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Yates likely to need season-ending surgery

@AJCassavell
August 18, 2020

Kirby Yates -- who rejuvenated his career in San Diego, where he made the leap from waiver claim to All-Star -- may have thrown his final pitch for the Padres. The veteran closer got a second opinion on his ailing right elbow on Monday, and he seems likely to undergo

Kirby Yates -- who rejuvenated his career in San Diego, where he made the leap from waiver claim to All-Star -- may have thrown his final pitch for the Padres.

The veteran closer got a second opinion on his ailing right elbow on Monday, and he seems likely to undergo season-ending surgery to address bone chips, manager Jayce Tingler said.

“Our expectations are he's probably going to be done for the year,” Tingler said. “If he proceeds with the information from the two doctors, he’s probably looking at a scope job at the back of the elbow. If that does happen, it's safe to say his season will, or would, be done.”

Yates, who will be a free agent after the season, was off to a slow start in which he'd been held out of action multiple times due to other smaller ailments. When he pitched, he struggled, allowing six runs over 4 1/3 innings.

It's still possible Yates re-ups with the Padres, as both sides had previously expressed interest in a long-term deal. But if that's all for Yates in San Diego, his tenure is an unquestioned success story.

Yates arrived as a waiver claim early in the 2017 season, and he developed a splitter that became one of the nastiest pitches in the sport. In four seasons since, Yates owns a 2.55 ERA with an average of 14 strikeouts per nine innings. He was named to the '19 All-Star team and was first-team All-MLB last year, as well. Not bad, considering Yates was an undrafted free agent who toiled for five years in the Minor Leagues, and then spent three more as a big league journeyman before he found any measure of success.

In Yates' absence, lefty Drew Pomeranz is expected to step into the closer role. But that leaves a gap in the setup role, and the Padres have had a number of their projected late-innings arms struggle this season -- including Craig Stammen, Tim Hill, and perhaps most notably, Emilio Pagán.

Yates' impending surgery is the latest in a string of rough injury news for the Padres. Tommy Pham underwent surgery on the hamate bone in his left hand on Monday and will miss four to six weeks. Catcher Francisco Mejía also landed on the injured list Monday with a bruised left thumb.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.