Avilán set for TJ surgery to repair UCL tear

April 19th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Veteran left-hander has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, manager Dave Martinez said on Monday.

“He seemed upbeat about it,” Martinez said. “He knows what he’s up against, but he’s going to do everything he can. He said he wants to try to come back and pitch again, and good for him. So hopefully the surgery goes well for him.”

Avilán, 31, informed the Nationals that he “felt something in his elbow” after his last outing on Thursday, when he threw 39 pitches across two innings against the D-backs in relief of Patrick Corbin. He was placed on the injured list on Friday with left elbow inflammation.

“We were shocked,” Martinez said of the tear on Saturday. “I feel awful, as we always do when somebody gets hurt. But we wish him well and wish him a quick recovery.”

Avilán is one of the relievers who had been called upon to help carry innings when starters Corbin and Stephen Strasburg made early exits last week. Avilán threw 38 pitches and surrendered six runs in one inning on Tuesday against the Cardinals.

The 10-year veteran earned a spot on the Nationals’ Opening Day roster after impressing during Spring Training. Over four appearances, he is 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA.

“You never want anybody to get hurt, ever,” Martinez said. “So that’s tough for me. When you get news like that, it hurts because you feel for the player.”

Washington, which placed Avilán on the 10-day injured list on Friday, recalled right-handed reliever from the alternate training site in a corresponding move.

“I kind of like what Kyle’s been doing,” Martinez said. “He’s matured a lot. He’s pitched well for us, so he’s going to get an opportunity to pitch for us until we decide to do something else. But I like him. Plus, he’s another guy that gives us multiple innings if we need it.”

The Nationals stacked their bullpen this offseason, and they have already needed that depth. Will Harris is on the IL because of right hand inflammation. He has been pitching at the alternate site, but he has not pitched in a game since mid-March in Spring Training. Tanner Rainey also was sidelined during camp because of soreness in his collarbone area, and Brad Hand began the season on the IL as part of COVID-19 protocols. On Sunday, consistent reliever Wander Suero was placed on the 10-day IL because of a left oblique strain.

With the alternate site in nearby Fredericksburg, Va., the Nationals will continue to call on talent from there to help fill roster voids.

“We’ve got to keep pushing on,” Martinez said. “It takes a multitude of players to win a championship, and we try to keep all those guys that are in the alternate site ready to go because you never know what’s going to happen. We feel like we’ve got guys down there that are building up that can help us.

“For me, you don’t want these guys here ‘til later on in the season, but they’re there. So when somebody goes down, it’s a conversation that we have to have to see who’s going to fit and what we need. But we’ve got some good options down there, we really do.”