Bush to miss 1st half of '19 after UCL surgery

Righty has operation to repair partial tear; Bibens-Dirkx has surgery on left knee

September 19th, 2018
Texas Rangers relief pitcher Matt Bush (51) throws to the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)Richard W. Rodriguez/AP

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Matt Bush underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for at least the first half of next season.

The surgery was not classified as Tommy John, which would have involved a ligament transplant. Dr. Keith Meister, who performed the surgery, described it as a "repair and reinforcement" procedure.

"It is a real challenge for Matt," Rangers assistant general manager Mike Daly said. "You always feel for the player with everything that he has overcome to get back to this point, to have to go through the surgery. But Dr. Meister was very bullish on him being able to come back and be a second-half pitcher next year."

Bush has been on the disabled list since June 13 with what was first announced as a strained right elbow but actually involved a partial tear of the ligament. He started a throwing program in August, but never felt good enough to pitch off a mound.

"We tried a few different methods to avoid surgery and didn't work," Daly said. "He just didn't feel like he was going to be able to come back and be able to pitch at the level he was accustomed to. I don't think it was necessarily a re-aggravation; it just wasn't coming out like it normally was."

This was Bush's third season with the Rangers. He went to Spring Training trying to make the transition from bullpen to the rotation, but ended up making the team as a reliever. He pitched in 21 games with no record, a 4.70 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP.

Right-handed pitcher also underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Bibens-Dirkx pitched in 13 games for the Rangers this season while splitting time at Triple A Round Rock, and was 2-3 with a 6.20 ERA at the big league level.

"He has been pitching on that, but the type of guy he is, he was willing to go out there and pitch and compete and get people out," Daly said. "But this is something that has been bothering him for awhile. True testament to the type of guy he is."

The Rangers will have to decide whether to keep Bush and Bibens-Dirkx on the 40-man roster or try to re-sign them to Minor League contracts. Texas will also have a decision on reliever Tony Barnette, who had his season cut short because of a strained lat muscle in his right shoulder. He is a free agent after the season.

"We'll go through the roster in the offseason and see how everybody fits," Daly said. "All three of those guys are outstanding people and had a ton of success here. From where our heads are at, those are certainly guys we would like to have in our organization."