McLain has shoulder surgery; Reds hope for return this year

March 27th, 2024

CINCINNATI – The Reds will be without second baseman for an extended period after he had left shoulder surgery on Tuesday.

It was not immediately known when McLain would be ready to return.

"Yesterday, Matt McLain had successful surgery to address cartilage damage and repair his labrum in his left shoulder," Reds president of baseball operations Nick Krall said. "An exact timeline is still TBD as it has a wide range of possibilities. We hope to have Matt back this season."

McLain, 24, was injured during a Spring Training workout on March 18, saying he attempted to make a diving catch. Although it was initially thought to be a minor injury, he went for a second opinion on Monday in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

It was ElAttrache who performed the operation on McLain.

“Bottom line, Matt has a long career ahead of him," manager David Bell said. "He’s going to come back, and that’s the focus. Whenever that is, we’re all looking forward to that. ... Just messaging back and forth with him, he already has the right outlook on this.”

A key rookie contributor during the Reds’ surprise 82-win 2023 season, McLain batted .290 with an .864 OPS, 16 home runs, 50 RBIs and 14 stolen bases over 89 games.

"He’s a big part of the team, and when I heard that, it was tough. We will miss him, no doubt," Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz said.

The main option Cincinnati has at second base is Jonathan India, who was the regular at that position from 2021-23. Entering camp, India had been set to take on a utility position while McLain became the regular at second base. Santiago Espinal and Spencer Steer are also possibilities there.

“Jonathan is already an everyday player for us, but he’s going to play more second base now," Bell said. "That’s where the depth comes in.”

Shortly after it became clear McLain would miss more than Opening Day, the Reds moved to acquire Espinal from the Blue Jays for a Minor League pitcher.

The Reds are also coping with other losses to their lineup, including center fielder and leadoff hitter TJ Friedl (fractured right wrist) and third baseman Noelvi Marte, who received an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

“This is what being a team is all about," Bell said. "It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and when we do get Matt back, of course, he makes us a better team. In the meantime, we love what we have here and the players we have to make up for that loss.”