Loáisiga has torn UCL, will miss rest of '24 season

April 6th, 2024

NEW YORK -- The Yankees had grand plans for this season, envisioning the high-octane right-hander as a multi-inning reliever until the All-Star break, at which point they would have used him more regularly to extinguish late-inning fires.

That will not happen. Loáisiga said on Saturday that he has been diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament that will require season-ending surgery. The 29-year-old also sustained a right flexor strain during his most recent appearance against the D-backs on Wednesday.

"It's very frustrating," Loáisiga said through an interpreter. "I'm going to end up losing the rest of the season. It's a tough moment to deal with. At the same time, there's a will inside. I want to be out there pitching. You have to use that as motivation and rely on that to carry you in a moment like this."

Loáisiga said that he will be scheduled for surgery with Dr. Keith Meister in Texas. Meister's initial reading of an MRI performed on Thursday in New York suggests that Loáisiga could avoid undergoing what would be his second career Tommy John surgery, with the estimated recovery for Meister's preferred procedure spanning 10-12 months.

"One thing I've learned is, you've got to have a lot of patience when you're going through something like this," Loáisiga said.

The Yankees prepared Loáisiga cautiously this spring, keeping most of his outings under simulated conditions partly because of his lengthy injury history. Since the beginning of the 2021 season, Loáisiga has landed on the injured list five times with pitching-related issues.

"It's been pretty much something every year that's tripped him up," manager Aaron Boone said.

Hoping to avoid that, the Yankees planned to use him in much the same fashion as right-hander Michael King early last season, with at least two days off between appearances.

Loáisiga appeared in three games this season. He did not allow a run in four frames but yielded seven hits while striking out three.

"I was feeling really, really good up until that one pitch," Loáisiga said. "As far as usage, I felt like it was a good strategy. Just one pitch and things changed."

In Loáisiga's absence, Boone figures to use Ian Hamilton most heavily to set up for closer Clay Holmes. Boone said that he believes Dennis Santana, who made his Yankees debut in Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays, will also play a significant role in the Bombers' bullpen.

The injury raises the possibility that Loáisiga has thrown his final pitch as a Yankee. Loáisiga is earning $2.5 million this season, his last under contract before potentially reaching free agency.

"My mind is not there right now," Loáisiga said. "My mind is [on] what I need to do next -- go see the doctor, go through this and find my way through recovery and getting back here."