Seattle Mariners reliever Chasen Bradford will miss the rest of the season and beyond after undergoing Tommy John surgery Thursday of last week.
The 30-year-old right-hander had his throwing arm wrapped and nested in a sling Friday afternoon in Seattle’s clubhouse, and was relieved to at least have some closure regarding the elbow issues that sent him to the injured list back in the first week of June.
Bradford said it took “a long time” for doctors to ultimately diagnose what was causing the problem. He went through treatments, but said said he never reached the point of trying to strengthen his flexor muscle. It would just hurt again the next day, he said.
“It was frustrating, and anxiety built up a little bit,” Bradford said. “It was like, ‘What’s going on? We’ve been following the protocol and doing all of this, and nothing’s coming out of it.’ To finally get it over with, now I get to focus on getting back to where I was before.”
The estimated recovery time for a pitcher who undergoes Tommy John surgery is about 12-15 months, so Bradford will likely miss the bulk of the 2020 season, if not all of it. He said he will continue to rehab in Seattle as this season winds down before returning home to Las Vegas during the offseason.
“I have a path to recovery,” he said. “Obviously I want to be playing with these guys, but at least I get to root them on.”
Bradford was a reliable bullpen arm for the Mariners last season, but had little opportunity to build on that in his second season with the club. He also spent two weeks of April on the IL with shoulder inflammation, and appeared in just 12 games. He allowed nine earned runs (including six homers) while walking four and striking out 11 in 16 2/3 innings in his two stints with the club this season.
The Mariners will remain in a five-pitcher starting rotation moving forward, manager Scott Servais said Friday, but with some different faces.
Rookie left-hander Justus Sheffield returned to Seattle on Friday to make the first start of his major-league career, and will presumably remain with the Mariners for the rest of the season. And former ace Felix Hernandez, who has been on the IL since May, is expected to be activated and start Saturday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
With the additions of those two, Seattle has moved veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc to the bullpen. His availabilty in that role will begin Saturday.
“We do have some guys with length in our bullpen now,” Servais said. “Obviously (Reggie) McClain’s been able to do that. (Zac) Grotz has gone two-plus. (Erik Swanson) can go a couple innings. But, Wade, that will kind of be his role, being a multiple-inning guy.”
LeBlanc went 6-7 with a 5.52 ERA in 21 games this season before the move to the bullpen, though he only made eight true starts. Most of his outings he followed an opener.
Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who was skipped Friday as part of Seattle’s plan to keep his innings in check during his first season in the majors, will slot back into the rotation Tuesday against the Yankees and is scheduled to oppose countryman Masahiro Tanaka.
Should the current rotation order hold, Sheffield would start again Wednesday against former Mariners starter James Paxton — who was deat to New York during the offseason for Sheffield, Swanson and minor-league outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams.
WHO’S IN THE ‘PEN?
Right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin was claimed off waivers Friday by the Yankees, effectively making room for Sheffield on Seattle’s active roster.
Gearrin was a reliable enough option in later innings this season, posting a 3.92 ERA in 48 appearances. He was also the last reliever remaining in the bullpen of those the Mariners took to Japan for their season opener in March.
Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias were dealt to the Nationals at the trade deadline; Bradford, Dan Altavilla and Brandon Brennan are on the IL; Matt Festa is with Triple-A Tacoma; Zac Rosscup was designated for assignment in May and Nick Rumbelow was released in June.
“It is now complete,” Servais said. “The bullpen we took to Japan is no longer with us. I think he was the last man standing from our bullpen from the beginning of the year.
“It’s a good opportunity for Cory. Obviously the Yankees are in a good spot in their division standings. … We’ll give those innings to some younger guys and continue to create opportunities for some guys, and get them the extra innings when they’re there.”
▪ Austin Adams (shoulder) tossed a scoreless inning with Tacoma on Thursday night in his first rehab appearance, striking out two. He will throw one more outing with the Rainiers before he is transferred to Arkansas to continue his assignment.
▪ Dan Altavilla (forearm) has made four minor-league rehab outings, including three with Tacoma. He last threw a scoreless inning Tuesday, walking one and striking out two, and will remain with the Rainiers for now.
▪ Braden Bishop (lacerated spleen) had the day off Friday and will be transferred to Tacoma on Saturday to resume his rehab assignment.
▪ Brandon Brennan (shoulder) threw a bullpen Friday and will throw another Monday.
▪ Mitch Haniger (ruptured testicle) has had another setback in his rehab, and is still dealing with soreness in his back. He played in a game for Tacoma on Tuesday, hitting a triple, but has been temporarily shut down again.
“I’m hoping it’s a short-term thing,” Servais said. “He got out and played a few games (with High-A Modesto) and then had the back tightness. Thought he got it worked out and played again up in Tacoma, and didn’t feel good at all the day after, kind of getting out of bed the next morning had some stiffness.
“Fingers crossed, I hope it’s nothing serious. He’s certainly had enough to deal with this year, but it has slowed it down a little bit.”
▪ Connor Sadzeck (elbow) is still rehabbing in Arizona and has been throwing lightly.