The New York Yankees might lose their second starter to Tommy John surgery in 13 months as right-hander Chase Whitley has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow sprain as announced by the team.
Whitley, 25, left last night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays after just 1 2/3 innings after experiencing elbow discomfort. After the game, Whitley revealed to Chad Jennings of LoHud that his elbow had been bothering him for a while, but he elected to pitch through the pain.
“Tonight it just carried over to the game,” Whitley said. “I’ve been able to get through it in the game, and tonight obviously you could pretty much tell.”
Although the Yankees have yet to specify the severity of Whitley's injury, Jon Heyman is hearing that the former reliever turned starter indeed suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament, usually a precursor to Tommy John surgery. However, Heyman adds that Whitley will seek a second opinion before deciding on a course of action.
Coming off last night's outing, Whitley's line on the year stands at a 1-2 record with a 4.19 ERA through 19 1/3 innings pitched. There are two ironic parts to both Whitley's Major League debut and his potential surgery. First, Whitley was called up to slip into Masahiro Tanaka's spot in the rotation as the Japanese import is experiencing his own elbow problems.
Secondly, if Whitley were to undergo the surgery, he would be the second pitcher in 13 months to exit a start against the Rays in Tampa Bay and go under the knife for Tommy John surgery.
However, left-handed veteran Chris Capuano is on the comeback trail; after a six-inning rehab start in the Minors, the well-traveled lefty will slip into the rotation upon his return. But with the team having two off-days next week, the earliest the team would need a fifth starter would be May 26 as noted by Mike Axisa.
To take Whitley's spot on the roster, fellow 25-year-old right-hander Jose Ramirez was called up to the Big Leagues. Ramirez pitched in eight games with the Yankees last year, finishing his brief cup of coffee in the Majors with a 0-2 record and a 5.40 ERA. In Triple-A this year, Ramirez has a 2.95 ERA in 18 1/3 innings.