Hopes that Oakland Athletics left-handed starting pitcher Felix Doubront would be able to return this year from what was described as "fibrous tearing in his UCL" were dashed on Monday after the A's announced that he would have Tommy John surgery. The procedure will take place on Tuesday.
Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list to start the year after he completed just one inning of Oakland's last exhibition game with the A's. Doubront was expected to take the fifth spot in the rotation after Jesse Hahn was sent to Triple-A Nashville to work on command issues that had troubled him in spring training.
Eric Surkamp started in last Friday's game against the Seattle Mariners and pitched 4 1/3 innings in Oakland's 3-2 win. Surkamp would have pitched five innings but for a defensive miscue by Jed Lowrie on what should have been an inning-ending double play ball. He is expected to take Wednesday's start against the Los Angeles Angels while remaining in competition with Jesse Hahn, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser.
This will be the first Tommy John surgery for Doubront. Recovery time typically 12-18 months for first TJ.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 11, 2016
Looking far down the road, Doubront is under team control only until 2017 because he will earn service time while on the major league disabled list, which puts into question whether the A's will tender him a contract before the 2017 season. It's a tough break for Doubront, who rose from being the likely long reliever to a starting spot this spring and credited his overall health to a new Crossfit regimen. In 52 2/3 innings for the A's in 2015 he had a 5.81 ERA but a bullpen ERA of 3.86 in 11 2/3 innings.
In terms of the 40-man roster consequences, the A's can make use of Doubront's 40-man spot as he's not yet on the 60-day disabled list. For example, the A's are locked into the sixth-best waiver wire priority based on their 2015 record through May 2. The A's also could be looking ahead to add Sean Manaea to the starting rotation if any of the current starters or the currently rehabilitating Henderson Alvarez falters.