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Twins pitcher Tyler Mahle to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Tyler Mahle throws to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Twins pitcher Tyler Mahle will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery after an MRI showed issues with the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

He said the elbow reconstruction surgery will be done in the next two weeks. He plans to do rehab back home in Orange, California.

The 28-year-old Mahle, was pulled from his start on April 27 after showing diminished velocity. He expressed optimism after the game and said he didn't expect to miss time, but he was later diagnosed with a posterior impingement and flexor pronator strain before more testing.

Mahle has a one-year, $7.5 million contract with Minnesota and will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

“It was an easy decision just because it was so obvious after the second opinion,” Mahle said Thursday. “It was so obvious what I should do for, you know, my longevity and my future and just health. I wasn’t going to be able to come back this year and pitch effectively.”

Mahle, who is on the 60-day injured list, said he could have rehabbed and come back this season, but was told by doctors the same issues would occur again. Mahle said he was surprised by the final diagnosis because he didn't feel the usual symptoms related to needing Tommy John surgery. He said he felt a pinch on full extension, one reason for the diminished velocity.

Injuries have been a constant for the right-hander since the Twins sent three prospects to the Cincinnati Reds to acquire Mahle at the trade deadline last year. He was shut down twice last season with ongoing shoulder issues. He made nine total starts for Minnesota, pulled early three times due to injury.

“These are difficult conversations and I feel for Tyler more than anything,” Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. “You go through this, you plan, you rehab, you get your shoulder right where it needs to be, you’re in a good spot. And then something else pops up and it’s obviously impactful to his career. We’re fully supportive of this decision for him and want to help him in the next phase of what comes next.”

Mahle, the seven-year veteran, is 33-41 with a 4.30 ERA in 123 career games. He was 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings over five starts this season.

The Twins have traded aggressively to try to upgrade their starting pitching over the last two years, with mixed results.

Mahle cost them third basemen Spencer Steer, who's playing regularly for the Reds, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who's the sixth-ranked prospect by MLB in Cincinnati's farm system and batting .364 with seven homers after his first 15 games for Triple-A Louisville.

Chris Paddack, who came in a trade last year with San Diego for closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker, made five starts in 2022 before being shut down with an elbow injury and needing Tommy John surgery. He's not expected back until late this season.

Sonny Gray and Pablo López have yielded sterling results for the Twins, but they came with a steep price too. Gray was acquired before last season from Cincinnati for 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty. López came from Miami for 2022 American League batting champion Luis Arraez.

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