Thursday should be a day of celebration for the Tampa Bay Rays as their. It’s the best start in MLB history, but a dark cloud hangs over this one. Starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs, who started the season with a Cy Young caliber, was pulled out after two pitches in the fourth inning.
The problem for Springs seemed to happen on this pitch:
Springs then withdrew from the game after a warm-up while manager Kevin Cash and athletic coaches looked on. He shook his hand and glanced at it a few times in frustration, as if he knew something was wrong. He may even have caught a glimpse of his forearm/elbow area in the video above.
A few innings later, Rays said the diagnosis was left ulnar neuritis. According to the Florida Orthopedic Institute, this typically occurs with numbness or weakness in the hand. The ulnar nerve naturally lies in the elbow.
After the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters (about Marc Topkin) that Springs will have imaging and see a doctor on Friday, but the hope is that this was just an irritation. Still, Cash pointed out that a stint on the injury list is likely for Springs regardless of what they find.
Springs, 30, had a breakout season with the Rays in 2022, going 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA (146 ERA+), 1.07 WHIP and 144 strikeouts against 31 walks in 135 1/3 innings. This offseason, he was rewarded for his efforts with a four-year extension. Through two starts this season, Springs was 2-0 with a .00 ERA, .54 WHIP and 19 strikeouts against four walks in 13 innings. He had conceded a run to a hit (a Rob Refsnyder solo homer) with five strikeouts and no walks in his three innings before Thursday’s injury.
If Springs is to miss time with an injury, the Rays have depth of rotation, although she would be stretched thin here in the short term. Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen are the other fixtures, while Josh Fleming can launch or piggyback an opener. Top contender Taj Bradley started and clinched the win on Wednesday, allowing him to be recalled straight from the minors to secure a rotation spot. Zach Eflin is currently on the injured list but is unlikely to lose much time. Tyler Glasnow is recovering from an angled spring training injury and should be back sometime in May.
The good news for the Rays here is that thanks to the they’ve adjusted to absorb a cold stretch.