Blue Jays pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to undergo elbow surgery, miss rest of season

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins discusses the injury status of starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu, saying he believes it's 'very likely' the left-hander is out for the remainder of the season.

Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu is expected to miss the rest of the season due to a left elbow injury that will require surgery.

General manager Ross Atkins said Dr. Neal ElAttrache will determine during the procedure whether Ryu needs Tommy John surgery or a partial repair of the ulnar collateral ligament.

"We were hopeful that there was the potential of a conservative route and weighed the pros and cons of that and ultimately decided that it was best to move forward with the procedure," Atkins said Tuesday during a media availability at Rogers Centre.

Ryu has been on the injured list since June 2 due to left forearm inflammation. He missed about a month with a similar issue earlier this season.

His velocity dipped in his last start, a 7-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on June 1. Ryu left the game after four innings.

Atkins said the injury was not acute in nature, but rather a chronic "stretching" and "pulling" of the ligament. Over time, he added, the issue can make tightness occur in the forearm along with the loss of dexterity.

"He's a very tough individual and has perspective but he's extremely disappointed that he won't be part of this (lineup) for the near term," Atkins said. 

Depending on the type of procedure, Ryu may not be able to return in 2023, when he'll be in the final season of his US$80-million, four-year contract with the Blue Jays. 

Rehabilitation and buildup after a Tommy John procedure — a UCL reconstruction — usually takes between 12 and 24 months. Atkins said it would be a "great outcome" to have Ryu pitching at some point next year.

Ryu, 35, served as a rotation anchor for the Blue Jays in the truncated 2020 campaign and was a reliable starter again last year. He was 2-0 over six starts this season with a 5.67 earned-run average.

"I actually see that pandemic year as him being integral to turning us around as a team," Atkins said. "He was a stabilizer for us. You could absolutely lay your head on the pillow that he was going to go out and keep us not only in the game, but we would not have to score much to potentially win.

"That was a massive impact for us in 2020. And then he was steady for us over the course of the last year and a half. So (he's) impacted by injury now but I feel very good about that acquisition even though we are here today."

Ryu led the major leagues in 2019 with a 2.32 ERA and finished second in Cy Young voting that year. He has battled injury woes through his career since making his big-league debut with the Dodgers in 2013. 

The six-foot-three 250-pound southpaw sat out the 2015 season and made only one appearance in 2016 due to left shoulder surgery and elbow tendinitis. He also missed time in 2017 with injuries to his left hip and foot.

Ross Stripling will continue to pitch in Ryu's spot in the rotation, Atkins said, adding the team will continue to look to make potential roster improvements ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

The Blue Jays also placed right-hander Julian Merryweather on the 15-day IL with a left abdominal strain. Right-hander Jeremy Beasley was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo before Tuesday night's home game against the Baltimore Orioles.

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