Cincinnati Reds reliever Tejay Antone will be undergoing Tommy John surgery tomorrow. Antone announced this on twitter on Thursday morning.

Tommy John surgery is never good news for anyone. But for Tejay Antone it’s really not good news. The right-handed reliever has already had one Tommy John surgery in his career. He missed all of the 2017 season and about half of the 2018 season as he recovered from the injury and surgery while he was in the minor leagues.

Yesterday the team placed Antone on the injured list after he left Tuesday night’s game after just five pitches. The initial announcement was that he had a strained right flexor muscle in his forearm. At the time we wrote that was not great news, but that the designation of a strain was a glimmer of hope because strain signifies a muscle or a tendon rather an a ligament, which would be the UCL, and given Antone’s previous Tommy John surgery, a torn UCL would seem to be the worst outcome of the injuries that could have been on the table. Unfortunately it seems like that designation was merely a place holder until there was further evaluation.

While we’ve come a long way with how pitchers recover from Tommy John surgery – 30+ years ago it was a situation that would leave one questioning if the player would ever return to normal – the players who have had a second Tommy John surgery and recovered well is not great. In November Kevin Acee of the San Diego Tribune wrote that at the time 42 Major League pitchers have had a second Tommy John surgery and that the majority did not pitch in the Major Leagues again or fared poorly over a short period of time. He, however, did note that many of the pitchers were also “well into their 30’s at the time of their second surgery”.

Acee spoke with Dr. Andrew Cosgarea, who is an orthopedic surgeon, who had this to say about why a second Tommy John surgery isn’t quite like the first one.

On average, the typical TJ revision isn’t as successful as the typical primary TJ,” Dr. Andrew Cosgarea, an orthopedic surgeon and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said Tuesday. “… The first time you drill a hole in the bone it is fresh and clean, but if it happens again you already have a hole there and that hole is filled with scar tissue. … Scar tissue isn’t as healthy as original tissue. It doesn’t have the same blood supply; (it is) not as durable.

There are some pitchers who have returned and been successful from a second Tommy John surgery. Nathan Eovaldi has now pitched four seasons since returning from his second surgery and he’s having an outstanding season in Boston through 25 starts.

It’s working for Antone that he is younger than most second Tommy John recipients. But it’s going to be a tough road back given the track record. Given the timing of the injury, the earliest to expect to see him back on the mound for the Reds is going to be the 2023 season.

27 Responses

  1. Fanman

    How devastating for the team. More importantly, just terrible that Tejay has to endure another serious injury. Wishing him well and hopefully isn’t the beginning of the end of a promising career. As mentioned, given his age, hopefully Tejay can recover and will have success moving forward.

  2. Mark Moore

    OUCH!! Worst case scenario for him. I hope he can recover, even if it means he’ll have to build up for the 2022 September run to the post-season.

  3. LDS

    The bad news keeps piling up. Reds FO needs to do some serious adjusting in the off season.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    Sshhhi…There is no words to say for this report… What a bad luck for Antone and the Reds overall… Really a very very tough season for Reds BP… Hopefully he will be make it and recovery very well coming back in 2023… While we wish more his quick return
    from his recent forearm injury all will be much later…this is Ironic..

  5. Votto4life

    How sad…I wish Tejay the best.

  6. RedsMonk65

    That just stinks — for the Reds and for TJ.

    Anymore, I never trust the initial assessment given when a Reds player is injured. I always await “further developments.”

    Lineup is posted for this afternoon’s game. Glad to see Barrero finally get a start at SS. Not sure about Aquino hitting 5th and Naquin 7th, but we shall see….

    Go Reds — just relax, and just win. We may not catch the Brewers, but we can still get the WC if we just keep winning. Perhaps ….. the Reds can taste some sweet revenge down the line against the Brewers in October ….!

    Jonathan India (R) 2B
    Tyler Stephenson (R) C
    Nick Castellanos (R) RF
    Joey Votto (L) 1B
    Aristides Aquino (R) LF
    Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
    Tyler Naquin (L) CF
    Jose Barrero (R) SS
    Sonny Gray (R) P

  7. Mark A Verticchio

    With everything going on, Antone, Winker, Senzel, and Castillanos leaving this season seems to be unraveling. Hopefully the team will reach back and overcome the all these issues.

  8. RedsMonk65

    That “report” on Castellanos opting out is really a non-story. Who is the source? I have yet to find anything anywhere saying definitively that SOMEONE credible said that. Not Castellanos. Not Boras. Not Krall, not even an anonymous source. Just a MLB writer speculating on what may or may not happen, just like we all do.

    So, no news really. Nothing has changed. That said, I do think it is likely he will opt out. Why wouldn’t he? But the “news” yesterday was not news at all….just idle speculation as far as I can tell.

    Play ball!

    • Jim Walker

      A “national writer” looking for clicks off Twitter. When I write here above or below the post line and say something seems “likely”, I am saying in my considered opinion, it is true or accurate but I don’t have any sourcing on the record to back up that opinion. Same true here.

    • Bubba Woo

      I’ve actually come full circle on this. Him opting out is smart and I think more about not wanting to be a FA at 31. My guess is that the Reds could resign him for something like 5 years/110 mil, with another opt out option in 2-3 years. With Votto, Shogo, and Gray’s contracts coming off the books in the next couple of years, plus the core of the team being team-controlled for a while (Winker, India, Stephenson, Barrero, Greene, Lodolo), I think that’s doable for the Reds.

      IMO, the key move in the offseason would be to find a way to get rid of the Moose or Suarez contract, and use that money to extend Castellanos, and maybe even lock Winker into a long term deal. One idea would be to attach them to an asset other teams may want. Example: Mahle/Moose for a solid LH reliever would free up 40 million over the next two years.

  9. Bred

    Off topic question.
    On the TV broadcast they keep referring to India’s bad shoulder. They said something about getting it fixed over the off season. I found a tweet by Nightengale referring to being taken out by Baez, I recall the play, but I did not realize the injury was serious. Is he facing the dreaded shoulder surgery? I sure hope not.

  10. west larry

    Terrible news for tejay. He’s one of my favorite players. I wish him a speedy recovery and a 100% recovery. The reds will need him in the future Here’s hoping that he returns to his all star like performance on the field late next year.

    • west larry

      It least, on the good news front, Barrios is starting today at shortstop.

      • JayTheRed

        yea he went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts and that’s 5 strikeouts in the last 2 games he has started. beginning to worry this guy can kill minor league baseball but at the major league level a little nervous so far. Its really early yet though to make final decisions about his hitting at this stage.

  11. MK

    I would recommend reading the book “The Arm” by Jeff Passon which looks at arm injuries, TJ surgeries and especially follows Todd Coffey and Daniel Hudson who went through multiple TJ’s with mixed results. Definitely a good read.

  12. Arthur

    Anyone think using TJA as a “one inning, throw as hard as you can” reliever contributed to this injury??

    • CI3J

      There are plenty of other relievers that follow the same mantra. It’s just bad luck.

    • 2020ball

      one inning? i bet the way he was actually being used, which was a two or three inning throw as hard as you can guy, is likely to have contributed to his injury, yes. And its probably why Bell isnt trying to run his other arms out there more than an inning. But hey, hes clueless right? especially since we have the hindsight now to say it.

    • Doc

      That has more to do with it than a bad surgeon, as was implied in an earlier post.

  13. Michael Spriggs

    I feel terrible for Tejay. Although this doesn’t really apply to this article, I’m also really amazed that the Reds don’t retaliate when their batters are hit. How many times are they going to allow the Brewers to possibly injure or further injure players like India or Nick C.? The first batter of the inning? The Reds’ most productive on base guy? Protecting players applies to both situations. We’re not talking about Derek Dietrich. I get the fact that the last things the Reds need right now are suspensions. This team is tough but I just hate to see the guys get plunked over and over.

  14. Michael Spriggs

    Just as I posted Sonny hits Wong in game three. Nevermind. Shows what I know.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      I was listening on the radio and from the way the announcers were talking, it barely clipped Wong and really wasn’t very far inside. The implication there may be that Wong’s stance is very close to the plate and plunking him wouldn’t happen with most hitters. India gets hit a lot. I wonder if he has a similar stance.

  15. Gaffer

    The Reds have been reporting “flexor mass strains “ for almost a decade and in every case that pitcher either gets TJ surgery or is out for a year “rehabbing”.

  16. JayTheRed

    I’m just going to cut it straight here..

    Ouch… I would not think he will ever be the same pitcher again and we won’t even know for about 1.5 to 2 years. This is a huge blow for both TJ and the Reds and their fans. sigh……….

    It’s a good thing we have a deep pitching system for this team. I am not really sure what they are going to do though

    Hope your recovery goes well TJ. Hopefully his recovery goes well.