The news from Cincinnati hasn’t been great for the Reds in the last 24 hours when it comes to off-the-field stuff. Right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn, who has missed the entire year with a shoulder injury, will now have shoulder surgery to repair the anterior capsule – first reported by Mark Sheldon of Reds.com.
Justin Dunn’s shoulder has been a mystery wrapped up in a bigger mystery for the better part of the last two years. While still in the Seattle Mariners organization, Dunn went on the injured list in the middle of 2021 with a shoulder injury. He missed the next few months before beginning a rehab stint in Triple-A. He walked the only batter he faced on that rehab assignment before being pulled from the game and then being shut down.
Cincinnati then traded for Dunn the next spring in the deal that brought over Jake Fraley, Brandon Williamson, and prospect Connor Phillips. But Dunn was not going to be ready in time for spring training in 2022. Then we found out he was going to miss several months while still recovering from his shoulder injury. He began a rehab assignment in the final week of June and then spend the next five weeks in the minor leagues before returning to big leagues. He would make seven starts for the Reds between August and September before he was placed on the injured list with what they called right shoulder tightness. Two weeks later he made a rehab start in Louisville and pitched three innings, but it was also the final week of the season and he didn’t pitch again after that.
Fast forward to this past spring and once again Dunn was not going to be ready to pitch. And in early March we found out that he was going to miss at least a few months to rest his shoulder. Three weeks ago he began a rehab assignment out in Arizona and pitched 1.0 and 1.1 innings in two appearances before being sent to Triple-A to continue his rehab. On August 22nd he threw an inning for Louisville. Following that outing he was called back from his rehab assignment and shut down.
For the last two-and-a-half seasons Justin Dunn’s battled shoulder issues. It’s crossed over through two different organizations and for much of that time they both tried rest and rehab options, and for a short period of time in 2022 he was able to get back on the mound and pitch before there were more (or the same) issues that popped up.
At this point we don’t have many details about what exactly took place. It seems unfathomable that two different organizations didn’t have his anterior capsule checked out over the span of multiple years with his shoulder issues, so it’s possible that this is a new injury – perhaps due to the other lingering shoulder issues that caused more stress or something here. We may never know exactly what happened and how it all played out. Shoulders are still a lot more complicated than elbows when it comes to both diagnosing and correcting problems. Hopefully for Dunn this is going to be what fixes his issues and can ultimately get him back on the mound without further problems.