Twins left-hander Ryan O’Rourke, who has been on the disabled list all season, will undergo surgery to repair a tear in his left elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament, the team announced today. “We were all holding on to a little hope that he might get a couple options to how he should proceed instead of having to undergo the Tommy John procedure, but unfortunately didn’t get that news,” manager Paul Molitor told reporters (link via Dave Sessions of MLB.com).
O’Rourke, 28, has spent parts of each of the past two seasons with the Twins, appearing in 54 games out of the bullpen in total. His 2016 efforts resulted in a 3.96 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 and a 45.3 percent ground-ball rate. Though there didn’t appear to be an immediate spot in the Twins’ bullpen for O’Rourke, with Taylor Rogers and Craig Breslow already serving as lefty options for Molitor, though he could’ve emerged later in the season as a southpaw option if healthy. O’Rourke has held left-handed opponents to a .134/.244/.239 batting line through 80 plate appearances thus far in his Major League career.
O’Rourke did research Tommy John alternatives, including the “primary repair” procedure that Seth Maness underwent last August, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. However, as Berardino notes, even that abbreviated seven-month recovery period would’ve sidelined O’Rourke until late November or early December.
The Twins already transferred O’Rourke to the 60-day disabled list yesterday as a means of clearing a 40-man roster spot for right-hander Nick Tepesch, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Rochester. O’Rourke will rack up a full year of big league service time while on the disabled list, though he’ll still finish the season with two years and six days of service time, leaving him short of arbitration eligibility. O’Rourke joins right-hander Trevor May as the second Twins hurler to undergo Tommy John surgery this season. The club’s 2016 first-round pick, outfielder Alex Kirilloff, has also gone down with a UCL tear that required Tommy John.