Rays reliever Ryan Thompson will undergo surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). That’ll officially end his 2021 season, although the team expects he’ll be ready for Opening Day 2022.
Thompson hasn’t made a big league appearance since June 27, when he landed on the injured list with what the team initially termed shoulder inflammation. He embarked upon a minor league rehab assignment in mid-August but apparently continued to deal with issues that’ll require surgical repair. He’s already on the 60-day injured list, so today’s development won’t affect the Rays’ roster situation.
Thoracic outlet syndrome has become increasingly commonplace in recent years, although the track record of pitchers recovering from the procedure remains mixed. A few hurlers (most prominently Matt Harvey and Thompson’s teammate Chris Archer) continued to deal with injuries and/or ineffectiveness upon returning from TOS surgery. That’s not a universal fate, though. Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly, for instance, underwent thoracic outlet surgery last September but returned to open this season in the Arizona rotation. Aside from a battle with COVID-19, Kelly has remained healthy all season and has settled back in at his general level of 2019-20 performance.
Thompson’s not a household name to many fans around the league, but he’s been part of an under-the-radar yet highly productive Rays’ relief corps. The sidearming righty made his big league debut last season and quickly emerged as one of Tampa Bay’s higher-leverage bullpen options. He owns a 3.28 ERA over 60 1/3 MLB innings with average or better strikeout (24.2%), walk (6.9%) and ground-ball (53.6%) numbers.