The specific details of Naughton’s surgery aren’t publicly known and it’s possible those details won’t be fully available until the procedure actually begins, but it was reported last week that Tommy John was on the table. Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat adds that Naughton was visiting Dr. Keith Meister, who has performed some internal brace procedures, the TJS alternative that could also be an option.
Either way, it seems likely that Naughton is set to miss significant time. Even in the case of the internal brace procedure, a recovery period of roughly a year is required, which would likely wipe out the first half of Naughton’s 2024 season. The full Tommy John surgery, on the other hand, usually pushes into the range of 14 to 18 months, which could put his entire 2024 season in jeopardy.
That’s surely an extremely frustrating development for both Naughton and the Cards. The southpaw had tossed 32 innings last year with a 4.78 ERA but strong peripherals. He struck out 22% of opponents while walking just 5% and getting grounders at a 49.5% clip. His ERA might have been inflated by a .364 batting average on balls in play, leading to kinder marks from other metrics such as a 3.14 FIP and 3.26 SIERA.
He was looking to build off that platform here in 2023 but landed on the injured list after just four appearances due to a left forearm strain. He seemed on track to return when he began a rehab assignment a week ago but was still experiencing pain, leading to further examination and today’s news about the necessary surgery. That means that 2023 will be an almost entirely lost season with 2024 hanging in the balance as well.
Naughton is already on the 60-day injured list and will stay there for the rest of the season. However, there’s no injured list in the offseason so he will have to be added back to the roster at that point.