SEATTLE– Marco Gonzalez crossed the emotional line between relief and frustration by revealing Sunday that he will undergo season-ending surgery to resolve the nerve problem that has persisted for more than two months in his throwing forearm.
The veteran left-hander had long sought answers regarding the injury that has kept him sidelined since starting May 28 against the Pirates, when he first experienced the most pronounced symptoms. Gonzales now has clarity – but it brings an unfortunate conclusion to his 2023 season.
“There’s this clock that says, ‘I have to come back this year,’ and I’m just trying to do everything I can,” Gonzales said. “And it’s frustrating when you’re not making any progress and you see the team out there and you want to contribute, and I’m sitting here with still no answers and I’m not making any progress. So I’m grateful that we have arrived at a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Specifically, Gonzales will undergo a “cleanse” to decompress the anterior interosseous nerve, which controls motor function for pronation of the wrist and index finger.
The procedure will be performed Aug. 22 by Dr. Steven Shin, director of hand surgery at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, who also repaired the UCL in Cal Raleigh’s thumb during the last offseason.
Gonzales believes that by doing this now, he will be able to follow a regular throwing program during the offseason and be ready when pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in February.
“It’s bad news and obviously I wanted to avoid surgery at all costs,” Gonzales said. “But this is necessary, we believe, to resolve the problem.”
Although the syndrome is “somewhat rare” in baseball, Gonzales said, it is not a complete exception. The left-hander has consulted with other pitchers who have undergone the procedure – also by Dr. Shin – like the Giants’ Scott Alexander and former Mariner Brandon Morrow.
Alexander had surgery in mid-2019 and returned at the start of the COVID-shortened ’20 season, while Morrow underwent the procedure in 2013 and returned to the field for five more years.
“They gave me good advice to move forward, to clean it up, because it really worked for them. … Fortunately, it’s not a ligament or tendon or anything that needs to be repaired,” said Gonzales, who underwent Tommy John surgery as a member of the Cardinals in April 2016.
Gonzales, who was transferred to the 60-day IL on July 26, was unsure if the problem first surfaced during his last start in 2023 or if it was something building slowly. He described that it was getting “harder and harder to break away with each inning,” that he felt “a painful pain” in his forearm, and that “basically since then, every time I go to throw a baseball ball, I feel this aching, aching pain in the middle of my forearm.
Gonzales ended up pitching 5 2/3 innings on May 28, leading the Mariners to a victory. Overall, Seattle went 7-3 in his starts this year, during which he compiled a 5.22 ERA with 34 strikeouts, 18 walks and a 1.46 WHIP in 50 rounds.
Gonzales joins Robbie Ray among the Mariners starters who will undergo season-ending surgery this year. Ray underwent flexor tendon and Tommy John surgeries on May 3, and he is not expected to return until after the 2024 season.
In their place, Seattle installed rookies Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo, who have since suffered minor forearm inflammation and were placed on the 15-day injured list on August 5. Top pitching prospect Emerson Hancock then assumed Woo’s spot and looked promising on debut.
Although the Mariners’ rotation stayed afloat and was the main catalyst for the club staying in playoff contention despite an inconsistent first-half offense, there’s no doubt they missed the accumulation of sleeves of Ray and Gonzales, two beasts of burden without workload. boundaries.
Manager Scott Servais said earlier on Sunday that the club will have to be more creative in distributing the workload of its signings over the period – especially if they launch activities until October.