Injuries are a part of baseball, but it doesn’t make it any more fun when they happen. And that’s doubly true when they occur to players trying to find their footing in the league.
But that’s exactly what happened on Monday, as San Francisco Giants right-handed reliever Dedniel Nuñez was diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his pitching elbow. The 24 year old will have a second opinion before the team decides on his next steps.
UCL sprain for Giants Rule 5 pitcher Dedniel Núñez, who will have second opinion on right elbow.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) March 15, 2021
Nothing is final until the doctors make a decision, but a UCL sprain often leads to Tommy John surgery. It was just over a year ago that Giants right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede suffered the same injury, and had such a surgery. Should Tommy John surgery be required for Nuñez, he’ll miss the entirety of the 2021 season, and likely a chunk of the 2022 season as well.
That would be heartbreaking for Nuñez, and it would also muddy the waters of his future with the team (which, admittedly, were already pretty muddy). Because the right-hander is a Rule 5 selection, he has to stay on the team’s active roster for a full season (excluding trips to the Injury List, as long as he’s still on the active roster for at least 90 days) or be returned to his former team, the New York Mets.
The Giants can place him on a season-ending Injury List and keep him in the system, but the same Rule 5 restrictions will apply next year. He’ll have to be on the active roster as soon as he’s healthy, or else the Giants will have to give him up.
Here’s hoping Nuñez can avoid Tommy John, but a UCL sprain is always scary news.