Toronto Blue Jays reliever Kirby Yates likely out for the year

·2 min read

The Toronto Blue Jays were dealt a significant injury blow Tuesday with news that reliever Kirby Yates was expected to miss the entire season due to a right elbow injury.

General manager Ross Atkins said Yates, who was recently diagnosed with a flexor-pronator strain, will likely need surgery.

"It's most likely going to be a Tommy John revision," Atkins said on a video call with reporters. "It's still very fresh with the information but that would be the most likely outcome."

Atkins said that Yates recently underwent an MRI exam and had received a second opinion. Yates was touted as a potential closer after signing a one-year, US$5.5-million contract with the Blue Jays this off-season.

Yates was an all-star in 2019 with San Diego, registering 41 saves and posting a 1.19 earned-run average. He made six appearances with the Padres last year before undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow.

"We knew it was very high risk with the potential of high reward," Atkins said of the signing.

In addition, starter Robbie Ray was expected to miss one spring training start after slipping and falling on some stairs last week. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.

Outfielder George Springer, meanwhile, is dealing with some mild tightness around the oblique area, Atkins said, but could still be available for opening day on April 1.

An MRI revealed a Grade 2 sprain to the oblique, Atkins said.

"His symptoms and all of his baseball movements and patterns are incredibly encouraging," he said. "We're extremely optimistic about his strength, about his range of motion, especially his rotational movement (and feel) that he could be playing baseball very soon.

"But because of the MRI — we'll be careful not to overtreat the MRI — but because of the MRI you won't see him playing for the next few days."

Atkins expects to provide another update on Springer later in the week. Springer signed a six-year contract in the off-season worth a franchise record $150 million.

Atkins also said that pitchers Nate Pearson (groin) and Thomas Hatch (elbow/forearm) were both progressing well.

The Blue Jays were scheduled to play the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night at BayCare Ballpark.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press