Rays ace Glasnow has elbow tear, no surgery for now

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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Monday, June 14, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) — Tyler Glasnow isn’t exactly sure what’s going to happen with his elbow injury. But the Tampa Bay Rays ace is certain of a cause: trying to pitch slick baseballs without any grip enhancer.

“I 100% believe that contributed to me getting hurt,” he asserted Tuesday.

A day after an early exit, Glasnow was diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament, throwing in doubt his future for the rest of this season and beyond.

“My lifelong dream, I want win a Cy Young. I want to be an All-Star,” he said. “Now it’s over and I have to try and rehab to come back in the playoffs. I’m clearly frustrated.”

An MRI showed Glasnow had a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and also a flexor strain. The test was done after the right-hander was forced to leave Monday night’s game in Chicago against the White Sox after four innings.

Glasnow said he won’t have surgery for now, and instead will try to strengthen the area. He plans to see another doctor on Friday.

“Just don’t throw for a while, but they also said no surgery,” Glasnow said. “So I’m just going to try and rehab it it an try to come back.”

“Hopefully I can help the team out in the playoffs or hopefully sooner,” he said.

If Glasnow chose to undergo Tommy John surgery, that would sideline him this season and could prevent him from pitching next year, too.

The Rays reached the World Series last year and own the best record in the majors this season.

Glasnow attributed the injury to the inconsistent and often slick feel of baseballs, causing him to grip them tighter and deeper in his hand in his past few starts. He admitted to using a mix of sunscreen and rosin in the past to help, but said Major League Baseball’s new crackdown on grip-enhancing substances used by pitchers was ill-timed.

“I have used sticky stuff before. Select your favorite pitcher of 50 years ago and he was probably using something, too. I have huge hands and I spin the ball fine. I want more grip,” he said.

Glasnow said he went “cold turkey” and used no grip-enhancing mix in a win over Washington on June 8. Because he held the ball differently, he said he “woke up the next day and was sore in places I didn’t even know I had muscles in.”

Manager Kevin Cash confirmed there was no timeline for Glasnow’s return and that the team would seek additional opinions.

“The initial thought was that it’s better than having surgery, but I don’t think anything has been totally defined yet,” Cash said.

In the meantime, Cash plans to insert veteran righty Michael Wacha in Tampa Bay’s rotation.

The Rays put Glasnow on the 10-day injured list and recalled infielder Mike Brosseau from Triple-A Durham.

Glasnow is 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts, tied for the most in the majors. The 27-year-old has struck out 123 in 88 innings.

Though he is just 20-20 with a 4.04 ERA in six seasons, the 6-foot-8 Glasnow is considered one of baseball’s top pitchers. His future looked bright until he was pulled from Monday night’s game.

Glasnow allowed two runs on three hits and left with Tampa Bay leading 3-2. The Rays went on to win 5-2 in a matchup of teams that entered with the two best records in the majors.

Glasnow said he sensed something wasn’t right in the elbow as he tossed his final pitches in the fourth. He told the coaching staff and was replaced by Ryan Thompson to start the fifth.

“The last couple of pitches I felt just a little tug,” Glasnow said after the game. “I didn’t want to go out and chance it. The velo was still there, it just felt not right.”

Glasnow walked one and struck out six, throwing 40 of 53 pitches for strikes.

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