Alex Reyes thought 2017 was the longest year of his life as he spent the entire season rehabbing his right elbow following Tommy John surgery.
Not even in his worst dreams could Reyes imagine how his 2018 season would turn out to be even worse.
Reyes and the Cardinals received the news they didn’t want to hear on Wednesday, when the best prospect in the organization had surgery to repair a torn tendon behind his right shoulder. He will miss the rest of the season.
After 15 months of rehab, Reyes made it back on the mound on May 30 and pitched four innings against the Brewers. He went back on the disabled list the following day with what was described at the time as a lat strain.
Reyes went to Philadelphia on Wednesday to seek a second opinion and ended up having the surgery, which has an expected recovery time of six months.
“Very optimistic about a complete recovery,” said General Manager Michael Girsch. “We expect Alex to spend a few days with his family in New Jersey and then be here next week to start the rehab process and expect he will be ready for spring training.
“Our understanding is when the tendon is torn away from the bone the longer you wait the more problematic the recovery.”
Reyes had breezed through four minor-league rehab assignments on his way back to the major leagues, but apparently felt something in his lat area in his last start in Memphis, when at one point in the game stuck out nine consecutive batters. He reportedly did not inform the Cardinals of any issues until after he came out of the start in Milwaukee.
“We don’t know how this progressed,” Girsch said. “It’s hard to speculate about where along the path it started to become a significant issue.”
Said Manager Mike Matheny, “I know he’s pretty down right now. He’s still young. He has a lot of baseball ahead of him, but we hurt for him.
“It took so much to get him to the mound. This is something that isn’t typical. It’s going to be a great challenge for him. I have all the faith in the world that he’s going to bounce back. It’s going to be a lot of work. We talked about how transformational it was for him (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and how hard he worked. This is another tough run for him.”
Reyes, 23, made his major-league debut on Aug. 9, 2016 and pitched in 12 games that season, including five starts. He was 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA and struck out 52 batters in 46 innings.
He suffered the elbow injury in January of 2017 when he was working out at home, and underwent surgery in February. He got back on the mound this spring in extended spring training before his rehab assignment, when he did not allow a run in 23 innings spread over starts in Palm Beach, Peoria, Springfield and Memphis.
His start in Milwaukee came 608 days after his previous game with the Cardinals, on Sept. 26, 2016.
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