Carlson has dealt with elbow issues since the Mariners drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft.
Sam Carlson’s 2018 season is done without ever really getting started.
The young right-handed pitcher, who was rated as the organization’s top pitching prospect by nearly every media and baseball outlet coming into the season, underwent surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament on Monday in Arlington, Texas. Baseball sources confirmed the report from MLB.com on Monday. Carlson also sent out updates via social media.
Dr. Keith Meister, the team orthopedist for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, performed the procedure. Typical recovery time for a UCL replacement is 12-15 months.
“For the longest time, we tried rest and rehab,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “Any time that you can avoid surgery, you are better off, especially for a player that young. We really didn’t deem it was necessary. He continued to try to rehab and get into a throwing program. But each time he got back to pitching off a mound, he kept running into trouble. Ultimately, we decided to send him and get an update to his MRI and have him see some specialists.”
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Carlson posted a picture of himself post-op on instgram (below) with the comment.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out to me in the last few days. I have the best support system in the world and I can’t thank them enough. This is not what I expected in my first professional season, however there is no smooth path to the top. Now it is time for the real grind to start. Much love and go M’s! “
Carlson, 20, has dealt with arm issues since the Mariners selected him in the second round (55th overall) of the 2017 draft out of Burnsville High School in Minnesota. He pitched in two Arizona Rookie League games in 2017, throwing three innings. But he developed minor elbow discomfort and was shut down for the rest of the season as a precaution.
The Mariners hoped that an offseason of rest and strengthening would allow Carlson to come back healthy for this season. But the elbow and forearm discomfort returned during the Mariners’ mini-camp in February. He was shut down again and given a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection. After rehabbing and strengthening the arm again, he’d recently resumed throwing off the mound as part of his throwing program. But a setback forced him to have the surgery.
“I hate that it took almost a year to get there,” Dipoto said. “I feel like for the most part it cost him a season of playing. But it’s the smartest thing to do now. The surgery was successful. He’s going to miss the next 12 to 15 months. But when he comes back, he’s still only going to be 20. It’s an opportunity to now get his career rolling because it’s been slowed by this.”
Dipoto said Carlson was frustrated by not being able to get back to normal.
“He felt like he was always stuck,” Dipoto said. “He felt like he was always in Arizona and always going through the process without the reward. And that’s a tough thing to do. He’s a great teammate. He worked hard throughout the whole rehab process. Unfortunately, now he’s going to have to spend another year, year and a half doing the same thing. He’s such a good guy. He’s really well liked by the training staff down there. I’m glad for him that this gives him a new start. He does work hard and he will bounce back.”