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Montas has shoulder surgery, could return for Yankees in 2nd half

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Yankees Frankie Montas
New York Yankees’ Frankie Montas pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Frankie Montas underwent successful surgery on Tuesday that may have actually gone better than the Yankees expected. 

The right-hander went under the knife to clean up his right labrum, but the doctors, led by Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, didn’t have to touch his rotator cuff, which means the recovery time won’t be as lengthy. 

He won’t start throwing until at least late May but it leaves open the possibility for him to pitch for the New York Yankees in the second half of the season. 

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“Everything went according to plan,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday. “We’re day one out of surgery, so we have a long way to go from there. We’re hopeful at some point he can get back but I don’t want to best case, worst case.”

While Boone may not want to mention “base case, worst case,” this is certainly not the worst-case scenario for the Yankees, who should feel good about having last year’s key trade deadline addition ready for a playoff run this year. 

Montas was acquired from Oakland on Aug 1st of last year after the Yankees were unable to land Luis Castillo from the Reds. The 29-year-old struggled in his first stint in pinstripes, going 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in eight starts with the Yankees. He was shut down on September 16th due to inflammation in his pitching shoulder and didn’t pitch again last year.

It also wasn’t the only time Montas had shoulder issues in 2022. 

While still with the Athletics, he left a July 3rd start against the Mariners with shoulder tightness after just 13 pitches. He returned two weeks later and put together a 2.25 ERA in starts against the Tigers and Astros before being traded to New York. 

While many are wondering why Montas didn’t have surgery over the summer but instead waited until Spring Training to have the procedure, former Major League third baseman Will Middlebrooks posted a video online explaining why that might have been the case

Middlebrooks explained that often teams contemplate giving players PRP injections to speed up the healing process or might even extract stem cells and then inject the stem cells directly into the shoulder. This would require another four to six weeks to evaluate the healing process. 

While it’s unclear if the Yankees took either of these steps with Montas, the video highlights the realities of injury discussions inside an organization. It’s unlikely the Yankees were simply waiting out Montas’ recovery but evaluating his progress and trying numerous alternative avenues before ultimately deciding that surgery was required. 

In Montas’ absence, the Yankees will likely turn to either Domingo German or Clarke Schmidt to fill their fifth starter role. Yet, now that might only need to be a few-month decision before Montas is able to return rather than a season-long conundrum that might have necessitated a trade. 

Of course, Montas isn’t the only Yankees starter with health concerns at the start of Spring Training. Left-hander Nestor Cortes has been sidelined by a strained right hamstring but has thrown twice off a mound recently and is nearing his first simulated game.

That puts him well on track to be healthy for the Yankees on Opening Day.

We’ll keep you posted on all Yankees Spring Training news and notes like this Frankie Montas story so make sure you tune in to amNew York Sports each day. 

Frankie Montas Yankees
New York Yankees starting pitcher Frankie Montas throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Milwaukee.AP Photo/Morry Gash