NEW YORK — At first, Scott Efros thought the mild pain in his right elbow was the wear and tear of a long season, a lingering sensation that couldn’t be traced back to any specific moment.
So when Effross had an MRI and learned he had torn his ulnar collateral ligament, meaning he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery and spend the next 12 months in rehab, it’s safe to say the reliever was stunned.
“I was a little surprised,” Efros said Tuesday, hours before Game 1 of the American League Division II against the Guardians. “Obviously when you go in there, there’s a chance you’re going to find something you don’t want to see. For me, I think it was kind of shocking. I think every pitcher thinks it’s shocking to hear that news.”
Ephros, who the Yankees acquired from the Cubs before the summer trade deadline, was coming off his first full season in the big leagues when his arm started barking a few weeks ago. Walking through the sequence of events that led to that devastating diagnosis, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Efross first felt discomfort after an appearance against the Orioles on Sept. 30, the reliever’s fourth outing since returning from list of injured (for shoulder sprain).
“He felt something after he went out against the Orioles, the next day,” Boone said.
“Then we put him in Texas [three days later] and he felt good, sharp. In his live BP on Friday, it didn’t recover the next day and there was some concern there. So we did an MRI, and sure enough. We found out over the weekend.”
Effross’ injury is a significant loss for New York’s bullpen, not only for the postseason this fall but for next season as well. On Tuesday, the Yankees begin the ALDS without Michael King (elbow), Chad Green (Tommy John), Ron Marinaccio (shin), Zack Britton (shoulder) and Aroldis Chapman (left the roster after skipping mandatory training).
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Despite the latest twist of adversity before the start of the postseason, Ephros said he has the utmost confidence in this “resilient” bullpen, a team that has proven all year that it can overcome any obstacles thrown its way. However, he is “disappointed” and “disappointed” that he will not be able to help out and compete for the first time in his career in October.
“He felt awful for him,” Boone said. “He’s kind of heartbroken about it. It’s a blow. I mean, Scotty came in here and had a really good game. I think he’d have a really big role for us in our bullpen, but right now we’ve got to kind of back him up and we’re doing right. And hopefully everything will go well there. Someone else has to pick up that slack.”
Ephros posted a 2.13 ERA in 13 appearances with the Yankees after being acquired from Chicago. The trade for the 28-year-old was a trade that included one of New York’s top hitters, right-hander Hayden Wesneski.
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