BALTIMORE—The Orioles’ saves leader, Félix Bautista, who was producing a historic season in the bullpen, will have Tommy John surgery next month, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on Saturday.
Bautista, 28, who suffered a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament on August 25th, was placed on the 15-day injured list the next day.
“That was kind of the long-term conclusion as soon as we had our arms around the injury,” Elias said. “Everybody involved, and to Félix’s credit, bless his heart, there might be a window to keep his arm throwing, up and running, but we just ran out of time for this to be a feasible and successful option for the postseason, and it’s not making sense, so we went ahead and scheduled the surgery.’
Instead of having surgery immediately, Bautista traveled with the team and attempted to throw again, eventually progressing to bullpen sessions,and a simulated game on Tuesday.
“There’s nothing that changed,” Elias said. “There’s nothing that happened in the last couple of weeks since he’s been throwing other than it became evident to us that this wasn’t going to get where it needed to go in terms of his buildup and restoration of skill to go out and pitch in the playoffs for it to be worth losing more time.”
The Orioles hoped that he could pitch in the postseason, but instead his season is over, and he’s expected to miss the 2024 season as well.
“We expect it to be a normal, routine Tommy John,” Elias said. “He should be back to being Félix Bautista in spring training 2025.”
Bautista was 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA in 56 games with 33 saves. He struck out 110 of the 237 batters he faced and was named to the American League All-Star team.
Elias said the surgery would be performed in the first or second week of October by Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas.
Bautista has agreed to a contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.
“We’re going to miss the hell of out the guy,” Elias said. “We’re rallying around him and the group. He’s going to be with us for the playoffs. He’s a huge part of the clubhouse. It’s going to be nice having him there.”
Elias lauded Bautista’s courage.
“He’s a really tough dude,” Elias said. “He’s been through a lot in his life where he came from, 10 years in the minors, coming out of nowhere. The news when it happened, and the day after it happened, we had a brief glimmer of hope that it wouldn’t be torn. We got the MRI results and heard from the doctors. It was really disappointing for everyone there, but credit to him, he got over it quickly and got back to work. He started focusing on the future.
“He’s doing awesome now. This is unfortunately something that we all live with in baseball. Bad timing for him and the team, but it’s just temporary. Thank goodness, we have the surgery to fix this injury, and so it’s basically become a matter of time and hard work, and you’re back.”
Elias and the Orioles’ medical staff knew it wasn’t likely Bautista could return.
“It was a pipe dream to begin with, and it just seemed increasingly far-fetched, but I think it was responsible of everyone, including him, and admirable of him to want to try,” Ellias said “He wanted to keep pitching, and the doctors just thought this might be a case where there might be a glimmer of hope they might pull it off. If we had two months left, we maybe could, but we’re playing a playoff game in a week and to bum rush, that doesn’t make sense for anybody, so we’re going to go ahead and get this behind us.”