Yankees’ Frankie Montas could miss 2023 season with shoulder surgery
TAMPA — On the day the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field, the team revealed one of them is already staring down surgery that potentially will cost him the season.
Right-hander Frankie Montas is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic shoulder surgery next Tuesday, manager Aaron Boone announced on Wednesday, and in a best-case scenario he will not be back until late this season.
The extent of the surgery is yet to be determined, but doctors will use arthroscopy to find out exactly what part of Montas’ shoulder is causing him issues.
“They have an idea [what’s wrong],” Boone said. “Once they’re in there, they’ll know: Do they have to touch the labrum or touch the rotator cuff? That’ll determine if you have to add weeks to the surgery.
“Best case is he would be back late in the season. … If it’s just a scope, then he could potentially be back late in the year.”
Montas, 29, is set to become a free agent after this season.
Last year, Montas dealt with shoulder inflammation that resulted in two stints on the injured list — including one shortly before the Yankees acquired him from the Athletics in July. He felt more discomfort over the winter during multiple attempts to get through a throwing program. Montas then saw Dr. Chris Ahmad, the Yankees’ team physician. After another shutdown, he consulted noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who cleared him to start throwing again, but the shoulder issue persisted.
“He will hopefully have a successful surgery because he is a hell of a pitcher when healthy and hopefully his career will resume,” general manager Brian Cashman told The Post’s Joel Sherman. “We will know more after surgery and maybe he will resume with us, it’s possible we get him back. We will have to see.”
Another member of the rotation, Nestor Cortes, also entered camp with a hamstring strain, but the Yankees believe the left-hander could still be ready for the start of the season.
Domingo German is expected to be the favorite to replace Montas in the rotation, with Clarke Schmidt providing another option. The Yankees’ starting depth falls off from there, however after they traded away much of it last season.
Three of the starting pitchers the Yankees dealt — Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears and Luis Medina — went to Oakland in the trade for Montas, which also brought reliever Lou Trivino to The Bronx. Montas pitched to a 6.35 ERA in 39 ²/₃ innings with the Yankees before landing back on the IL in mid-September with the same shoulder issue, costing him the ALDS and limiting him to a relief role in the ALCS.
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“Look, we knew when we traded for him that he had missed time with the shoulder,” Boone said. “That’s the nature of a pitcher, though. They’re able to get back on the mound and pitchers will go sometimes their entire career, if you examined them on an MRI from a shoulder standpoint, there’s labrum issues, there’s rotator cuff issues, but things that they’re able to pitch with all the time. Obviously having dealt with a shoulder situation and that it’s manifested itself to where he’s had to go to surgery, yeah, there’s some level of that [wondering whether the Yankees traded for an injured pitcher].”
The Yankees bolstered the top of their rotation this offseason when they signed Carlos Rodon to join Gerrit Cole, Cortes and Luis Severino. But the loss of Montas opens a hole for the fifth starter and threatens to expose their lack of starting pitching depth.
In the meantime, the Yankees hope German — who posted a 3.61 ERA across 14 starts and 72 ¹/₃ innings last year — can help fill the void left by Montas.
“I’m really excited about where Domingo is right now,” Boone said. “His work has been excellent, he’s in great shape. I feel like his frame of mind is really good. I do feel like there’s been a lot of maturity that’s happened with him over the last couple years, but even from last year to this spring so far. He certainly understands where he’s at in his career and the opportunities that are in front of him right now.”