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Blue Jays' Ryu Hyun-jin undergoes season-ending elbow operation

In this Canadian Press file photo via the Associated Press on June 1, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Rogers Centre in Toronto. (Canadian Press)
In this Canadian Press file photo via the Associated Press on June 1, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Rogers Centre in Toronto. (Canadian Press)

Toronto Blue Jays starter Ryu Hyun-jin has undergone season-ending elbow surgery, a procedure that will keep him out for at least a year.

The Blue Jays announced Saturday in Toronto, before hosting the New York Yankees, that Ryu received "revision ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction with a flexor tendon repair." In simple terms, Ryu had Tommy John surgery.

The club had been hoping that the South Korean pitcher would only need a partial, more minor repair, but it was decided during the surgery to go ahead with the full repair.

Ryu had been placed on the 15-day injured list on June 2, a day after leaving a start against the Chicago White Sox after only four innings with forearm tightness. He was initially diagnosed with forearm inflammation, but the team later said he was dealing with forearm strain and elbow inflammation.

This is the second Tommy John surgery for Ryu, who had his first as a high school pitching prospect in South Korea in 2004.

As a big leaguer, Ryu missed the entire 2015 season following shoulder surgery while pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He returned in July 2016 but made only one start before shutting things down because of elbow problems.

This was Ryu's third season of his four-year, $80 million contract.

In his first season, shortened to 60 games because of COVID-19, Ryu posted a 2.69 ERA in 12 starts and finished third in the American League Cy Young Award race. The Blue Jays also made the postseason for the first time since 2016.

He pitched well in the first half of 2021 but struggled mightily down the stretch, with a 6.21 ERA in August and a 9.20 ERA in September.

That trend continued at the beginning of this season, as Ryu was rocked for 11 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings over his first two outings.

Ryu hit the IL on April 17 with left forearm inflammation. He was activated on May 14 and pitched to a 1.72 ERA in three starts the rest of that month.

However, things fell apart again in his first start of June, and now he will go through an extended absence for the third time in his major league career.

As a Blue Jay, Ryu has gone 21-12 with a 4.07 ERA in 49 starts. During his start against the White Sox, Ryu became only the second South Korean pitcher in major league history, after Park Chan-ho, to surpass 1,000 career innings. (Yonhap)

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