May 18, 2024

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Guardians Ace Shane Bieber undergoes Tommy John surgery

Guardians Ace Shane Bieber undergoes Tommy John surgery

After two dominant starts, Shane Bieber's 2024 season is over. The pitcher will undergo Tommy John surgery in the coming days.

The Guardians struck out a league-leading 20 hits in their first two games against Oakland and Seattle, and didn't allow a run in either start. But he didn't bounce back physically as quickly as usual after his opening-day masterpiece against the Athletics. The team talked to Bieber about getting an extra day of rest before his next start, or increasing his treatment. Team president Chris Antonetti said he preferred to start his career as scheduled on Tuesday, but the pain and inflammation he suffered increased after the outing.

Bieber underwent tests on his right elbow, and consultations with Dr. Keith Meister and Dr. Neil Al-Atrash confirmed that he needed ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction.

“Just the fact that Shane was able to come out and pitch in the games that he had, specifically that one in Seattle, is just a testament to his toughness and how much he wanted to be out there,” Antonetti said. “More than anything, he wanted to continue to pitch and contribute to the team. Unfortunately.” “Now he won't be able to do that for a while.”

Bieber missed two and a half months last season due to elbow pain, but returned at the end of the season to participate in two starting matches. Over the winter, he was symptom-free and trained at Driveline Baseball in Scottsdale, Arizona to hone his mechanics and enhance his speed ahead of his contract year.

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In his two starts, Bieber's fastball was up (92.0 mph versus 91.3 mph last year), unveiling a new look change. After an injury-riddled 2023 season, Bieber has become something of a team anchor who was a perennial Cy Young Award nominee (and unanimous winner in 2020).

Instead, he's supposed to enter free agency as an unknown, having missed significant time in 2021, 2023 and 2024 — plus 2025, since the timeline for recovering from elbow surgery is typically a year or more.

The Guardians made trade offers for Bieber over the winter but chose to stick with him, leaving them either counting on him to compete or flip him this summer. Now, neither option is available.

The injury leaves the guard rotation in a precarious position. Gavin Williams is recovering from a (less serious) elbow injury and is just a few weeks away from returning to big-league action. Logan Allen will slide one day and play in Cleveland's opener on Monday. Next, the team sorts through its options.

Xzavion Curry and Ben Lively each made one start in rehab assignments in Triple-A Columbus. Both are playing catch-up after missing time in spring training due to a virus. Tyler Beede was extended as a starter in spring training but has worked out of the bullpen for the Guardians thus far.

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(Photo: Dr. Ross Cameron/USA Today)