Red Sox reliever Zack Kelly will require elbow surgery, manager Alex Cora announced to reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) prior to Wednesday’s 10-4 loss to the Twins at Fenway Park.
Kelly will undergo an “ulnar nerve transposition revision” on a date that is still to be determined, according to the team. The right-hander’s UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) and internal brace are still intact.
After injuring his right elbow in last Wednesday’s loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, Kelly underwent further imaging in Boston on Friday. The 28-year-old’s MRI came back clean, but the Red Sox still sent the results to the physician who performed his internal bracing procedure in May 2020 in order to get a second opinion.
Additionally, Kelly visited an orthopedic surgeon in Alabama in recent days. The result of that visit was the “best case scenario,” per Cotillo.
“The ulnar nerve wasn’t damaged but it’s not attached to whatever it has to be,” Cora said of Kelly. “He’s going to have surgery. We have to wait on when. As far as surgeries, the doctor is backtracked with all that stuff so we have to wait. But he’ll be out for a while.”
Because he underwent an internal bracing procedure on his right elbow in lieu of Tommy John surgery nearly three years ago, Kelly has dealt with this sort of issue before. He was with the Angels at that time and would have missed the entirety of the 2020 minor-league season had it not been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelly was released by Los Angeles shortly thereafter and joined the Red Sox as a minor-league free agent that December.
At this point in time, it is not yet known if Kelly will be able to pitch again this season. The righty currently owns a 3.68 ERA with six strikeouts to six walks in his first six relief appearances (7 1/3 innings) of the season after making his first-ever Opening Day roster last month. He was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day injured list this past Sunday.
When he left last Wednesday’s game, Kelly was visibly upset and had tears in his eyes. At that moment, his previous elbow injury and unique journey from going undrafted out of Division II Newberry College to the major-leagues were both on his mind.
“I was definitely emotional for two reasons,” said Kelly. “One, because I care. I care about this game, these guys and I enjoy doing this. Two, just all the shit I went through to get here. It’s just a lot. Whenever something like that happens, you get emotional about it.”
(Picture of Zack Kelly: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)