NEW YORK — Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed Friday that right-hander Tommy Kahnle has been shut down with right forearm tightness and will likely need to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Before the Yankees' home opener, Kahnle had been placed on New York's 10-day injured list with a right ulnar collateral ligament injury, retroactive to July 28, as team officials initially believed the injury would not require surgery.
After an MRI and evaluation with team doctor Christopher Ahmad, however, the news got worse for the Yankees. Kahnle will be out for the season, and perhaps next.
"He's probably headed for surgery," manager Aaron Boone said. "It's one of those where your heart just goes out to Tommy right now knowing that it's a significant injury that's got to be taken care of."
Boone said the tightness in Kahnle's forearm dates back to Tuesday as the Yankees' went through back-to-back postponements of their road games in Philadelphia. When New York's home series against the Phillies was moved to Baltimore — in response to the Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak — Kahnle began to experience discomfort.
"He felt it when we went to our workout at Camden Yards on Tuesday night and he didn't throw, because he just felt some tightness," Boone explained. "Then Wednesday in our first game out there when he went out to throw, he shut down his throwing."
Jordan Montgomery — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and made his regular-season debut on Friday — said he and his teammates are there to support Kahnle moving forward.
"Take it day by day and he knows he can call me whenever. I'm a phone call away if he needs advice or just someone to talk to," Montgomery said. "But he works hard. Once he gets the okay, he'll be right back to the grind."
Another teammate that's already gone through the Tommy John recovery process is Kyle Higashioka, who started behind the plate on Friday.
"It's obviously very sad to hear anybody is headed to a lengthy stay on the sidelines," Higashioka said. "I think there's a lot of promise in the fact that Tommy John has a really high success rate. A lot of guys come back just like normal. We're hoping that with Kahnle, we're hoping to keep his spirits up and that he has a smooth recovery."
The diagnosis on Kahnle's elbow explains why he wasn't available in Thursday night's win against the Orioles. Boone chose to ride Jonathan Loaisiga into a third inning of work and the right-hander gave up a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth frame.
At the time, when asked why he didn't bring Kahnle in to shut the door and get New York to the ninth, Boone said he'd "have something on that tomorrow."
Kahnle made just one appearance this season, but in those three outs he looked magnificent. The 30-year-old tossed a scoreless frame with three strikeouts, getting out of a jam against the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
Considering the lengthy coronavirus-induced hiatus that pushed back the season — and the short runway in Summer Camp building up to Opening Day — ballplayers across the league will certainly be susceptible to injuries.
Especially with pitchers, Boone said, it's important to keep tabs and be smart in building them up properly.
"Log as much information about what they were able to do from a throwing standpoint and as best we could make evaluations when we got here and started summer camp," Boone explained. "So, as best we can, you feel like our guys are in a good spot but certainly trying to be mindful of not pushing the envelope so much when you want to because of the urgency of everything."
The move sending Kahnle to the 10-day injured list freed up a spot for Montgomery on the Yankees' 30-man roster.
In 2019, Kahnle was one of New York's best relievers. The right-hander posted a 3.67 ERA in 61 1/3 innings over 72 total appearances. He was tied for the second-most strikeouts in the Bombers' potent 'pen.
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