SEATTLE – Marco Gonzales won’t throw another pitch for the Mariners this season.
On Sunday afternoon, the Mariners veteran pitcher announced that he will be having season-ending surgery on his left forearm.
“It’s been recommended and I’ve committed and decided to get a procedure done to decompress the nerve on my forearm,” Gonzales said. “This comes after a lengthy process of trying to find answers, doing a lot of testing, MRIs, CTs, conservative treatments, injections, the list goes on.”
After flying to Los Angeles and meeting with Dr. Steven Shin, the director of hand surgery at Cedars-Sinai Orthopaedics, Gonzales arrived at a diagnosis and answer for the discomfort in his forearm. Shin performed the surgery to repair Cal Raleigh’s torn ligament in his thumb.
“He is the one who recommended that we get this kind of cleaned out,” Gonzales said of the diagnosis from Shin. “It’s not a repair surgery procedure. It’s a clean-out. This is going to officially end my 2023, but this gives me the best chance to move forward and get past this, so it doesn’t happen any further and gives me my best chance to be ready for spring training in 2024.”
The former Gonzaga standout was placed on the 15-day injured list on June 3 with what the team thought was a flexor strain. He’d felt discomfort in the forearm in the days after his start on May 28.
But as he tried to work his way back from the injury, Gonzales began to think it wasn’t a flexor strain. A visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrachim he in Los Angeles, who had performed his Tommy John surgery in 2016, revealed a nerve issue and not a flexor strain.
But even with the treatment plan for the nerve, Gonzales found minimal relief.
“So basically, during my last game on May 28, It just became harder and harder to get loose each inning,” he said. “I felt some achy soreness in my forearm and then in the middle of it and basically ever since then, each time I go to throw a baseball I feel this aching, sore pain in the middle of my forearm.”
Gonzales grew more disappointed each time he would think progress was being made in his recovery only to have the same setback.
“It just confusing and frustrating,” he said. “It felt like we would be on to something and the treatment would be working. And each step we were just using the information that we had from the tests that we were doing, trying to come up with a treatment plan. I’d get to Day 1 of throwing and have to shut it down because we’re right back in the same spot. It was kind of a lost feeling.”
Gonzales and the Mariners medical staff went back through every single test he’d undergone to see if something was missed and an electromyography test that the nerve was flagged.
Shin diagnosed it as anterior interosseous nerve syndrome.
“Basically it’s the compression of that nerve and that nerve controls motor function for protonating your wrist and your index finger, which is very important for a pitcher,” Gonzales said. “In baseball players, this is somewhat rare.”
Gonzales did plenty of research on the issue and the procedure.
“There’s been a couple of pitchers who I’ve reached out to who’ve had the surgery and thankfully have had great success with it,” Gonzales said. “Scott Alexander from the Giants and Brandon Morrow both had it done by Dr. Shin as well and highly recommended him.”
Both Alexander and Morrow told him the procedure provided relief from the issue.
“Thankfully it’s not a ligament or tendon or anything that needs repair,” Gonzales said.
Because it’s not a repair but a clean up, Gonzales should be ready to have a normal offseason.
“Thankfully, we’re talking about a few months and we’re not talking about a year rehab process,” he said. “This does give me my best chance to have a normal offseason which is great news overall. I’ll be able to hit my normal throwing time for the year to start next spring training.”
Gonzales made 10 starts for Seattle this season, posting a 4-1 record with a 5.22 ERA. The Mariners were 7-3 in his outings.
He will enter the final year of the four-year, $30 million contract extension he signed with the Mariners prior to the 2019 season. He will earn $12 million next season.