Back in 2019, Phillies’ stud reliever Seranthony Dominguez tore his UCL in his elbow. He was sidelined for the last four months of that season, and carried the injury into the offseason. After finally realizing that the reliever needs Tommy John surgery in March 2020, there was some mystery set back. Seranthony returned to the United States to receive this surgery earlier this year, but never ended up getting it done.
However, reports have now circulated as to why Dominguez’s surgery was so delayed. Given the circumstances, the Phillies remain optimistic that Seranthony could become a regular reliever for the team in 2021.
After being a starting pitcher in the minors, Dominguez rocketed his way to the majors after converting to the bullpen in spring training 2018. As a rookie that season, he appeared in 53 games, striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings and recorded a 2.95 ERA and 0.931 WHIP.
As Jim Salisbery notes, Dominguez had emerged as a major building block for the team, a power arm capable of getting big outs with the game on the line. But Dominguez was not the same pitcher in 2019. His fastball velocity suffered a slight decline and he had trouble duplicating his success from the previous year. He allowed 8.8 hits per nine innings, up from 5 the previous season, and his WHIP was 1.459 when his season ended June 5 in San Diego after his 27th appearance.
He received surgery on July 30, 2020. His rehab has been going well since.
What Was the Hold Up?
According to Matt Gelb of the Athletic, Seranthony faced twist and turns at every corner since his injury.
COVID-19 and travel regulations really began to throw a wrench into things. After being told he needed surgery back in June of 2019, Dominguez opted to wait and try to play it out. He ended up re-aggravating it during 2020 Spring Training, forcing him to make the decision. However, his doctors then had to reschedule all non-emergency surgeries to comply with state COVID-19 guidelines. The reliever was forced to wait even longer.
After that, travel regulations affected him. He was back home in the Dominican Republic, awaiting to be a father. His girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time, “needed him back home,” Dominguez recalled, and he “did not feel too comfortable not being there for them.” Knowing this, the Phillies scheduled surgery for him in May, but Dominguez was twice denied boarding a plane to the US. Finally, once Dominguez arrived in the states on June 4, his surgery got delayed once again. The right-hander was diagnosed with COVID-19 that same day. His illness delayed the surgery until July 30.
Dominguez recently spoke out about his uphill battle:
“Looking back now, of course, I would have done the surgery the day after I got hurt,” Domínguez said last week. “But, obviously, that’s pointless.”
“I’ll be honest with you: I know that my decision probably affected my career and it may affect it still a little more. But there’s nothing I can do about it anymore.”
Will the Phillies See Him in 2021?
After the Phillies’ resigned Brad Miller, they placed Seranthony on the 60-day injured list. When asked about his return, manager Joe Girardi said that it’s possible.
“It is a possibility,” Girardi said. “I think things have to go right, and there can’t be, really, any setbacks. But right now, we’re extremely happy with where he’s at.”
Back in February, Girardi also noted that he takes it personally when guys get hurt, and does not want to rush him back either, though.
“Seranthony is a guy we are really going to have to manage his workload early on,” Girardi said. “Is he a guy not to use in back-to-back days early on? Yeah, he is. My job is to protect him from himself.”
It would likely take a Phillies’ playoff run, mixed with no setbacks during rehab, for Seranthony to see the field in 2021. With both of those ideas up in the air, though, I wouldn’t get too set on seeing the once-dominant reliever this season. Even if he does, don’t expect him to be the reliever he once was right off the get-go.
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