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Tampa Bay Rays: Shawn Tolleson Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

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Mar 23, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Shawn Tolleson (38) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Shawn Tolleson (38) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Signed this offseason to bolster the bullpen, Shawn Tolleson will not throw pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays as he underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.

This past winter, the Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson to a one-year deal, hoping that the veteran could find his way back to the 2015 season when he saved 35 games for the Texas Rangers.

However, Tolleson will not be pitching for the Rays anytime soon as the team announced via their pre-game press release that he underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in Texas and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season and the majority of 2018, which was reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Tolleson was slowed this spring due to elbow and lingering back spasm issues, pitching just five innings before being shut down. He opened the season on the 60-day, having been diagnosed with a flexor strain and was projected to return sometime in June. Unfortunately, for the Rays and Tolleson, the spring issues ultimately led to Wednesday’s surgery.

"Rays Pregame Press Release: Shawn Tolleson, who has been sidelined for the duration of the season, underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Wednesday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Dr. Barry Meister performed the procedure in Dallas…Tolleson will remain in Dallas for his rehabilitation."

Tolleson was signed to a one-year, $1 million incentive laden major league deal that could max out at $1.5 million based on the number of games that he appeared in. It was a low risk, and a gamble for the Rays that Tolleson could return to his 2014-15 prominence when he appeared in 137 games while posting a 2.88 ERA with 145 strikeouts in 144 innings pitched.

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In 2014 as the Rangers setup man, Tolleson went 3-1 (72.2-IP, 64 Games) with a 2.76 ERA. He had 69 strikeouts, walking just 28. His 2014 performance led the Rangers to make him their closer in 2015 and he appeared in 73 games, saving 35 out of 37 save opportunities. He would finish the season going 6-4 with a 2.99 ERA with 76 strikeouts with 17 walks in 72.1 innings pitched.

Back issues were an issue for Tolleson last season with the Texas Rangers, which eventually led to his removal as the closer. He would save 11 games, but posted an ERA of 7.38 with a 2-2 record before the Rangers sent him to the minors. However, the back issues flared up again and he was outrighted off the roster becoming a free agent.

The Rays did their due diligence prior to signing him, and he was medically cleared reporting to spring training healthy and ready to pitch his way into the bullpen and solidify the back-end that would include Xavier Cedeno, Brad Boxberger and Jesus Colome.

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In other Rays’ news, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times via Twitter reports that there is no schedule set when Brad Miller (DL, abdominal strain) will resume baseball activities, though hoping to return next Friday when he’s eligible to come off the DL. As well, he also reported that there is no date set for when Matt Duffy will resume his rehab assignment. Finally, Wilson Ramos was at Tropicana Field and took batting practice… Cash said Wilson was very impressive hitting balls where not usually hit.

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