Giants southpaw Thomas Szapucki is undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome today, the team informed reporters (including Maria Guardado of MLB.com). The club didn’t provide a recovery timetable, though it seems likely the left-hander will miss the majority or all of the 2023 season.
Szapucki has been on the 60-day injured list since Opening Day. He left a Spring Training outing with arm discomfort that apparently is related to the nerve condition. Thoracic outlet syndrome has become relatively common for pitchers in recent years. It’s a condition that typically requires the removal of part of a rib to reduce nerve pressure on the arm.
The track record for pitchers returning from thoracic outlet syndrome is mixed at best. Diamondbacks righty Merrill Kelly bounced back from the procedure in 2020 to turn in two-plus productive seasons. The likes of Matt Harvey, Tyson Ross and (to this point) Stephen Strasburg haven’t been so fortunate. Harvey and Ross never recaptured anything approaching their pre-TOS form, while Strasburg has only been able to pitch once since undergoing the surgery nearly two years ago due to various setbacks.
Obviously, the Giants and Szapucki are hopeful he’ll be able to recapture his pre-surgery stuff and avoid those kinds of long-term complications. One of four players acquired from the Mets last summer for Darin Ruf (a trade that looks like a coup for San Francisco given the production they’ve gotten out of corner infielder J.D. Davis), Szapucki pitched 10 times in relief down the stretch. He allowed only three runs in 13 1/3 innings, striking out 16 against four walks. Szapucki’s previous major league experience consisted of five innings in which he was tagged for 15 runs in Queens.
The 26-year-old Szapucki had been considered one of the more interesting pitching prospects in the Mets’ system since entering the professional ranks as a fifth round pick in 2015. He’s been a starter for the bulk of his minor league time, including opening 16 of 18 appearances for the Mets’ top affiliate in Syracuse last year. Szapucki will collect major league service and be paid around the MLB minimum rate while he’s on the injured list. He’s controllable through the 2028 season.
San Francisco also provided updates on a pair of players who landed on the injured list this morning. Righty Ross Stripling and catcher Joey Bart each went for imaging. Bart was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain (the lowest severity) of his left groin. Stripling, whose official diagnosis was a lower back strain, has no structural damage and will be reevaluated next week.