The Detroit Tigers announced on Wednesday evening that outfielder Riley Greene underwent UCL reconstruction on his non-throwing elbow and is out for the rest of the season. Greene has been moved to the 60-day injured list. Right-hander Brenan Hanifee has been added to the 40-man roster and called up from Triple-A Toledo.
Dr. Keith Meister performed the surgery, and the prognosis appears to be very good. Greene is expected to make a full recovery in time for a normal spring training, so we can hope this will have little effect on him, or the Tigers going forward.
By and large, position players seem to suffer no lasting impact on their performance. Plenty of outfielders, from Bryce Harper to Akil Baddoo have required the procedure. But it is one of the stranger Tommy John surgeries we’ve seen. Not only was it apparently caused by the impact of landing on his right elbow making a diving catch in Chicago against the White Sox on September 1 that caused the tear, but it wasn’t even his throwing arm that was injured.
At the time, Greene was as confused about the injury as anyone.
“I thought I dove pretty normal, in the right way,” Greene said. “I didn’t think I did anything wrong with the dive. I just hit the ground pretty hard.”
The injury is already the third significant trip to the injured list of Greene’s two-year major league career. A fractured foot on a foul ball at the end of 2022 spring training camp cost him about 10 weeks. A leaping catch at the wall in late May of this season saw him suffer a stress reaction in his left fibula, initially considered a stress fracture, upon landing. Fortunately that injury cost him only five weeks.
All of this has some worried about his durability, but the Tigers say they don’t want Greene to play any other way. He’s made a host of spectacular diving or leaping catches in his short career, and that outstanding closing ability on tough balls in play is a key facet of his defensive game.
The foul ball off the foot was just a fluky injury that has been seen plenty of times before. With Matt Manning taking two comebackers off the foot this year for two fractures, perhaps it’s time to invest in some reinforced cleats. The stress reaction on a fairly routine looking landing from a jump at the wall was more concerning.
The UCL tear from a single impact is just bizarre. Hard to think of a similar injury to a non-throwing arm that didn’t have plenty of wear and tear on it already.
Still, nothing is related, so there really isn’t anything to do but rehab the elbow and get back out there. Hopefully this is just a blip that will become a footnote to a very long and successful career for Greene.
The Tigers have announced the following roster moves:— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) September 20, 2023
*Following last night's game, optioned RHP Brendan White to Triple A Toledo.
*Selected RHP Brenan Hanifee from Triple A Toledo.
*To make room for Hanifee on the 40-man roster, transferred OF Riley Greene to the 60-day IL.