Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann will undergo shoulder surgery on Wednesday to repair abnormalities in his rotator cuff and labrum, and will "more than likely" miss the 2013 season in its entirety, reports Bill Chastain of MLB.com.
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The 30-year-old was given several treatment options, but, according to head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield, decided that going under the knife was his best chance at making a successful comeback:
"He feels he can't compete at this level without it," said Ron Porterfield...
"He feels like right now it's bothering him too much that he just doesn't have his confidence that he can do what he needs to do."
Niemann is no stranger to shoulder surgery, as the right-hander underwent an operation on his clavicle way back in 2005, but this is the first time he's gone under the knife since making his MLB debut in 2008.
Following an injury-plagued 2012 that limited him to just 38 innings, Niemann was in contention for a rotation spot during Spring Training, but lost out on the No. 5 slot to Roberto Hernandez. The right-hander still made the Opening Day squad as a reliever, but went on the 15-day disabled list Friday with soreness in his shoulder before he could make an appearance.
The tall right-hander dealt with rotator cuff issues late last season and exhibited a noticeable drop in velocity this spring, but all signs indicate that the Rays believed he was healthy. Niemann avoided arbitration with the Rays this winter with a $3 million deal for 2013, but it's unlikely he'll be tendered a contract in the fall for his final year of arbitration eligibility.
Niemann has been a rotation mainstay with the Rays for the last five-plus seasons, posting a 4.08 ERA, 6.8 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 544⅓ innings over 92 big-league starts.
The loss of Niemann shouldn't affect the Rays' rotation depth too much, as the club has several young arms like Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi at the ready should one of their starting five go down.