Jeff Niemann To Undergo Shoulder Surgery | The Process Report

Jeff Niemann To Undergo Shoulder Surgery

Jeff Niemann’s attempt to come back from an injury-plagued 2012 season has ended before throwing an official pitch in 2013.

Niemann, 30, missed most of last season after breaking his leg in Toronto. He returned to the mound later in the year but was soon shut down with shoulder soreness. Deemed healthy, he entered camp this February vying for the final spot in the rotation. The right-hander’s velocity was noticeably lower this spring, however, both the player and the team said there was no cause for concern.

Ultimately, Roberto Hernandez was named the team’s final starter with Niemann making the opening day roster as a relief pitcher. Despite not throwing a pitch in the regular season, Niemann was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder soreness on April 5th. After seeking a second opinion, he will undergo surgery on his right shoulder, which most likely ends his season before it starts.

It may also signify the end of his time in Tampa Bay as lingering injuries and an escalating salary makes him a non-tender candidate this winter. Niemann’s injury—while major in nature—should have a minor impact on the 2013 team. As mentioned, he was bumped in the rotation, and was slated to serve as the long-man in the bullpen. In his absence, Brandon Gomes was recalled, giving Joe Maddon more flexibility on a game-to-game basis. Cesar Ramos, Jamey Wright, along with Gomes, are able to throw multiple innings making the need for a designated long reliever less of an issue.

As for starting pitching, the loss of Niemann weakens the depth chart a bit. However, it would have been foolish to count on him for significant innings considering his history. Top prospects Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi each move up a rung on the organizational ladder and offer more durability, talent, and upside than Niemann at this stage of his career.

Niemann’s biggest impact will be on the team’s budget and roster construction. Though not a game-changing amount of money, his $3 million salary likely limits the front office’s ability to add payroll in season. In regards to the roster, his imminent move to the 60-day DL will open a spot on the 40-man roster. This can be used later in the season to promote a non-roster player (Wil Myers) or to claim a player off waivers from another organization. If the Rays qualify for the postseason, and Niemann remains disabled, the team could petition for a playoff roster exemption for a pitcher called up after September 1st.

Should this be the end of Niemann’s career with the Rays, his time in Tampa Bay should be deemed a success even though he never fulfilled the promise of a top-five selection. Considering, he was damaged goods from the start, it is quite an achievement to get nearly 100 regular-season appearances (92 starts, five in relief) out of his right arm. When healthy, he was effective (4.08 ERA) and showed signs of improvement with age.

The Process Report wishes Niemann luck in his recovery and, hopefully, in the resumption of his career.

One Comment

  1. That’s too bad. I sort of thought, with work, that he could have a James Shields type of career. Never profound, but always upper tier.

    All the best, Jeff.

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