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Mariners’ Robbie Ray needs elbow surgery, will miss rest of season

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Seattle Mariners

Mar 31, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) walks to the dugout following the second inning against the Cleveland Guardians at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA -- Seattle Mariners left-hander Robbie Ray will have surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his pitching elbow and will miss the rest of the season.

Seattle manager Scott Servais made the announcement before the Mariners lost to Philadelphia 6-5.

“Tough news,” Servais said. “Obviously, it’s really hard for Robbie. He’s a really good competitor and we miss not only what he does every fifth day when he takes the ball, but certainly being a really good teammate and having a guy around that we can lean on.”

Ray, in the second season of a $115 million, five-year contract, was injured in his season debut against Cleveland on March 31 when he walked five. He threw 91 pitches over 3 1/3 innings and walked five, one shy of his career high.

“In the second inning it felt a little tight, but it didn’t seem out of the ordinary,” Ray said. “It was a cold night, I just thought maybe it took me a while to get loose in that second inning. I didn’t really think that much about it, but after that my arm started to tighten up a good amount.”

Ray, 31, has been incredibly durable for most of his career. Aside from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Ray has made at least 28 starts five times since 2016, including the 2021 season with Toronto when he won the AL Cy Young Award.

“He’s down,” Servais said. “He loves being a part of what we’re doing here and he’s a big part of what we’re doing. You want to see him again in 2023. That’s a downer.”

Servais said Ray will consult with Texas Rangers physician Dr. Keith Meister.

“It’s unfortunate in the game,” Servais said. “Knowing Robbie and how he’s wired, he’ll come back and come back stronger than ever.”

Ray is 74-71 with a 3.96 ERA in 10 seasons with Detroit (2014), Arizona (2015-20), Toronto (2020-21) and Seattle.

“It was tough to hear,” said Mariners right-hander Logan Gilbert, who started in Wednesday’s 6-5 defeat. “We were all hoping for the best. Still a huge part of this team and a leader and always will be. I know he’s still going to have a huge effect on the rest of the season. Just feel for him during this time, praying for him and hoping for the best with a speedy recovery.”

Seattle made it through last season without a starter missing a turn. Chris Flexen has been filling Ray’s slot and is 0-4 with a 10.38 ERA in four starts. Servais said the club is evaluating options to fill Ray’s spot in the rotation.

“Still working through what’s the best course of action,” he said.