Rockies’ Tyler Kinley likely done for the season, will undergo elbow surgery

Right-handed reliever Tyler Kinley had an outside shot of representing the Rockies at next month’s All-Star Game. Now, that dream is gone and his excellent season is very likely over.

Kinley, 31, will undergo surgery to repair his damaged right elbow, manager Bud Black said Wednesday.

“Tyler is going to undergo a procedure soon,” Black said before the Rockies hosted Cleveland. “When that procedure takes place, we will know more.”

Black described the injury as an elbow sprain and flexor tendon tear. Tommy John surgery, in which the elbow is reconstructed, is not needed at this time, Black said. The manager confirmed, however, that Kinley’s season is probably over.

“That answer will probably be clearer once he has the procedure, but I’m thinking that this is probably going to cost him the season,” Black said.

Kinley was placed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday, retroactive to last Thursday. The Rockies will now likely put him on the 60-day IL, freeing up a spot on the club’s 40-man roster.

At the time he went on the IL, Kinley’s 0.75 ERA (through 25 appearances) was the sixth-lowest in the majors and the third-lowest in the National League. Kinley’s ERA ranks as the third-lowest through a Colorado reliever’s first 25 games of a season in franchise history, and the lowest ever by a right-handed reliever.

“It’s frustrating for Tyler, first and foremost, because he was throwing the ball so well and was in such a good place,” Black said. “It’s a bummer, for sure.”

Kinley overcame elbow soreness last season but rest took care of the problem. The injury is more severe this time.

“We were in San Diego (last weekend) and he tried to play catch,” Black said. “He didn’t feel (like) progress was being made. He was still sore. That necessitated the MRI and the scans.”

Kinley agreed to a $1.025 million contract to avoid arbitration this past offseason. He’s slated to reach free agency after the 2024 season.

June swoon. Outfielder Sam Hilliard doesn’t have to be reminded of his recent struggles at the plate that leave him with a slash line of .161./.268/.506. and no home runs since May 14.  But he’s trying to stay optimistic.

“I’ve had like four or five bad games in a row,” he said. “Before that, the numbers weren’t there either, but I was hitting the ball hard.  So, in my opinion, it looks worse than it is.”

It doesn’t look pretty. After going 0-for-4 and striking out twice with runners in scoring position in Colorado’s  4-3 loss to Cleveland Tuesday night, Hilliard is 0-for-20 in June, with 10 strikeouts. For the season, he’s hitting .148 with runners in scoring position.

Hilliard, 28, admits that he’s tensing up a bit at the plate sometimes but believes he can snap out of his funk. Hilliard, however, still has options and a trip to Triple-A Albuquerque is not out of the question if he continues to struggle.

“I know exactly what I need to do and I can recognize it when I’m playing (tense),” Hilliard said. “I have recognized it the last couple of games. The plan is to relax and try to have fun. Then, when I get the opportunity, to try and take advantage of it.”

Black said Hilliard is working overtime but acknowledged that the outfielder is pressing.

“Sam is holding his head up high and he’s working hard,” Black said. “Hopefully there is a turnaround here soon because he can do a few things. He’s got the raw power, he’s got speed and he can impact the game in a couple of different ways. But right now it’s not happening.”


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