Marco Gonzales addressed the media today to announce that he will have season-ending surgery to address the lingering nerve issue that’s kept him out since June. The surgery will officially end his 2023 season, but the good news is the recovery period for this surgery—which he referred to as a “clean-out” procedure—is much shorter than a “repair” procedure, like a tendon repair (Tommy John, for example), so Gonzales expects to be able to go through his normal ramp-up procedure and anticipates a regular start to spring training. Dr. Steven Shin, who also performed a procedure on Cal Raleigh’s thumb after the 2022 season, will do the surgery.
Gonzales described the process to uncover the root of his issue as lengthy and “super frustrating”, involving multiple false starts and seemingly endless tests. “It was just kind of a lost feeling,” he said. Gonzales first noticed the issue when, during his last start (May 28), he found it harder and harder to get loose between innings, and reported feeling some achy soreness in the middle of his forearm. That soreness would never really go away, even after a course of treatments ranging from conservative to more intense. Every time he attempted to ramp back up to throwing, the aching pain would reappear, and Gonzales and the medical staff would have to start all over back at square one.
Ultimately, Gonzales was diagnosed with anterior interosseous nerve (AIN) syndrome, a rare (less than 1% of cases) syndrome that is associated with overuse injuries but is not heavily documented among MLB pitchers. In AIN syndrome, the nerve that controls pronation for one’s wrist and index finger—”so, very important for a pitcher,” opines Marco drily—is compressed and requires surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve. While rare, there are cases of MLB pitchers dealing with this issue: Scott Alexander, then with the Dodgers, dealt with it in 2019 and former Mariner Brandon Morrow also dealt with the issue and the same lengthy search for a diagnosis as Gonzales, at one point even having sanding solution injected in his arm to try to relieve the pain. Thankfully, both those pitchers have made themselves available to Gonzales as counsel, and both highly recommended having the procedure done by Dr. Shin, as they both had.
Also working in Gonzales’s favor: the recovery time for this surgery, which he anticipates undergoing soon, is a matter of a few months rather than a year-long or more recovery. “So this does give me my best chance to have a normal off-season, which is great news overall,” says Gonzales.
“It’s a relief,” he says, “because we’ve been so frustrated about this process.” But Gonzales also expressed appreciation to the Mariners training and medical staff.
“Our medical team here really just gave me every tool to go through this process and they were super-patient with me and accommodating to everything that I’ve needed. So that’s been a great help.”
He also said he’s excited to spend some more time with his “girls,” his wife and two young daughters, the youngest of whom was just born in April. “Silver linings, you know.”