Sean Burnett’s year-long comeback from elbow surgery came to an abrupt end Wednesday when the Angels left-hander was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, an injury that will end his season and possibly his career.
Burnett, making his third appearance after being activated off the disabled list last Friday, got Michael Saunders to pop out to shortstop in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s 6-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.
But after the pitch, he summoned Manager Mike Scioscia and trainer Rick Smith to the mound and was removed from the game. Burnett returned to Southern California on Wednesday, and an MRI test revealed the tear.
Burnett, 31, will now have to decide whether he will undergo a second Tommy John surgery. The eight-year veteran had his first ligament replacement surgery in 2004, and he also had shoulder surgery in 2005.
Burnett is in the second year of a two-year, $8-million contract that includes a $4.5-million option for 2015, which the Angels can buy out for $500,000. He was placed on the disabled list, and the Angels recalled right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who will start Thursday night against Seattle.
Burnett, a former Washington Nationals standout, was one of baseball’s more durable and dependable left-handed relievers before being limited by an elbow impingement to 13 games with the Angels in 2013. He didn’t pitch past May last season, and he underwent surgery to clean out the elbow last August.
Burnett was so distraught after Tuesday night’s game that he had to cut off a postgame interview.
“There’s a lot of frustration right now, I’m trying to stay positive, I’ll see what the doctor says tomorrow,” Burnett said before burying his face in a towel and fighting off tears as he walked away from reporters. “I can’t ...”