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SF Giants RHP Dedniel Núñez Diagnosed with UCL Sprain

SF Giants hat. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
SF Giants hat. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
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Dedniel Núñez, SF Giants
SF Giants Relief pitcher Dedniel Núñez #43 of the SF Giants pitches against the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning of the MLB spring training game on March 01, 2021, in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

According to a Tweet by Bay Area News Group SF Giants beat writer Kerry Crowley, Giants right-handed pitcher Dedniel Núñez has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a ligament in the elbow most commonly associated with Tommy John surgery. While the team has not disclosed anything about the severity of the sprain, Crowley notes that he will be seeking a second opinion, suggesting the team is concerned it could be a tear, which would require surgery.

Núñez barely reached 91 mph with his fastball during his most recent appearance last Friday. After walking the first three batters he faced, manager Gabe Kapler and the Giants training staff came to the mound and removed him from the game. In a postgame videoconference, manager Kapler revealed that he was suffering some wrist pain.

SF Giants RHP Dedniel Núñez diagnosed with a sprained UCL.

Núñez was developed as a starter by the New York Mets. However, after a strong performance at instructs last fall, the Giants selected him in the Rule 5 draft and converted him to a relief role. Before his final appearance, he had been one of the most impressive arms in camp. Núñez ranked as the 30th best prospect in the Giants system in Around the Foghorn’s preseason SF Giants prospect rankings. Here is an excerpt from Núñez’s scouting report.

"At instructs, in abbreviated outings, Núñez’s fastball sat around 94 mph and touched 97 mph. While he has flashed that velocity throughout his career, his fastball only averaged 91.5 mph in 2019 out of the rotation. That increased velocity paired with a curveball that has generated 2600-2700 RPM should give him two above-average or better pitches…Núñez is the first in a group of pitchers that have seen their stock sore in the absence of a minor-league season. As impressive as they’ve looked in these shortened outings, it’s a far cry from the wear and tear of a full season in relief. Núñez’s 2019 season was cut short by shoulder soreness, and the Rule 5 status only further impedes the Giants in their attempts to develop his potential."

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As a Rule 5 selection, Dedniel Núñez must remain on the SF Giants’ active roster for them to retain him for the entire season. However, they are given an amnesty from that provision if he is placed on the injured list and is sent on a rehab assignment in the minor leagues. While the Giants obviously hope Núñez’s injury is as mild as possible, due to the archaic Rule 5 rules, his chances of staying in the organization may have been helped if he can now be placed on the IL to begin the season.

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