Between 2008-2009, J.P. Howell was among the most effective relievers in baseball, posting a 2.48 ERA and striking out 171 batters in 156 innings. He was sidelined with "shoulder weakness" during spring training, however, and though he made progress in rehab and put himself on target for a late-May return, he had to cut a simulated game short on Monday after just 12 pitches, and now it looks like he's going to need season-ending surgery.
Officially there is no update yet on the status of LHP J.P. Howell.
But indications are that Howell went to Birmingham, Ala., today to be seen by Dr. James Andrews, will have surgery this week to repair his labrum and will be out about a full year.
The Rays haven't confirmed that this is the case, but it certainly feels inevitable. And while the bullpen hasn't exactly been a problem for Tampa Bay in the early going, nobody likes to lose an arm of Howell's caliber. The Rays, it seems, will have to keep replying on Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, and Dan Wheeler to get them through the late innings.
Be sure to check out DRays Bay for more on Howell's situation.