‘Tough blow’: Cubs rookie Ethan Roberts to undergo Tommy John surgery

Cubs bullpen coach Chris Young, feeling light-headed, was taken to the hospital during the series finale in Pittsburgh. He’s ‘‘going to be all right,’’ manager David Ross said.

SHARE ‘Tough blow’: Cubs rookie Ethan Roberts to undergo Tommy John surgery
Rookie Ethan Roberts was a highlight of Cubs spring training, making the Opening Day roster with five scoreless spring outings.

Rookie Ethan Roberts was a highlight of Cubs spring training, making the Opening Day roster with five scoreless spring outings.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs announced Thursday that right-handed rookie reliever Ethan Roberts will undergo Tommy John surgery. 

“That stinks, right?” manager David Ross said. “What a great story coming out of spring and the way he was able to throw the ball, building up from last year, coming into spring and just able to make an impression.”

Roberts had been recovering from a shoulder injury that landed on the injured list in late April. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said he saw Roberts’ last live batting practice in Arizona.

“And it looked great,” Hottovy said.

But in Roberts’ first rehab outing for Triple-A Iowa over the weekend, he left the game in apparent pain. After further evaluation, ulnar collateral reconstruction surgery was recommended. A date for the operation has not yet been set.

“It’s a tough blow for him,” said veteran reliever David Robertson, who underwent Tommy John surgery himself in August 2019. “I know he was really looking forward to the season, trying to get back up. But if it’s torn, it’s torn. You can’t throw with it. I’ve been there, done that.”

Roberts earned a spot on the Opening Day roster after not allowing a run through five spring-training outings — and continued a streak of no earned runs through his first three major-league appearances. A couple of multi-run outings before he landed on the IL ballooned his ERA to 8.22. 

“We believe in him and really enjoyed getting to work with him early in the year,” Hottovy said. “No matter what happens this year, the moment in the dugout in spring training when we told him he made the team is one of those things you never forget. He’s such a good kid. He’s going to come back from this great, and we still expect really big things from him in the future.”

Medical timeout for coach

Play was halted one pitch into the bottom of the first inning Thursday as Cubs and Pirates medical personnel ran to the Cubs’ bullpen to assist bullpen coach Chris Young, who felt lightheaded, Ross said. Young was evaluated at the park and taken to a hospital to be checked further.

“He’s going to be all right,” Ross said. “I appreciate the umpires’ patience. The Pirates were extremely patient.”

Cubs starter Justin Steele said he didn’t know whom the trainers were attending to during the six-minute delay. He has spoken with Young since.

“I’m just really glad he’s OK,” Steele said.

Not quite a comeback

The Cubs rallied to seize the lead in a five-run eighth, with RBI singles from Patrick Wisdom, Nico Hoerner and Alfonso Rivas. But it only took one pitch for the Pirates to tie it. Cleanup hitter Michael Chavis sent Robertson’s first throw over the fence.

Chavis later hit a walk-off single against reliever Scott Effross in the 10th to hand the Cubs an 8-7 loss.

Norris to IL, Sampson recalled

The Cubs placed reliever Daniel Norris on the 15-day IL with a strained left index finger before the game. In a corresponding move, they recalled right-hander Adrian Sampson from Triple-A Iowa.

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