Tough first start for Spencer Turnbull in his return from Tommy John surgery

Not exactly how Spencer drew this one up.

Many pitchers have come back successfully from Tommy John surgery, and based on the strength of his spring training outings, there is no reason to think Spencer Turnbull cannot do so.

But his start today in Tampa Bay was not a good first chapter of his return.

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A struggle from the start for Spencer Turnbull

Turnbull struggled right out of the gate, scuffling with his command as the first three Rays hitters collected hits and the fourth walked. Turnbull settled down somewhat after that, getting a strikeout and a double play ball to get out of the inning.

In the second inning he did not allow a run, needing to work out of a small jam thanks to a comical pop-up that fell between four Tigers in shallow center field.

But in the third inning, Turnbull completely imploded, allowing six more runs – one of which scored after Trey Wingenter had already come in to relieve him.

Turnbull ended up allowing seven runs on eight hits and three walks, with only three strikeouts. He threw 63 pitches, only 38 for strikes, and while his slider occasionally had some good movement on it, he did not have consistent command and left far too many pitches out over the plate for grateful Rays hitters.

A Long Road Back

A pitcher's first real outing after being out for 21 months because of Tommy John surgery is bound to generate nerves and probably some mental self-doubt. Turnbull has pitched well at the Major League level in the past, and I do not think today's start is cause for panic.

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But a fact is a fact: He did not pitch well today.

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