Washington Nationals reliever Will Harris finally has clarity as to what has bothered his right hand since spring training. The right-hander will undergo surgery Friday to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, manager Dave Martinez said, likely ending Harris’ season.
Harris’ year has been interrupted through injury, with numbness and swelling in his hand when he pitches. He departed spring training with what was initially believed to be a blood clot in his right arm, but a second opinion in St. Louis ruled out a blood clot and thoracic outlet syndrome.
The 36-year-old returned in May and pitched six innings, striking out nine, walking three and allowing six earned runs. But Harris landed back on the injured list last weekend with his right hand still causing issues, and Harris traveled to Dallas to meet with a specialist.
That’s when Harris learned he did have thoracic outlet syndrome, and after discussing options with his family and the team, he opted for surgery. Martinez said Harris would miss most or all of the season, but Harris has a sense of relief, finally with an answer to his hand ailment.
“After talking to him yesterday, he’s actually in pretty good spirits, because he finally knows something, and they think that this is really going to help him,” Martinez said. “With that being said, he just wants to have the procedure done and get ready as quickly as possible so he can come back and hopefully have no other issues.
“But dealing with what he was dealing with, it was frustrating, because he wanted to help us win and he was going out there and doing the best he can, just his hand would swell up on him,” Martinez continued. “That was no fun for him out there every game, with his hand swollen.”
Thoracic outlet syndrome is when blood vessels or nerves between the collarbone and the first rib are compressed, according to the Mayo Clinic. That can lead to pain in the shoulder and neck and numbness in the fingers.
The first time Harris went to see a specialist, they didn’t see evidence of thoracic outlet syndrome. It was evident in the latest visit, with Martinez describing it as “definitive.”
“He had an impingement, and he wasn’t getting any circulation when he was pitching, so it was definitely some clarity in what they saw,” Martinez said. “And like I said, he felt good about it. Now they know what it is. In Florida, they didn’t see anything. There was no blood clot, no impingement. And now there is, so he’s at a good place, even though he wishes he was pitching. At least he knows what it is, and they can go in and fix it.”