Cincinnati Reds reliever Lucas Sims to miss remainder of 2022 season due to back injury

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There was no hiding the frustration in Lucas Sims’ voice as he stood in front of his locker.

He did everything he could to try to pitch through back pain, but it eventually became too much. He has a herniated disc in his back, which is pressed against a nerve, and he’s scheduled to undergo surgery next week in Los Angeles.

His season is over.

“It’s probably been there for a little bit,” Sims said. “Pitching irritated it. It just got unbearable. It’s hitting the nerve and I can’t feel my foot. That’s not good, so surgery next week.”

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Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Lucas Sims (39) reacts to a pitch in the sixth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. The Brewers came back for a 5-4 win.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Lucas Sims (39) reacts to a pitch in the sixth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. The Brewers came back for a 5-4 win.

When surgery was recommended, Sims told the medical staff he needed to give himself one more chance. He wasn’t giving up on the season without a fight. Before he played catch Thursday, he couldn’t feel his foot as he tied the laces on his spikes.

Sims played catch up to 60 feet, but he couldn’t put any zip on his throws without a tremendous amount of pain.

“I felt awful,” he said.

Back pain slowed Sims all year. He missed the first couple weeks of the season after the Reds eased him into spring training following back spasms. Then he returned to the injured list on May 12 with a bulging disc in his lower back.

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There were points in Sims’ rehab when he progressed to throwing, but he estimated his back flared up three times before it was determined he needed surgery.

“It got worse,” Sims said. “It went from spasms to pain around the spine and graduated into nerve pain, loss of motor skills, no strength in my foot. I can’t feel my foot; I can feel it, but it’s not good. Like when your leg falls asleep and it starts coming back, that’s kind of what it feels like.”

It was an inconsistent season for the 28-year-old Sims, who the Reds used in the backend of their bullpen. He made six relief appearances, permitting seven runs on five hits and six walks in 6 2/3 innings (9.45 ERA) while striking out five. Five of the seven runs he gave up came from one relief outing.

He inherited four runners this year and only one scored. He earned a save in his second outing of the season, pitching a scoreless ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals after making his season debut in the previous game, and he earned a winning decision on May 7.

Losing Sims for the remainder of the season is a big hit to the Reds’ bullpen, which posted a 7.17 ERA in June with five blown saves. The Reds already lost relievers Tejay Antone and Justin Wilson for the season because of Tommy John surgeries. Alexis Díaz, Tony Santillan and Vladimir Gutierrez remain on the injured list.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Lucas Sims (39) hugs catcher Mark Kolozsvary (47) as the celebrate a win after the ninth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, April 24, 2022. The Reds broke an 11-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Cardinals.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Lucas Sims (39) hugs catcher Mark Kolozsvary (47) as the celebrate a win after the ninth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, April 24, 2022. The Reds broke an 11-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Cardinals.

With surgery next week, Sims should have a normal offseason. He won’t become a free agent until after the 2024 season, eligible for his second year of salary arbitration next winter.

“It’s one of the sooner, the better things,” Sims said. “Do it now. Finish the rehab. Then I should be good to go for the offseason. It should be fine. It’s like six weeks down, come back and do the buildup and all that stuff. All things considered it could be a lot worse. I think it’s considered minor, but that’s it for the season and back surgery. It is what it is. Hammer out rehab and come back next year.”

Season-ending injuries are tough for all players, but Sims was admittedly restless when he had a delayed start to his regular season.

“It is what it is,” Sims said. “We’ll get this thing fixed and put it behind us.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Reds reliever Lucas Sims out for rest of 2022 season with back injury