HOUSTON -- D-backs right-hander Rubby De La Rosa will need a second Tommy John surgery, manager Torey Lovullo said Thursday.
De La Rosa suffered elbow issues last season and tried to avoid surgery by undergoing stem cell treatment, rest and rehab. After non-tendering him last December, the D-backs signed De La Rosa to a Minor League deal, and this spring, his rehab appeared to be on track.
With an eye on keeping him healthy, the D-backs switched him from a starter to a reliever, and the 28-year-old made his first appearance May 1 in the Minors. After pitching well for Triple-A Reno, he had two stints with the D-backs, appearing in nine games and going 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA.
De La Rosa was optioned back to Reno on Aug. 4, and after three appearances there, he experienced more elbow issues.
"There was some discomfort that he felt, and he felt like it was time to take it to the next level and have him looked at," Lovullo said. "It's a big setback for him right now."
De La Rosa looked like his old self at times with the D-backs this year, flashing his overpowering fastball and plus slider.
"There were a couple of small snapshots that he gave us; it was pretty spectacular," Lovullo said. "When he first was recalled and joined us, there were some really good moments. That's what we've got to remember when we think how good he can be when he's healthy."
De La Rosa's first Tommy John surgery was Aug. 9, 2011. His second has yet to be scheduled, but it will in all likelihood keep him out for the entire 2018 season.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.