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Rafael Montero has torn UCL, likely needs Tommy John surgery

Rafael Montero works against the Nationals in a

Rafael Montero works against the Nationals in a spring training game on Saturday in West Palm Beach, Florida, but he will be on the shelf for a year-plus because of a torn UCL. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Rafael Montero’s bad spring training got a lot worse on Thursday.

The Mets announced that the righthander has a “complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament” in his right elbow and “will likely need Tommy John surgery.”

Montero, 27, had pitched poorly in the exhibition season, with a 9.00 ERA in seven outings. Because he was out of minor-league options, Montero was in danger of being placed on waivers if he didn’t make the team. Now, if he has the surgery, he will miss more than a season.

Manager Mickey Callaway said Montero first reported feeling the injury after pitching Tuesday against the Cardinals.

“It was really the first time he said something,” Callaway said. “I’m sure if he was feeling symptoms before that, it was affecting what he can do. That’s one of the unfortunate things about being in the position that he was in, is sometimes you don’t say things because you’re trying to make a team. Pitchers pitch through things a lot, but identifying what you can pitch through and what you can’t is important. It’s just a bad situation . . . It’s not great for the kid. I feel bad for him.”

Montero once was one of the Mets’ brightest prospects, but he is 6-16 with a 5.38 ERA in parts of the last four seasons.

“At times, I think he showed really good stuff,” Callaway said. “At times, I thought he lacked some conviction. I know we probably talked about that a little bit. But he’s got some pitchability. He’s got value to an organization, and it’s a shame he’s going to be out for a year-plus.”

Asked about how Montero’s injury affects the Mets’ roster decisions before next Thursday’s season opener, Callaway said: “I don’t think it affects it a ton.”

The Mets are likely to go with an eight-man bullpen, with rookie Jacob Rhame joining Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Anthony Swarzak, Paul Sewald, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Lugo also could be in the rotation.

With David Lennon

New York Sports