Even if the owners and players union resolve their differences and baseball returns to the field in 2020, it appears clear now that Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez will not be among the available arms in manager Joe Girardi’s bullpen.

A source confirmed yesterday that the 25-year-old reliever has returned to the United States from his native Dominican Republic and will have his ailing right elbow examined at a time and place still to be determined. The Athletic first reported the story. The source said that Dominguez is likely to have ligament transplant surgery, a.k.a. Tommy John surgery, to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

After a terrific rookie season in 2018, Dominguez struggled much of last season before being shut down after a June 5 outing against the Padres in San Diego. Dr. James Andrews recommended against surgery after examining Dominguez last season, and the Phillies and the right-hander held out hope until the very end of the season that he’d be able to return.

That never happened, but the Phillies believed platelet-rich plasma injections and a long rehab had prepared Dominguez to return to the mound in spring training. Optimism grew after he threw a perfect inning in a March 5 outing against Toronto. He threw another perfect inning against the Blue Jays three days later, but on his final pitch he felt “tightness” in his elbow that still had not subsided the following day.

“I’m really worried,” the pitcher said at the time. “Because it’s my career. It’s my life.”

Dominguez went for an MRI examination on March 12, the day spring training was shut down, but soon after he returned to his native Dominican Republic, leaving his surgery status in limbo until now. If, as expected, he has surgery, it is clear he will not return for the in-jeopardy 2020 season. It’s possible he will also miss all of the 2021 season.

That’s awful news for the Phillies, who felt Dominguez would be a dependable late-inning reliever for years to come.