By Eric Schmidt

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann was believed to be in the running for the fifth and final spot in the team’s starting rotation this spring. Niemann eventually lost out on his bid, joining the bullpen. Throughout the spring, the lanky right hander struggled with velocity issues and a sore shoulder. On Monday it was revealed that Niemann will have to undergo shoulder surgery, likely ending his season.

Niemann was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday. After a medical examination yesterday, it was revealed that Niemann has labrum and rotator cuff abnormalities. Niemann visited with Texas Rangers team doctor Keith Meister on Monday for a second opinion.

This will be the second consecutive season that has been cut short of Niemann. Last year he suffered a fractured right fibula after being struck in the leg by a line drive. When Niemann did return last year, he was able to pitch just 3 1/3 innings and had to leave due to soreness in his shoulder.

Niemann, 30, is eligible for arbitration this offseason. Surgery is slated for Wednesday.

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