Paul Maurice has a very simple coaching philosphy when it comes to Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov: Do no harm.

OAKLAND, Calif. – Alek Manoah braced himself for the worst possible outcome in his right elbow after he walked off the mound at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 29, experiencing a pinching sensation in the joint unlike anything he’d ever felt before.

The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander hoped, of course, that the issue might be just muscular. Nagging pain followed his previous outing against the Detroit Tigers, too, and he was able to loosen his arm after some warm-up exercises between starts, supporting that notion. So too did a quick check from a Chicago White Sox team doctor, who noted that there was no clicking in Manoah’s elbow, something that usually accompanies ligament damage.

Still, no full diagnosis could be made without an MRI so one was set for the following day. This kicked off a wild week of veering between optimism and pessimism for the 26-year-old right-hander, culminating with season-ending surgery being scheduled for June 17.

He’ll undergo the hybrid Tommy John procedure performed by Dr. Keith Meister that replaces the ulnar collateral ligament and anchors the new one with an internal brace suture and will be out well into next year.

“It just sucks because I worked my ass off to get back here, not to prove to anybody else, but to prove to myself, to prove to my teammates I’m still this (expletive) badass pitcher. And five starts into that this should happen, it was kind of a pain in the butt,” Manoah says by his locker on a quiet morning in the Oakland Coliseum’s visitors clubhouse. “It’s a down time where this could either make or break me. I’m not going to let this break me. I’m going to continue to let it make me.

“For me, it’s not a thought that I’m going to come back and not be good. I’m going to be better just because I have this time to really analyze, deep dive into my body, and continue to work on my nutrition, the mental part of the game. And I’m going to be coming back with a rehab-routine-regimen strengthened arm that I’ve never had before. So I feel really (expletive) that I’m not going to be performing, but at the same time, mentally, I need to take advantage of this time to come back even better.”

Here’s a look at the swings Manoah went through before arriving at that outlook:

May 30 – The first MRI

Back in Toronto on Thursday morning after that fateful start, Manoah went to get an MRI done in the morning and then headed to the Rogers Centre to get his usual workout in. Once finished, he sat in the sauna for 30 minutes and when the tightness in his elbow didn’t ease, he couldn’t stretch out his arm, he hit the hot tub for an hour. When that didn’t help either, “That’s where I was really worried.”

“Leading up to my start, my elbow was bothering me a little bit, but it felt more muscular. Once I warmed up it would move fine,” Manoah explains. “I remember going home and telling my wife, ‘I don’t need the results of the MRI, I kind of already know what’s going to happen. She was like, ‘Be optimistic. Just wait.’”