The Kansas City Royals are not a team that is built to endure injury after injury. This hasn’t stopped the baseball gods from calling down their wrath on KC, as yesterday brought news of more damage to another key player. Following last week’s report of catcher Salvador Perez’s knee injury, the Royals announced yesterday that closer Joakim Soria’s ulnar collateral ligament is damaged, meaning that the right-hander could be headed for Tommy John surgery.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore told reporters yesterday that an MRI revealed the damage, and Soria is headed to Los Angeles to meet with Dr. Lewis Yocum to receive a second opinion. While the mention Dr. James Andrews’ name sends chills down the spines of pitchers everywhere, scheduling a sit down with Yocum doesn’t exactly instill hope in their hearts.
With a projected recovery time of nine to 12 months, Tommy John surgery would sideline Soria for at least the 2012 season. The recovery rate for the surgery has improved significantly over the years, but it would still mean the Royals would be without their closer for the entire season.
Whatever the case, it’s evident that Soria will not be starting the year with the Royals. While Soria has been one of the game’s better finishers over his five seasons with the Royals (career 2.40 ERA and 1.043 WHIP), KC does have a few viable replacements.
This offseason the Royals handed former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton $4 million to become a late-inning arm and insurance policy of sorts. The fire baller is still only 27 years old and does have 84 career saves under his (large) belt. Unfortunately for the Royals, some believe Broxton’s best years are behind him, as the right-hander has been erratic and hittable over his final two seasons with the Dodgers.
Beyond Broxton, the Royals could turn to right-hander Greg Holland. Though he lacks Broxton’s experience, Holland was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, posting an ERA and WHIP of 1.80 and 0.933 to go with 11.1 SO/9 and 2.9 BB/9 over his 60 innings pitched.
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