Luke Hochevar To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

FRIDAY: Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, that Hochevar will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the season (Twitter link).

General manager Dayton Moore also spoke to reporters and said the Royals hope to retain Hochevar beyond 2014 (per 610 Sports Radio's Josh Vernier on Twitter): "We wouldn't rule Luke out for the future… We'll hopefully be able to keep him in the organization going forward."

Vernier also quotes Hochevar, who is understandably distressed: "I feel terrible… The toughest part about it is we're primed to win… You want to be a part of that dog pile in September."

WEDNESDAY: The Royals got bad news today when they learned that they will be without right-hander Luke Hochevar until at least late May or early June due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, manager Ned Yost tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Hochevar also has a strain in the musculature surrounding the ligament. He will be shut down entirely for two to three weeks (All links to Twitter).

Yost described a May/June return as a "best-case scenario," indicating that even after being shut down, Hochevar will face at least two months of rehab. As is the case with most UCL injuries, the scare of Tommy John surgery is present.

After struggling for years as a starter, Hochevar enjoyed a dominant season out of the bullpen in 2013. The former No. 1 overall pick pitched to a 1.92 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 35 percent ground-ball rate in 70 1/3 innings of work. The move to the 'pen caused his fastball velocity to jump three miles per hour to 95.5 mph. Hochevar also scrapped his slider and focused primarily on using his fastball and cutter with an occasional sinker and curve mixed in, per Fangraphs' PITCHf/x data.

The timing for the injury could hardly be worse for Hochevar, who agreed to a one-year, $5.21MM contract in his final season of team control before free agency next offseason. Another dominant year in the bullpen could've positioned him for a similar salary over multiple seasons, though as Bob Dutton reported back in December, Yost had mentioned giving Hochevar and Wade Davis one more crack at the rotation (indeed, Hochevar's contract contains $400K of incentives based on games started and games finished).

As McCullough notes, if he's able to return, Hochevar will do so as a reliever. However, even if rest and rehab proves to be successful, teams could be still wary of Hochevar's elbow, driving down his potential earnings. And, because he has just one excellent season under his belt, the injury prevents him from another 20 to 30 innings of proving that he can sustain that performance.

With Hochevar's status now up in the air, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and perhaps Davis could see their chances at a rotation spot improve. Top prospect Kyle Zimmer could enter the mix early in the year as well, though his 2013 season was cut short by a shoulder injury, and the Royals are being cautious with him thus far.

33 Responses to Luke Hochevar To Undergo Tommy John Surgery Leave a Reply

  1. kidkongs 1 year ago

    This will probably be a bigger blow than most realize. Hurry back Hoch, we need your gunslinger arm in the pen!

  2. pastlives 1 year ago

    That’s too bad…total aside though, how did it take 5 years of awful pitching for these guys to realize, hey maybe we should try him in the bullpen?

    • IdontknowwhyIpostonforums 1 year ago

      I think it has to do with him being a former #1 overall pick. You don’t just give up on the guy after a couple bad seasons.

    • jimfetterolf 1 year ago

      Depth. Hoch was among the best of a bunch of bad choices. Now the Royals have too many good choices, so will survive this fairly easily.

  3. truroyal15
    Chad Woelk 1 year ago

    Luckily the Royals pen is stacked with talent but I really feel for Hoch after the year he put together last season.

  4. amoreperfectunion 1 year ago

    Could be interesting to see how the young’ns do – I am excited for the Royals pitching prospects in the coming years. I haven’t had a chance to see them pitch but will definitely watch some games if they end up getting some starts.

  5. Lefty_Orioles_Fan
    Lefty_Orioles_Fan 1 year ago

    The timing for the injury could hardly be worse for Hochevar, who agreed to a one-year, $5.21mm.
    Well the timing couldn’t be worse for the Royals as well, they have to pay Hochevar and now he’s sidelined, plus he was good in the bullpen.
    I wish Ervin Santana would back to KC, I have no idea what the problem is
    I mean the Royals have a good chance imho to get to the playoffs this year and Ervin is waiting for the ‘Great’ Pumpkin!

    • jimfetterolf 1 year ago

      Problem for the Royals is the same for other teams, they don’t think he’s worth 4/50 and worry about his elbow.

  6. Sufferfortribe 1 year ago

    Sorry to see this happen. Even though I’m a Tribe fan, I still root for good games between the two of us. This guy seemed solid out of your pen. Hope he heals up soon.

  7. Jimmy Sherman 1 year ago

    I ask this in all seriousness, because I honestly don’t know the answer, but has anyone ever heard of anyone ever rehabbing a UCL/Tommy John injury WITHOUT surgery? I’m sure it probably happens fairly often, but every time I seem to notice it, it’s “He’s being shut down for a few months to rest” followed a few weeks later by “He’s undergoing Tommy John surgery.”

    • jimfetterolf 1 year ago

      Hoch had a previous incident a few years ago.

    • First Bleed 1 year ago

      Roy Halladay comes to mind. But it seems rare.

    • buffalonichols 1 year ago

      Albert Pujols? At least so far, that is.

    • dc21892 1 year ago

      If it isn’t a bad tear, they can focus heavily on strengthening the muscles around the ligament, such as what Roy Halladay did. You have to be mentally strong to so something like that too. Most pitchers just feel it’s easier to undergo TJ. That’s my opinion at least.

    • James F 1 year ago

      Well, I used to pitch in high school and I hurt my arm throwing a slider right before I started College. I tried throwing a few weeks later but I would have pain after each throw so I rested almost 4 months. I couldn’t throw back to back days without soreness which was unusual for me before the injury. Here I am 3 years later with what seems to be an almost 100% arm. I sometimes feel a difference in my left elbow compared to my right every now and then that reminds me of the ucl pain I had in the past (mainly when exercising but not often) but I haven’t had any of that pain while throwing this year. The past 2 years, it seems that I was more prone to injury but overall, I was able to throw without pain unless I overwork myself or warm up improperly. Right now, I haven’t had any problems though.

      Obviously I’m not a major league pitcher but this is my experience. I’m sometimes surprised to see players give up so easily and go with surgery. 2 weeks is way too short of a timespan unless the pain is just from your arm not used to throwing yet.

  8. Comfy_Wastelander 1 year ago

    I remember another Luke who had his right arm CUT OFF and he was still able to defeat a galactic empire! Almost made out with his sister too.

    Get well soon, Hoch!

    (And steer clear of your sister.)

  9. daveineg 1 year ago

    Now that Will Smith for Aoki deal looking not quite so good.

    • Comfy_Wastelander 1 year ago


      • daveineg 1 year ago

        The bullpen depth took a pretty good hit. Had they kept Smith, it would have had less impact.

        • Comfy_Wastelander 1 year ago

          The Royals need Aoki’s OBP at the top of the lineup a lot more than another bullpen arm.

  10. Brian Baker 1 year ago

    Just go ahead and get Tommy John so you’ll be ready for 2015. Matt Harvey waited around and eventually had to get it. Same for Jonny Venters. Just get it over with for a quicker turnaround.

  11. RaysfaninMN 1 year ago

    I know last year they had on of the best BPs. I do not follow the Royals enough to know how their depth in the BP is. After losing Smith and now Hoch, are Royals fans concerned?

    • oct27 1 year ago

      Not really. Even with the injury the Royals will be sending a legit arm or two to Omaha. A lot of depth there still.

      • iancahill 1 year ago

        Add Duffy to that list

        • oct27 1 year ago

          Eh – I don’t think they’ll use Duffy in the pen. I think they prefer to keep him starting in Omaha. But yeah – he’s a possibility if needed. Possible he could benefit from it and learn how to use his pitches more efficiently by some time in the pen.

    • tswensen 1 year ago

      No worries here. Hochevar has NEVER lived up to the hype his jackass agent Boras has been able to sell to the Royals. Millions of dollars down the drain on this guy.

  12. Curt Green 1 year ago

    I didn’t realize he had such a good year last year. I hope it will not set the team back to much. Even though I am a Twins fan and KC owned us last year, I would still like to see them challenge the Tigers for the division crown.

  13. Red_Line_9 1 year ago

    Might explain why the Royals were unable to trade him when it was rumored and seemed logical. There were several teams believed to be wanting Hochevar for the 9th inning roll. Perhaps the elbow was a question

  14. burtonlive 1 year ago

    Wade Davis better not get that last rotation spot just so Dayton can feel better about the Shields/Myers trade….

    • oct27 1 year ago

      Davis is actually less likely to get that last spot now with Hochevar out.
      At any rate – unless he gets hurt – it’s Ventura.

  15. EightMileCats 1 year ago

    That’s too bad… still probably a bust as a number 1 overall pick turning into a reliever, but he looked like he had the stuff to be a dominate late inning reliever.

  16. EightMileCats 1 year ago

    That’s too bad… still probably a bust as a number 1 overall pick turning into a reliever, but he looked like he had the stuff to be a dominate late inning reliever.

  17. LazerTown 1 year ago

    Makes tons of sense for him. He is getting paid for this season, sooner he gets it over with the sooner he signs a rebound contract.

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