TODAY: Though he’ll head in for a second opinion, skipper Ned Yost said that surgery is likely, Dodd tweets.
YESTERDAY: The Royals have placed reliever Luke Hochevar on the 15-day DL, per a team announcement. The team says that he is showing symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, including numbness in his fingers, as Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). Righty Brooks Pounders has been recalled to take Hochevar’s place on the active roster.
[Related: Updated Royals Depth Chart]
That’s highly unfortunate news for the 32-year-old, who has come back already from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of 2014. And it’s a blow for a Kansas City organization that could have used Hochevar down the stretch — or turned him into a decent prospect return in a trade.
Though he is only working to a 3.86 ERA on the year, Hochevar has punched out 9.6 and walked only 2.2 batters per nine. He’s still bringing a mid-90s fastball and generating a strong 13.4% swinging strike rate. While he doesn’t generate grounders like he used to and has been a bit homer-prone (1.45 per nine), Hochevar looked like a nice trade chip for K.C.
While it’s not yet known whether the Royals will sell, or where exactly they’d draw the line, Hochevar would have rated as a prime asset to move because of his contract. He’s earning a reasonable $5.5MM this year and seemed likely to turn down his side of a $7MM mutual option (which comes with a $500K buyout).
Now, it not only seems unlikely that Hochevar will be traded, but his entire career path is uncertain. There are a range of outcomes for a player who is diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome — which, it must be stressed, hasn’t yet been determined — but it’s unquestionably a significant malady with which to contend.