After passing multiple concussion tests, Jeremy Hellickson has been officially cleared to start this afternoon against the Red Sox.
Hellickson was carted off the field Wednesday after being hit in the head by a fly ball during batting practice. Initial tests came back OK, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the young right-hander took two two more concussion tests yesterday, one at a Boston hospital in the morning and another on a computer in the clubhouse during the game.
“I passed finally,” Hellickson said. “I felt normal the last few days, I felt like I could go, I was just waiting for the okay. I’m not sure what they were seeing to even think about holding me back, but you understand what the process is and you have to wait it out.”
It’s not clear who had the final say in the process, but Hellickson also had to get approval from MLB before getting the go-ahead to start this afternoon.
Hellickson won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season after finishing 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA and 117/72 K/BB ratio over 189 innings. He struck out four over 8 2/3 scoreless innings in his season debut last Sunday against the division-rival Yankees.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.