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.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.