Royals closer Joakim Soria has damaged elbow ligament

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Joakim Soria’s fears were justified, as an MRI exam on his injured elbow revealed ulnar collateral ligament damage.

No word yet on the extent of the damage, but torn UCLs are what lead to Tommy John surgeries and 12-month recoveries.

Soria has actually already had Tommy John surgery, way back in 2003 when he was a teenager in rookie-ball. His big-league debut came four years later and since then he’s been one of the truly elite relievers in all of baseball, throwing 315 innings with a 2.40 ERA and fantastic 341/87 K/BB ratio.

And now just days after losing 22-year-old catcher Salvador Perez for 3-4 months following knee surgery the Royals may be without their best pitcher and potential top trade asset. Soria makes $6 million this season and the Royals have $8 million and $8.75 million team options for 2013 and 2014.

Jonathan Broxton would be the obvious choice to fill in for Soria as closer, assuming of course that he’s healthy after missing most of last season with elbow problems of his own.