Joakim Soria got second and third opinions after being diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and they all agreed, so the 27-year-old Royals closer will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery on April 3.
Typically recovery timetables are 12-18 months, so Soria will miss the entire season and could be limited in early 2013 as well.
Soria is owed $6 million this season and the Royals have an $8 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2013 and an $8.75 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2014. Much like Adam Wainwright with the Cardinals last year, the Royals may have to make a decision on Soria’s future before having a clear sense of his recovery.
Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland are the options to replace Soria as closer, but manager Ned Yost hasn’t made a decision yet. Or at least hasn’t announced his decision publicly yet. And with one of those two moving from a setup role to ninth-inning duties the Royals have canceled plans to shift Aaron Crow from the bullpen to the rotation.
Soria had a helluva run for the Royals, going from unknown to stud closer in 2007 and saving 160 games with a 2.40 ERA and 341 strikeouts in 315 innings over five seasons. During that time the only pitcher with more saves and a lower ERA than Soria was Mariano Rivera.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.