Bad news for Royals fans. And for Luke Hochevar, of course:
Hochevar, the 30-year-old former No. 1 overall pick, felt a twinge in his elbow on Monday. On Tuesday, he felt soreness in the joint, and an MRI revealed his condition, which also includes strained muscles around the elbow. On Thursday, he was scheduled to meet with Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers’ team physician, in Los Angeles.
That meeting happened and Ned Yost announced this morning that Hochevar will have Tommy John surgery. Given that Hochevar is eligible for free agency this fall, it’s quite possible he’s pitched for the Royals for the last time.
Hochevar was a disappointment as a starter for years, but last season he moved to the pen and tossed 70 innings with a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio. If he had repeated that this year he had a big payday in his future.
As it is, someone will likely take a chance on him, as he will likely pitch most of 2015. And given that, as we’ve reflected upon so much for the past 24 hours, a torn ligament is no longer a death sentence for a pitcher.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.