Fresh off signing a new two-year, $10 million contract with the Royals this week, Luke Hochevar told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that he hopes to begin throwing off a mound in January.
Hochevar missed the entire 2014 season following Tommy John surgery. The 31-year-old is currently limited to playing catch, but hasn’t had any setbacks in his rehab. He still has some important hurdles to cross, but the expectation is that he will be ready for Opening Day. Hochevar actually pitched with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament from 2010 until this past March, so he already feels a world of difference.
“I keep telling them over and over again, ‘I feel better now then before I had surgery,’” Hochevar said. “That’s a good sign. Hopefully it just continues this way.”
A first-round pick of the Royals in 2006, Hochevar was a bust as a starting pitcher, but he dominated with a shift to the bullpen in 2013 by posting a 1.92 ERA (215 ERA+) with an 82/17 K/BB ratio over 70 1/3 innings. It’s a scary thought to add him back into the mix in 2015, though the Royals could cash in on their reliever surplus and deal Greg Holland or Wade Davis.