Luke Hochevar eyes May return to the Royals’ bullpen

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Kansas City didn’t end up missing Luke Hochevar much last season because the bullpen was ridiculously good without him, but now he’s close to being healthy again after Tommy John surgery and perhaps the Royals could use another late-inning option.

After being a bust as a starter Hochevar shifted to the bullpen full time in 2013 and threw 70 innings with a 1.92 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio. He looked pretty good in a handful of spring training outings and Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the former No. 1 overall pick is building up arm strength at Triple-A in the hopes of being ready at some point in May.

Hochevar told McCullough that to throw “back-to-back days and be able to repeat my stuff” are the two biggest remaining keys to his recovery.

Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”