During the regular season, the Closer Hot Seat will be your go-to guide for Major League Baseball's bullpen chatter. During spring training, KFFL's Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Session will get you tuned up for the fantasy baseball saves chase. Camp happenings don't always impact closer battles, but if there's MLB news you should know for your fantasy baseball draft, you'll find it here.
Joakim Soria left his Sunday outing with right elbow soreness. The right-hander felt significant pain on his final two pitches, the first one a curveball. He'll be re-evaluated in the coming days.
An MRI performed Monday showed damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. Though the Kansas City Royals haven't yet announced the extent of it, it means he'll at least start the season late ... and, worst-case scenario, undergo Tommy John surgery again.
Before Sunday's game, he had allowed seven hits and four earned runs in three frames for the Royals while struggling to recapture his old performance and mechanics. In yesterday's contest, he surrendered three earned runs on three hits and a walk in one-third of an inning.
His balky elbow is ... whatever you call the anti-cherry on his rough spring:
"Oh, yeah, I'm worried," he admitted. "Since I've had my Tommy John surgery (in 2003), I've never had anything like that. I don't feel it's that bad because before the Tommy John surgery, all of my strength went away. This time, it hasn't. So I don't feel like it's that."
Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland sit in front on the fill-in line. Holland, whose skills will help even without save chances, finished last season as closer when Soria was unavailable, earning the setup man some in-house points.
Still, KC had the need for a direct Soria backup in mind when they signed Broxton following his injury-marred 2011. He didn't appear in a game after May 3 and had September surgery to extract a bone spur and other loose bodies from his right elbow. The Royals eased him into camp work and believe he's ready for normal duty.
His high-effort approach and high-poundage build sustain his risk, but even with his recent drop-off, his name carries some (ahem) weight in managerial decision-making. In his limited March work (3 K, 1 BB, 0 H in 2 IP), he has touched the mid-90s and kept the ball down as he did during his peak years with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
KC might install a saves share with these two (plus Aaron Crow and others?) in a Soria-less 'pen. Broxton and Holland are the only realistic speculations, though. Holland is safer if we're only talking about numbers, but that unfortunately doesn't cover the entire picture.
Luckily, most leagues won't be selecting teams yet, so we can see how the burly launcher's spring plays out and what Ned Yost's decision will be, if he needs to make one. Those who must act now in a draft or waiver wire process and can't secure both names should side with the more experienced Broxton.
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