The clock is ticking on Trevor Cahill.
Placed on the 10-day disabled list on Thursday because of rotator-cuff fatigue, Cahill has a matter of weeks to rest his right arm and return to a club in a competitive postseason race. He will be a free agent after the season.
Yet as he stood inside a visitors clubhouse here on Friday, Cahill said he remained optimistic that he could return this season after undergoing an MRI on Thursday.
Cahill did not offer a timetable for a possible recovery. He re-joined the Royals on Friday afternoon in Chicago and had yet to meet with the team’s training staff. He did confirm that his MRI revealed no structural damage. When asked what the scan showed, he offered a slight smile.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s science. I’m not a scientist.”
The Royals on Thursday officially labeled his injury as a right-shoulder impingement, a general term for weakness in the shoulder. One day later, Cahill said the symptoms were similar to the issues that forced him to the disabled list in the middle of May. The San Diego Padres called the injury a shoulder strain. He returned to the San Diego rotation in early July, nearly seven weeks later.
On Friday, Cahill indicated that he could be back sooner this time.
“Knowing right now, that I’ve done this before, I know what helps it and hurts it,” Cahill said. “It’s not like the first time. It should help me get back sooner.”
Cahill has allowed 10 earned runs in 11 innings across three starts for the Royals since being acquired from the Padres in a six-player trade on July 24. He has issued nine walks while striking out just six. He said Friday that he was pitching through the symptoms during his last few starts.
“I knew it was nothing structural, so I was just trying to get through it and deal with it,” Cahill said. “But obviously, it just wasn’t working out.”
Cahill will likely be replaced in the starting rotation by rookie Jakob Junis, who remains at Class AAA Omaha. The club has not confirmed that Junis will start on Monday in Oakland.
Junis, however, allowed just one run in eight innings in a victory over Seattle last Sunday at Kauffman Stadium. Reliever Kevin McCarthy was recalled on Thursday to offer bullpen depth. Junis could re-join the club before Monday’s series opener against the A’s.