Royals pitcher Kyle Zimmer will make his Cactus League debut this week.
Zimmer hasn’t appeared in a game since throwing 1/3 of an inning in relief during a mid-August contest at Class AAA Omaha. Ongoing shoulder troubles limited Zimmer to 36 2/3 innings over 21 games last season.
He has been brought along slowly this spring. He’ll finally see action in Friday’s split-squad game against the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz.
“For me, early in camp, he was not so impressive,” manager Ned Yost said on Wednesday. “But here lately he’s been throwing the ball really well. Turning it loose and looks good and has life.”
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The news is encouraging for Zimmer, the Royals’ 2012 first-round draft pick who has never pitched more than 108 1/3 innings in a season.
Since undergoing minor surgery to relieve tightness in his right shoulder years ago, Zimmer couldn’t even put on a T-shirt without worrying about lifting his arm.
The fabric would catch on sutures that were left over from a 2014 procedure if he didn’t angle the shirt just so. He figured if they did no harm to his ability to pitch, learning to live with them wouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
But after three and a half years, during which he only logged 106 1/3 innings because of injuries and had surgery in 2016 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, Zimmer grew sick of the sutures. He had them removed this offseason.
Through two live batting practice sessions, he feels better than he has in a long time.
“The sutures were acting like thorns in there. They were just sort of sticking up, like a bunch of tissue in the front of my shoulder,” Zimmer said after his workout on Saturday at the Royals’ complex in Surprise. “It would just be catching and grabbing, catching and grabbing. … It’s a lot freer.”
Zimmer is likely to start the season back in Omaha.