Ned Yost noticed the nervousness coursing through rookie Brandon Finnegan on Tuesday evening. If Yost couldn’t notice Finnegan’s jittery body language, he could also point to his pitching. In his first outing of the season, Finnegan, the teams’ first-round pick in 2014, served up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced.
“I was definitely nervous for the first time in a while,” Finnegan said after his team came back to defeat the Indians, anyway. The result netted Finnegan the first regular-season victory of his career, a milestone he preferred to reach in more flattering fashion.
Finnegan, 22, is the youngest player on the Royals roster. His presence in the bullpen looks like a temporary fix, with both Greg Holland (strained pectoral muscle) and Luke Hochevar (Tommy John surgery) both getting closer to rejoining the club.
But the Royals still envision Finnegan as a contributor in the second half of the season. He will likely return to Class AA Northwest Arkansas to pitch as a starter soon. He missed out on an opening in the bullpen after exhibiting lackluster command during spring training.
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Finnegan rarely showed nerves during his call-up in 2014. Yost speculated that the exposure to the big leagues affected Finnegan’s perspective.
“This was a guy who just walked into it blindly last year,” Yost said. “He had no expectations. And then went through a tremendous summer. getting drafted No. 1, pitching in the College World Series.
“And then getting elevated to the major-league level and pitching in the playoffs and having success in the playoffs and the World Series.
“Now, you know what’s at stake. Before, it was just like walking into blindly. And now you know. It gives you more time to think about it, and get a little bit more nervous about it.”