Former Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar has not pitched in a major-league game since July 21, 2016. He missed all of last season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
But he’s not retiring.
Hochevar is still planning to pitch again, his agent, Scott Boras, said Tuesday. Hochevar’s return, however, has been delayed by complications from the procedure.
The operation for thoracic outlet — which includes the removal of a portion of rib near the shoulder — is designed to alleviate the compression of nerves near the lower neck and armpit. The symptoms include the loss of feeling in the arm and fingers. For now, Hochevar is still dealing with those symptoms, including the loss of sensation in his arm, Boras said.
“We don’t know the timetable,” Boras said. “But the doctors say it should come back. We just don’t know when.”
Hochevar, 34, is part of a larger cohort of pitchers who have had the procedure in recent years, in part because of more awareness. Most rest and rehab for three to four months before starting a throwing program. Two of those pitchers — the Royals’ Nathan Karns and the Mets’ Matt Harvey, a Boras client — had the procedure during one season and returned the next.
“These nerves, it’s kind of a funny thing,” Boras said. “With Harvey, it came right back.”
Boras described Hochevar’s nerve issues as different, or “extended.” For now, the former No. 1 overall pick is waiting to return.
Hochevar recorded a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances for the Royals in 2016 before the injury. He logged a 3.73 ERA in a full season in 2015, recording a victory in the final game of the World Series just one year after having all of 2014 wiped away because of Tommy John surgery.
Hochevar, the first overall pick in 2006, pitched parts of nine seasons with the Royals, including a breakout performance in the bullpen in 2013. He has been a free agent since after the 2016 season.
“You go to the medical experts and say: ‘Hey, give me a timetable,’ ” Boras said. “And they’re going, ‘Hey, we think it’s going to come back. We just don’t know when.’ ”