Royals minor leaguer Bubba Starling is injured, again.
After spending the last two months recovering from and rehabbing an oblique strain, Starling dislocated his left index finger as he stumbled getting out of bed, a Royals official told The Star on Thursday. The finger was “completely bent backwards” and he underwent surgery to repair it.
Starling was home in Gardner, Kan., after completing a short rehab stint in Arizona last week. He was supposed to rejoin the Class-AAA Omaha Storm Chasers. But the injury to his nonthrowing hand forced the Royals’ top pick of the 2011 draft to delay his return about six weeks.
“He put in all that time to get ready with the oblique ... was in the right frame of mind and excited to get going again,” said Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo, who oversees player personnel. “It’s a shame. You feel bad for the kid. He’s gotta deal with a little bit more adversity.”
Starling played 11 games for Omaha from April 27-May 10 before landing on the disabled list four days later because of his fourth oblique injury since the middle of last season. He began a rehab assignment with the rookie-level Surprise Royals on July 4 and played four games, going 3 for 11 with three home runs and five RBIs in that span.
Starling, who turns 26 years old on Aug. 3, arrived at the Royals’ spring training facility in Arizona in February a dark-horse candidate for a spot in the Royals’ outfield. But in early March, Starling began to experience soreness in his left side. He was shut down and held back in Arizona for extended spring training.
When he was finally optioned to Omaha at the end of April, Starling hit .320 (8 for 25) with a pair of doubles and three walks. But he went 1 for 10 in his last four games before going on the disabled list in May.
Last season, Starling was poised to make a run at a chance for his major-league debut. He batted .290 (59 for 200) with a .762 on-base-plus-slugging percentage from May to July of 2017.
Then began a rash of oblique injuries. He hurt his right oblique making a catch in the outfield for the Storm Chasers and missed time from July 9 to Aug. 11. A few weeks after returning from the disabled list, he re-injured his side on another outfield catch and missed the rest of the season.
Starling should see game action by the end of August. By then, the Class-AAA Omaha Storm Chasers will be playing their final regular-season series of a schedule that concludes Sept. 3 in New Orleans.
“We’ll see how everything is coming along (next week),” Picollo said. “Right now, it is kind of indefinite.”