Sitting inside the Royals’ dugout on Saturday afternoon, Royals general manager Dayton Moore pulled his phone from his pocket and checked the progress of another reclamation project that could help his club this summer. Left-hander Mike Minor threw three innings in an extended spring training appearance earlier on Friday, and with the touch of his fingers, Moore accessed the necessary information.
“He’s progressing well,” Moore said.
Minor, a 28-year-old former Atlanta Brave, remains at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz., continuing his recovery from a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He has been throwing since spring training, building up his arm strength and his velocity. His fastball has been clocked in the mid 90s, and his regimen has continued with regular appearances in extended spring training games this month. He remains on schedule, Moore says, even if the timetable is a little vague.
“We haven’t made a decision, at this point in time, when he will depart Arizona,” Moore said. “But if everything continues to progress well, it’ll happen probably in the next few weeks or so.”
The Royals signed Minor, a former first-round pick, to a two-year, $7.25 million deal on Feb. 19. The contract was similar to the one given to right-hander Kris Medlen before the 2015 season, and Minor’s trajectory to Kansas City could be similar as well. A year ago, Medlen began the season on the disabled list, recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. He joined the Royals in the second half, logging time as a starter and a reliever before spending the postseason in the bullpen. A year later, he became a full-time member of the starting rotation, making third start of the season on Saturday night.
The Royals believe Minor could contribute as a starter or a reliever this season. But his future role may be dictated by need. Minor has spent most of his career as a starter, yet his health history could prompt the Royals to take it slow this season.
Once Minor leaves extended spring training, he can remain on a rehab stint for 30 days. For now, he is still trying to graduate to the next phase.
“We’re going to be conservative with him,” Moore said.
Minor posted a 4.10 ERA in 111 games for the Braves from 2010 to 2014. He recorded a 3.21 ERA in 32 starts in 2013, but his shoulder began to betray him over the next two seasons. His ERA ballooned to 4.77 in 25 starts in 2014. A year later, he missed the entire 2015 season, undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum last May.