For the 2016 Royals, a team often measured by trips to the disabled list and All-Stars on the mend, few pieces of news can hit harder than this: On Tuesday afternoon, in the hours before a night game against the Blue Jays, the club placed closer Wade Davis on the disabled list with a right forearm strain.
Royals manager Ned Yost stressed that the injury was not overly serious. Davis said his concern was minimal. The strain, Yost said, was located on the top of the forearm, and not a flexor-pronator strain, the ailment commonly associated with ligament damage in the elbow. Yost said the injury was similar to one that forced starter Chris Young to the disabled list earlier this season.
“It’s not in the ligament,” Yost said. “It’s kind of like what C.Y. had.”
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Davis’ disabled list stint is retroactive to Friday. He will be eligible to return July 16 in Detroit, the club’s second game after the All-Star break. Yost said the team was hopeful Davis would miss just two weeks.
Davis, who was selected to the American League All-Star team on Tuesday, said he would skip the festivities and focus on getting healthy during the break.
“I think it’s going to be fine,” Davis said. “It’s a muscle that just kind of grabbed up and tightened over a couple of days. I think it didn’t go away as fast as we'd have hoped. But I think we’re in a good spot here, especially with the break.”
In the meantime, the Royals summoned right-hander Brooks Pounders from Class AAA Omaha to fill the vacant spot in the bullpen. He made his big-league debut Tuesday, allowing a run in two innings. To make room on the 40-man roster, the club designated left-hander Tyler Olson for assignment.
Yost said Davis’s strain would not require an MRI. With the All-Star break coming up, the club preferred to shut him down now. If he can return by July 16, he would only miss eight games. Davis said he battled through a similar strain in his right biceps last September.
“It’s something he had to deal with throughout the rest of the postseason,” Yost said. “So we’re trying to see if we can avoid that this time.”
Yost was noncommittal on the status of the Royals’ closer role in Davis’s absence. He suggested that setup man Kelvin Herrera could get an opportunity to close. Yost also left the door open for Joakim Soria to fill in.
“Everyone will move up a notch,” Yost said. “We’ll mix and match. We’ll go day to day on it and depending on who is available.”
Davis becomes the latest All-Star to land on the disabled list in 2016. The ledger looks like this: Third baseman Mike Moustakas is out for the season because of a torn right ACL; left fielder Alex Gordon missed close to a month with a broken bone in his right hand; and center fielder Lorenzo Cain will be on the disabled list until after the All-Star break after suffering a left hamstring strain.
The list does not include All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, who missed a week after suffering a quad contusion. It also does not include right-handers Young and Kris Medlen, who have missed time because of arm injuries, or outfielder Brett Eibner, who spent time on the 15-day disabled list after spraining his ankle.
If the 2015 Royals were somewhat fortunate in the injury department — save for a groin injury to Gordon and season-ending arm injuries to Greg Holland and Jason Vargas — the 2016 edition has been an exercise in attrition.
Even after this setback, Davis has also proved relatively durable during his four seasons in Kansas City. He has also been dominant. Since transitioning to the bullpen in 2014, Davis has posted a 1.01 ERA in 168 2/3 innings, asserting himself as one of the preeminent relievers in the game. He recorded a 0.94 ERA in 67 1/3 innings in 2015, backing up a breakout season in 2014. He took over the Royals’ closer spot last September after Holland was shut down with a season-ending elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
On Tuesday, Davis became the latest name on the disabled list. A forearm strain can often be a precursor to more serious issues involving the ulnar collateral ligament, the elbow ligament associated with Tommy John surgery. But in the hours after announcing the injury, the Royals attempted to squash those concerns
The strain, Davis said, is not near the elbow.
“It’s not there,” he said.