Lynch staying positive despite injury setback

Royals left-hander says he'll be ready to roll in 2023 after resting strained shoulder

March 24th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The news received on Friday morning was echoed by a massive sigh of relief from the Royals' lefty. He won’t miss as much time as he originally thought when he was walking off the mound less than 24 hours earlier at Peoria Stadium.

Lynch sustained a left shoulder strain during Thursday’s game against the Padres, feeling discomfort while throwing a couple of pitches before waving manager Matt Quatraro and a trainer out to the mound. When he threw his slider, Lynch felt a pull in his shoulder, and the changeup to David Dahl was the moment he knew this wasn’t something to pitch through.

“It felt like my arm was stretching out of the socket, going with the ball,” Lynch said prior to the Royals’ 3-0 win over the Giants at Surprise Stadium. “To feel all that, I was like, I can’t go any further. It was just kind of a shocking thing. I was so excited for the season.

“I felt like my stuff was in a good place. I felt like I was in a good spot, very confident, very excited. I was bummed out. Had really high hopes. So that goes through your mind. But I’m glad I can get back soon and help the team for the majority of the season.”

The worry on Lynch’s face detailed the concern he felt, but Quatraro waited before jumping to conclusions until testing showed what they were dealing with.

Lynch will be shut down for seven to 10 days and then begin throwing again. So, while he’ll begin 2023 on the injured list, the expectation is that he will only miss around a month of the season.

“He had a big sigh of relief that it’s a mild strain and a minimum amount of time shut down,” Quatraro said. “He looked a lot more relieved than he did yesterday leaving the game.”

Lynch, 26, was on his way to earning an Opening Day rotation spot. In his third season in the Majors, Lynch is looking to take that next step as a starter, similar to what Brady Singer did in 2022. That goal remains the same now -- just delayed because of the injury.

“I’m taking the positive outlook on it,” Lynch said. “I think this will be quick, and we’ll be ready to roll. That’s how I’m thinking about it. And I want to keep the momentum going. We had a meeting today with the plans for the season, scouting reports for [the series opener against] the Twins, and I was bummed out. I was pumped to get out there. But I think it’s a good reminder that this is not something to take for granted.”

Kansas City’s starting depth takes a hit without Lynch, but the Royals also breathed a sigh of relief when learning it won’t be a long-term problem.

Quatraro was not ready to name all five starters on Friday after announcing that Zack Greinke will start Opening Day against the Twins at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday. Behind Greinke, the Royals likely have Jordan Lyles, Singer and Brad Keller, who threw five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts against the Giants in his final tune-up.

“I felt really good,” Keller said. “Felt like I finally had both the sweeper and curveball today. I got so many swing-and-misses with the curveball, to righties and lefties. I was really happy with that. Sinker was working really well, and we rolled with that.”

Kris Bubic would be the next logical choice to slide in for Lynch. Bubic was delayed at the start of this spring because of shoulder soreness, but the lefty could be built up to five innings by the regular season. And the Royals could have Ryan Yarbrough and Carlos Hernández to help cover innings, given that Singer might not be completely built up next week, either.

Pitching plans

The Royals will depart for Arlington on Saturday after their spring contest against the Dodgers, and while they’re bringing extra players to help cover innings over two exhibition games in Texas, those traveling does give a clue about the Opening Day roster.

Amir Garrett, Scott Barlow and Dylan Coleman are all scheduled to follow Bubic’s start against the Rangers on Monday (Watch free on MLB.TV at 7:05 p.m. CT). And Josh Staumont, Josh Taylor and Taylor Clarke are scheduled to follow Singer on Tuesday (Listen free at 1:05 p.m. CT) at Globe Life Field.

However, there are a few pitchers staying back to get in one more Arizona appearance. Yarbrough and Hernández are scheduled to pitch against the Cubs in Mesa, while the lineup will be prospect-heavy.

Lyles is scheduled to throw five or six innings in a Minor League game on Sunday.