Medlen at ease in normal spring routine

'I think I'm over the symbolic, comeback story stuff'

March 6th, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Kris Medlen will get his first start of the spring for the Royals on Monday in Mesa against the Cubs.

And Medlen doesn't have to be reminded of his last Spring Training start.

"How can I forget my last one?" he said.

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That would have been in 2014 with the Braves, when in his third spring start on March 9, Medlen felt a twinge in his right elbow. Having already had Tommy John surgery in 2010, the last thing he thought was the possibility of more issues with the ulnar collateral ligament.

But sure enough, an MRI confirmed UCL damage, and Medlen set off for his second Tommy John surgery.

Medlen, 30, is all the way back this spring, having pitched half a season for the Royals in 2015 and having undergone a normal offseason workout routine.

But Monday's start, he said, isn't particularly meaningful.

"I don't think so," Medlen said. "I think I'm over the symbolic, comeback story stuff. I've been given the trust in terms of making a start. I'm just going to take that and run with that.

"I'm just trying to be pretty unselfish and do what they're targeting me to do."

Medlen will concede it was a relief to partake in a normal offseason workout schedule, unlike last offseason when he was limited.

"Technically it was a normal offseason," Medlen said. "It was shorter, of course, because of the World Series. But it was my first regular offseason in a while. I just applied all the knowledge from my first Tommy John surgery in terms of how I take care of myself.

"Physically I feel great. I think I've put myself in a pretty good spot to get things done."

This camp has been a pleasant surprise for Medlen as well. He has been able to participate in every aspect of his throwing schedule.

"Definitely different than last year," Medlen said. "I'm able to even actually throw the ball in PFP [pitchers fielding practice]. Last year it was very cautious with everything, [I] didn't throw my first bullpen until midway through the spring. Now I've been ready to go from the start."

Manager Ned Yost knows that pitchers coming back in the second year from Tommy John surgery typically are much stronger than the first year back.

"They're back to square one in terms of competing," Yost said. "No limitations. Normal winter. They're ready to go."

But Medlen, who went 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA for the Royals, vows to not to get too amped for his spring debut.

"I think you have to find a happy medium," Medlen said. "It's just more about timing and just getting that first outing out of the way with the added intensity of facing hitters from another team. That's why you do the bullpens first, then live BP, then games -- it's a slow progression.

"So it's more about finding that medium between the intensity of the game and not being too concerned about the results. It's just about getting work done."