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Still a starter, Zimmer shows potential as reliever

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals have registered pretty good success at converting starters to dominant late-inning relievers.

Look at Joakim Soria years ago. Then Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar. Even Danny Duffy was a pretty good setup guy at one point.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals have registered pretty good success at converting starters to dominant late-inning relievers.

Look at Joakim Soria years ago. Then Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar. Even Danny Duffy was a pretty good setup guy at one point.

Could right-hander Kyle Zimmer be the next in line?

"That would be nice," Zimmer said, smiling. "Those guys have had pretty good success. This is a boring answer but all I can do is worry about today. Right now, I just want to stay healthy."

Zimmer's injury history has been well-documented since the Royals took him in the first round of the 2012 Draft. His latest medical procedure was having thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last August, and his recovery from that has been encouraging.

Zimmer's first outing this spring was a two-inning start. His next outing Saturday came in the eighth inning and Zimmer put the Giants down 1-2-3, then headed to the clubhouse.

The one-inning stint wasn't necessarily an effort for the Royals to convert Zimmer to the bullpen. They still view him as a starter. Royals manager Ned Yost explained it simply has been hard to get all his pitchers work this early in spring, so Zimmer was limited to one inning Saturday.

But does Yost think Zimmer could be a Hochevar or a Davis?

"Why not? But we're just thinking of him as a starter right now," Yost said. "We'll see."

Video: Top Prospects: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals

Zimmer knew ahead of time he would only go one inning Saturday.

"It's different," Zimmer said. "You're sitting around kind of waiting to gear up. Then you get the adrenaline rush and that's it. It's definitely different. But I had fun."

Zimmer's velocity hit 95 mph (with what Yost referred to as a slow gun).

"It's always nice to see the results of letting it go a little bit and having [the velocity] be there," Zimmer said. "But this time of year I never even look at the velocity. If you hadn't told me, I wouldn't have known."

Zimmer's main concern is the health of his arm and shoulder, and the bounce-back a day after throwing.

"It feels good," Zimmer said. "Each time I throw, the day after is better. I was pretty beat up the first time I threw. I was sore. But it's better and better. The bounce-back is a lot better.

"I think the arm is adjusting and I'm excited to keep pushing."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Kyle Zimmer