Zimmer makes Royals’ spring debut against Dodgers
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kyle Zimmer is healthy again, and that’s enough for the Kansas City Royals right now.
Zimmer made his spring training debut Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and got two outs in the fifth inning. He was charged with a run and one hit with two walks in Kansas City’s 6-4 loss.
“I felt pretty good,” Zimmer said. “I got a little bit tired. It was great out there to see a batter in the box and be able to compete again. I’m not too worried about results right now, but just getting back in the game was great.
“I wouldn’t say nervous, more just see how it goes. It’s a spring training game. I’ve been out there before in the past. Just get the first one out of the way. It was fun to get back out there for sure.”
Zimmer was selected by Kansas City with the fifth pick in the 2012 draft. The right-hander had a big fastball and a knee-buckling curve in his front-of-the-rotation stuff.
Then there was a rash of health issues. He had an elbow procedure, shoulder surgery, a latissimus dorsi strain and thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
The outing against Los Angeles was his first time in a game since Aug. 15 with Triple-A Omaha. He threw 36 2/3 innings in 21 appearances last year in the minors. That was up from 2016, when he pitched just 5 2/3 innings.
The 26-year-old Zimmer acknowledged he was “a little bit” curious how he would fare.
“In the live BPs, I was throwing with really good intensity, treating it like a game,” he said. “It felt good to get through those. Those were great tests going into a game, but a game with fans in the stands was going to be a little bit different.
“I’m happy with where we’re at. I’ve got some things to work on and clean up and we’re going to move forward.”
Zimmer’s fastball was clocked in the low 90s against his first couple of hitters, but dropped to the upper 80s.
“I wasn’t really trying to put much on it, just sort of cruising, fill the zone and go after them,” he said. “I’m sure the velocity will continue to go up as I build up arm strength and getting adjusted.”
Zimmer’s future could be in the bullpen instead of starting.
“I don’t know yet,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s never been healthy enough to determine what he is. He feels really, really good now. After the thoraric thing and removing some sutures that were grabbing at him, now he’s feeling great and he looks great, very healthy, a picture of health.”