Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs — my professional teams — had such promising seasons a year ago. But things have happened since spring training opened for the Royals and free agency opened for the NFL that has this fan reeling.
The day the Daily News ran an article about Luke Hochevar leaving a Royals’ spring training game, Kansas City announces the right-hander would have season-ending surgery. It was reported that Hochevar felt a twinge in his elbow on the next-to-last pitch of a scoreless two-inning outing against the Chicago White Sox.
An MRI the next day revealed a major tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. That means Hochevar will have Tommy John surgery today and be sidelined for the season.
Say it ain’t so.
The 30-year-old Hochevar went 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA and two saves in 58 relief appearances last season. He held opponents to a .169 batting average, which ranked third among AL relievers with at least 60 innings. Hochevar switched to the bullpen last year after going 38-59 with a 5.44 ERA in 128 career starts.
The Royals won 86 games last year, their most victories since the 1989 club went 92-70. Kansas City hasn’t been in the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series.
I’m not totally bummed about the Royals’ opportunities to continue to move up the ladder again in 2014. It’s just that you hate to see a piece of what was good go bad. I’m not a fair-weather fan, so I’m still optimistic as 2014 Opening Day looms closer and closer — March 31 at Detroit for Kansas City.
Kansas City had Danny Duffy go down last year and he’s working his way back into the pitching rotation coming back from Tommy John surgery. James Shields is a top pitcher returning, then they have Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen on the mound and Joaquin Benoit as the new setup man out of bullpen.
They also have two good, younger pitchers in Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer. Plus Greg Holland is back as Kansas City’s closer.
The Royals are hitting at a .306 clip this spring. They’ve added some veterans to help the batting order produce more. The Royals are still a very young team.
Say it ain’t so — Chiefs.
For this diehard Kansas City Chiefs fans, last year was a breath of fresh air. The Chiefs were in the hunt right to the end and that was so good to see after the disastrous 2012 season. Head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey made decisions last year during free agency that brought some impact players to the team.
When free agency opened in 2014, not so. Within a Kansas City heartbeat, the Chiefs lost five starters to other teams.
The 2013 offensive line was by no means the best in the NFL nor was it the best the Chiefs have had, but it was good enough to build on. Kansas City saw tackle Branden Albert and right guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah leave. Receiver and returner Dexter McCluster gone. Defensive end Tyson Jackson gone.
Chiefs fans watched as division rival Denver handed out big deals to Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware to shore up its defense.
Say it ain’t so.
Again, not a fair-weather fan here. I’m going to put my faith in Reid and Dorsey again. I’m going to believe what they’ve been stressing to all of us — “build through the draft.