One of the American Association’s more prominent major leaguers of recent years is missing from the list of 15 players involved in the busy activity of major league spring training camps although he certainly is not out of mind.
Right-handed reliever Luke Hochevar, who did not allow a run in nine postseason appearances while the Kansas City Royals were winning their second World Series title in 2015, simply is not recovered sufficiently from last summer’s thoracic outlet syndrome surgery to be that appealing to the Royals or any other team right now.
“The Royals’ front office and coaching staff have a terrific relationship with Hochevar, and that’s not going to change,” Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reported from spring training in Surprise, AZ of the 33-year-old, who made his professional debut in the American Association 11 years ago. “A possible reunion (with KC) would probably hinge on his health and the organization’s needs later this summer.”
Dodd says the timetable for Hochevar to throw for teams remains uncertain.
Hochevar, taken by the Royals with the first overall choice in the 2006 draft, posted a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances last season.
‘The Fire Still Burns’ for Recovering Scheppers
Like Luke Hochevar, Tanner Scheppers started his pro journey in the American Association (St. Paul). He has battled injuries for much of the last three years, and now the 30-year-old is being looked at as one who could be a secret weapon in the bullpen for the Texas Rangers.
“I’ve gone from being a potential closer to opening day starter to hurt, Scheppers reminded The Dallas Morning News. “Unfortunately, it’s put me in this situation that I’m in now. I’m OK with that. The game was taken away from me, but that’s only made the fire inside me to pitch burn stronger. I have a lot to prove.”
A year ago after suffering a knee injury, the righthander underwent microfracture surgery and didn’t return to the majors until September when he still was not fully recovered. He is just now starting to run distances again after having to do cardio on a bike for almost a year after surgery. Scheppers has pitched just 70 innings since the start of the 2014 season.
The Continuing Story of Eddie Oropesa
Only seven players who were part of the initial modern day Independent Baseball season in 1993 ever made it to the major leagues as players, according to extensive records maintained by IndyBaseballChatter.com, with the best of that group being St. Paul’s Kevin Millar.
At least one teammate of Millar’s who made it to the top still is active in the professional game. That would be southpaw Eddie Oropesa, who was officially announced last weekend as bench coach for Arizona’s farm club in Visalia, Calif. Oropesa posted an 8-4 record in 125 major league games split between Philadelphia, San Diego and Arizona from 2001-04. His lengthy post-playing career included two seasons as a coach/interpreter with the Los Angeles Dodgers for fellow-Cuban Yasiel Puig.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, came out in October and is available at various sites, including www.WirzandAssociates.com.