When it comes time to select a team in free agency, each player has their reasons for choosing their destination. Some players want to play closer to home. Some, like Alex Rios, choose to go to a team in search of that elusive playoff bid. Others, like Kris Medlen, chose to come to the Kansas City Royals because of their medical staff.
Medlen, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, certainly has a reason to be concerned as to the qualifications of the medical staff on any team he would be interested in. While Tommy John surgeries are becoming far more common, there still is not as much data on players undergoing the procedure for a second time. With Medlen being one of the few to undertake such a journey, it is understandable that he would be interested in having one of the best medical staffs in baseball on his side.
It is certainly a great option for Kris Medlen. He had appeared to be on the way towards turning into a solid top of the rotation starter. His 15-12 record with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.223 WHiP may not have exactly been ace material, but those are excellent numbers for a second starter.
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It will be some time before the Royals get to see Medlen on the mound in Kansas City. Right now, the plans are for him to make his Royals debut sometime in July or August, where he will likely pitch in relief for most of the season. September may see Medlen get a start or two, but it would not really be until 2016 that the Royals let him loose.
Fortunately for both the Royals and Kris Medlen, that plan may be perfect. Including Chris Young, the Royals already have six starters at the major league level, which would allow Medlen to work his way back in a long relief role. If he can pitch even close to the level that he did back in 2012 or 2013, the Royals may find themselves with yet another weapon in the bullpen, simply making the expected strength of the team even stronger.
As Medlen himself has stated that he feels pitchers need 16 to 20 months after Tommy John surgery to be able to start pitching once again, the Royals will be able to give him that time. Likewise, the Royals medical staff will be right there to make sure that his elbow is doing fine, and that there are no problems to be concerned with. For Medlen, who has already undergone two Tommy John surgeries, that has to be an incredible relief.
Kris Medlen may have come to the Kansas City Royals for a different reason than most pitchers would, but his recognition of the training staff and their expertise may lead to other talented pitchers coming off arm injuries heading to Kansas City on a short term contract.