The KC Royals have not been decimated by injury, but there has been a big effect on the team since Opening Day. First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino is out for the season due to surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Starter Kris Bubic also underwent Tommy John surgery on April 21, ending his season early. Those have been the only two season-ending injures for the Royals through the season's first half. There are several wear and tear injuries, ones that fans can expect some players to accumulate as the season goes along.
The KC Royals injuries are stacking up, but a wave of returns is coming.
The KC Royals announced that outfielder Diego Hernandez, the team's 15th-ranked prospect, is starting a rehab assignment in Surprise on June 21. The prospect dislocated his right shoulder in his first Cactus League game back on Feb. 25, ending his spring training before it got really started.
In that line of thought, there are some other injured players that could return to Kauffman in the coming month. These returns could provide some reinforcements to the Royals but also cause a slight roster crunch. Fans have been enjoying the youth movement as of late. After all, seeing rookies or younger players grow at the MLB level is more enjoyable than watching veterans struggle throughout a season. Veterans still do have value, but these injury returns will cause the Royals to reevaluate several roster spots soon.
Pitcher Brad Keller
Royals fans last saw pitcher Brad Keller reach a new low against the San Diego Padres. On May 15, he walked eight batters in less than four innings. That was the shortest start for Keller in 2023 while setting a new career high for walks in one outing. After his start, the Royals diagnosed Keller with right shoulder impingement syndrome. The righty has been on the shelf since.
Keller has been erratic throughout the 2023 season and still leads the team with 40 walks. The impending free agent has a career-high 8.3 BB/9 through nine starts. He is not going to fix the Royals rotation on his own, but having him back will fill a spot in the rotation.
Anne Rogers reported that Keller is "progressing toward a rehab assignment, having thrown live BP in Kansas City." She predicts Keller will be back in late June.
Outfielder Kyle Isbel
Outfielder Kyle Isbel isn't known for his bat, but his baserunning caused his injury. On May 4 against the Baltimore Orioles, Isbel was running out a bunt base hit but came up limping after the play. The Royals diagnosed the glove-first outfielder with a Grade 2 hamstring strain.
Since hitting the IL, there have not been many issues during Isbel's recovery. He began a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers on June 13. He has looked healthy in his five center-field starts so far. He has 19 plate appearances, registering a home run and 1.046 OPS.
Isbel's return may cause a roster crunch affecting Drew Waters, Samad Taylor, and Dairon Blanco. All three have experience in centerfield and fill the void from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Isbel. One of them may have to go back to Omaha once Isbel is ready to return. Rogers reports Isbel's return timeline as "late June to early July."
Pitcher Amir Garrett
Pitcher Amir Garrett has yet to record a save in Kansas City, but the seven-year veteran is a key bullpen arm for the Royals. He carries an even 3.00 ERA in 2023, with 10.3 K/9. The walks remain a problem, but the lefty has been missed since May 29.
The Royals shelved Garrett on June 2, retroactively to May 29. The diagnosis was left elbow valgus extension overload, but manager Matt Quatraro described the pain as "similar to a bone bruise." Garrett has had a smooth recovery, slated for some live action on June 19.
Anne Rogers expects the veteran back in mid-to-late July, giving the Royals some time to figure out the bullpen. There are some underperformers in the unit, but the Royals could be trading several relievers before Garrett returns.