X-rays negative after Hochevar hit by liner
Righty day to day with contusion to left ankle; next start in question
KANSAS CITY -- It could have been much worse for Luke Hochevar.
The Royals' starter was forced to leave Friday's home opener -- an 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians -- after being struck on the ankle by a line drive off the bat of Indians catcher Carlos Santana. Thankfully for the Royals, X-rays taken at Kauffman Stadium were negative, and Hochevar is listed as day to day.
"I don't think much was going through my mind other than taking the pain away," Hochevar said after the game. "That's as solid as I've ever been hit, and I could hear it echo through my body. That ball was smoked, and it hit me solid. It dropped me like I got shot."
The injury was announced as a medial contusion to the left ankle, and it occurred with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Hochevar's pitch to Santana was rocketed back at him and hit him in the ankle. The ball ricocheted to Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who stepped on first base to record the out. Hochevar dropped to the ground and remained there until he was helped to his feet and off the field by head athletic trainer Nick Kenney and manager Ned Yost.
"That was hit pretty hard, and it got him right in the ankle," Hosmer said. "The ball came right to me, but the main thing was I wanted to see if he was all right. You know when Luke's down for a minute like that, it has to hurt."
Yost said he feared Hochevar's leg had been fractured, which would have knocked out the pitcher for an extended period of time. Yost was unsure if Hochevar would make his next scheduled start, saying that would be determined over the course of the next few days.
If Hochevar isn't able to make his next start, Yost said that reliever Everett Teaford would be a good option to start in his place. Teaford made his first appearance of the season Friday in relief of Hochevar. He threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and two walks. He threw 70 pitches and struck out three.
"I'm kind of that versatility guy in the bullpen," Teaford said. "I can start. I made a couple starts last year. And obviously, throwing 70 pitches today will kind of stretch me out a little bit. And we'll see what happens."
Hochevar's day wasn't going so well before the injury. He had a hard time of things in the first inning, facing 11 Cleveland batters and allowing seven runs.
After the game, players from both clubhouses voiced their relief that Hochevar wasn't injured more seriously.
"That's the first thing that goes through your head any time that happens is make sure your teammate's OK," Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said.
"I'm just glad he's OK," Santana said. "I made good contact with that pitch, and sometimes those things happen. Getting hit with the ball ... it happens in this game. It happens to me when I'm catching and maybe get hit with a foul tip that really hurts. He's going to be OK, that's the important thing."
The injury is the latest for a Royals team that has suffered many this year dating back to Spring Training. The team currently has six players on the disabled list, including outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.
Not much is known about Hochevar's status for his next scheduled start. As for the status of his ankle, Hochevar knows one thing.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.