Yankees righty Michael King, who missed the final two and a half months of the 2022 season due to a fractured right elbow, tells The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty that he expects to be ready for Opening Day and anticipates being deployed as a multi-inning reliever in 2023. The 27 -year-old King was in the midst of a breakout season when he suffered his ill-timed injury. Prior to landing on the IL, he’d pitched to an outstanding 2.29 ERA and whiffed 33.2% of his opponents against a tidy 8% walk rate. The righty was also touting a career-high 47% grounder rate and a career-low 0.53 HR/9 mark. His 96.5 mph average fastball was the best of his career. Just three weeks ago, Opening Day was reported to be a slightly optimistic target for King, so his firmer confidence in his ability to be ready for the season is a welcome development for the Yankees and their fans.
A few more health/injury updates of note from around the league…
- Reds reliever Tejay Antone‘s offseason throwing program has been slowed by a forearm issue, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, although it’s not believed to be related to the right-hander’s surgically repaired elbow. Antone was having one of the best seasons of any reliever in baseball before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. The former fifth-rounder turned in an outstanding 2.14 ERA with a gaudy 32.8% strikeout rate against a 10.2% walk rate while holding opponents to a comically inept .152/.258/.250 batting line through 128 plate appearances. If healthy, he could quickly ascend the bullpen hierarchy and return to high-leverage work in 2022. Antone has another three seasons of club control remaining and is set to earn just $770K this season. As such, he’ll quite likely garner plenty of summer trade interest if he’s back to form, given the state of the Reds’ rebuild.
- Mariners reliever Paul Sewald might not be ready for the beginning of Spring Training, as Corey Brock of The Athletic reports that the righty underwent a “minor clean-up of his heel and elbow.” The exact timeline of the procedure or recovery are not known, although Brock suggests Sewald should still be ready to go by Opening Day. Turning 33 in May, Sewald is enjoying a late-career bloom. After posting underwhelming numbers over the 2017 to 2020 stretch, he has a 2.87 ERA in 127 appearances over the past two campaigns, striking out 34.8% of batters in that time against an 8.1% walk rate. He and the club agreed to a $4.1MM salary for the upcoming campaign and he’ll have one further arbitration season in 2024 before he’s slated for free agency.