The consensus belief was that the Kansas City Royals had a strong and deep bullpen in spring training, but two weeks into the season that is no longer accurate.
First, closer Joakim Soria, who has 160 saves with Kansas City, had season-ending Tommy John surgery before the season started.
While that left a big hole at the end of the bullpen, the Royals thought they were equipped to absorb that with free-agent signee RHP Jonathan Broxton, who collected 84 saves with the Dodgers; RHP Greg Holland, who was 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA and four saves as Soria's primary setup in 2011; and RHP Aaron Crow, an American League All-Star pick as a rookie.
Holland, however, struggled mightily at the start of this season: 0-2, 11.37 ERA, eight runs and 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings. After failing to retire any of the five Blue Jays he faced in a Friday night loss and throwing just seven strikes in 22 pitches, Holland complained of stiffness in his rib cage and shoulder blade area.
"It bothered him in spring training and kind of went away," manager Ned Yost said. "(Friday) was the first time it bothered him during the season. It didn't bother him when he was pitching, I don't think. He said it didn't, but it really started to stiffen up and get sore after he sat on the bench about 20 minutes and went into the training room, and so we decided to MRI (Saturday) to see what was going on."
The MRI detected a left rib stress reaction. A follow-up bone scan detected no stress fracture. Holland was placed on the 15-day disabled list and was shut down for five days. He probably will be out three weeks; but, if there were a fracture, he would have been out much longer.
Yost said Crow would become the primary setup for Broxton in Holland's absence.
"For the most part, it will be Crow," Yost said.