MRI delivers bad news to Royals, Pimentel

Julio Pimentel, ranked as the 16th best Royals prospect this year in RC's top 60, has reportedly sustained ligament damage and a non-displaced bone spur fracture in his right elbow. The injury occurred on Friday when he was pitching in a spring training game against the Texas Rangers.

Pimentel told that he heard a pop after throwing a pitch to the Rangers' Hank Blalock, and his elbow began swelling up. He was immediately removed from the game, and an MRI over the weekend revealed the damage. The Royals are now seeking a second opinion regarding whether or not the 23-year-old right-hander will undergo surgery.

If the club ultimately opts to repair the elbow surgically, Pimentel could miss significant time. However, if physicians determine the injury can heal on its own without surgery, he could feasibly be back on the mound in a couple of months.

This setback is certainly unwelcome news for the organization. Pimentel, who is on the 40-man roster, is a young pitcher for whom the Royals have high hopes. After a dominant campaign in Wilmington in 2007, Pimentel spent the entire 2008 season with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, where he was 7-13 with a 5.38 ERA and 115 strikeouts in a career-high 157.1 innings pitched. Before the injury, he was likely slated to return to Double-A this season.

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