Back injury makes this season essentially a washout for Kyle Zimmer

Kyle Zimmer suffered a back injury last week in an intrasquad game and now his 2014 season is basically kaput.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Do you believe in curses?

The Royals seemingly can’t buy a break. As they await news regarding an MRI on young star Yordano Ventura’s sore elbow, they announced that right-hander Kyle Zimmer, their No. 1 draft pick from 2012, will miss 6-8 weeks because of a strained right latissiumus dorsi muscle.

The Royals had kept Zimmer in Arizona through this spring and brought him along slowly because of tendinitis issues that popped up last season. The plan had been to elevate Zimmer to Double-A Northwest Arkansas as soon as this week.

Now, it appears Zimmer’s season essentially will be a washout.

"It looks that way," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told "Realistically, he won’t be able to throw at all for six to eight weeks and then he’ll basically have to start all over. But it will already be August by then and there won’t be much of a season left.

"The silver lining, I guess, is that it’s not a ligament issue and it’s not a shoulder issue. It’s a muscle in his back."

Picollo said Zimmer, 22, is taking the setback hard.

"He’s down," Picollo said. "He has been kind of stuck in Arizona for five months getting ready to make the jump to Northwest Arkansas and then this happens. But he’s a tough kid and he’ll get through this."

Picollo said Zimmer suffered the injury last week during an intrasquad game.

"He was only scheduled for 30 pitches that game," Picollo said. "And his velocity had gone from about 94-97 mph to 89 or 90. And he said he felt something kind of strange. The next day he went out to throw and he felt something in his back.

"That’s when we started to do the tests and get an idea as to the extent of the injury."

Last season, Zimmer, the fifth overall pick in 2012, went 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 22 combined starts between Class-A Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas.

Zimmer especially was effective after the promotion to Double A. He went 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in four starts there and struck out 27 hitters in 18 2/3 innings.

Scouts raved that Zimmer appeared to be almost toying with hitters there.

But after his fourth start, he began feeling discomfort in his biceps, later diagnosed as tendinitis, and his season was shut down.

"He had been working so hard this spring and he was getting so close," Picollo said. "It’s a bad break, but at least it’s not anything arm related or shoulder related."

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at