Kyle Zimmer makes it to big leagues after Yost prank

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              FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 file photo, Kansas City Royals pitcher Kyle Zimmer throws during spring training baseball practice in Surprise, Ariz. Kansas City right-hander Kyle Zimmer finally made it to the major leagues after a prank by Royals manager Ned Yost, who told the pitcher he was going to Triple-A Omaha. What Yost didn’t say at first was that Zimmer was headed there for the Royals’ exhibition game and then would leave with the big league team for Kansas City and the opener against the Chicago White Sox.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Having spent six seasons in the minor leagues and last year working on his mechanics, right-hander Kyle Zimmer had a strong spring training for Kansas City and hoped to make the Royals’ opening day roster.

Then manager Ned Yost told the Zimmer and infielder Frank Schwindel they were going to Omaha, where the Royals’ Triple-A farm team plays.

“You could see their heads down,” Yost recalled. “But I said afterwards, Omaha is going to get on a plane and go back to Arizona. We’re going to get on a plane and go to Kansas City. And you’re going to be on that plane.”

The fifth overall pick in the 2012, Zimmer was with the Royals for Thursday’s opener against the Chicago White Sox.

“I feel like I have to have some sort of record for the most times coming out of a game with a trainer,” the 27-year-old said. “Any time you come off the field with a trainer is not a good time. Last spring was tough. It just felt like that was it.”

Zimmer resurrected his career with a six-month stint at Driveline baseball in Seattle, participating in a data-driven strength training program. He responded with a 0.71 ERA in nine spring training appearances over 12 2/3 innings.

“I never thought this day would be possible,” Yost said. “The way he would continue to fight but struggle with injury after injury after injury, I figured Driveline was a last resort.”

Zimmer said he doubted he would ever be in this position.

“Every day, several times, for multiple years,” he recalled, “you’d wake up with dagger-pain in your arm, not being able to perform the way you can because of having pain. There were several times when I thought this day would never come. For it to be here is pretty amazing.”

Yost enjoyed the way he delivered the good news.

“That’s as much fun, telling a guy he made the team, as it is not fun telling a guy that he didn’t,” the manager said.