Kansas City Royals sign former Kansas Jayhawks pitcher to minor-league contract

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Veteran left-hander and former University of Kansas pitcher Sam Freeman signed a minor-league contract with the Royals as he attempts a comeback from the second Tommy John surgery of his professional career.

Freeman, 34, made his major-league debut in 2012 and pitched in parts of nine seasons in the big leagues before sitting out the entire 2021 season as he recovered from elbow surgery.

A 32nd-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008, Freeman last pitched on August 12, 2020.

He has recorded a 3.58 ERA in 271 career games in the majors. He has 232 strikeouts in 233 2/3 innings with a 1.425 WHIP during his stints with the Cardinals (2012-14), Texas Rangers (2015), Milwaukee Brewers (2016), Atlanta Braves (2017-18), Los Angeles Angels (2019) and Washington Nationals (2020).

He made just seven appearances during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with the Nationals before going on the injured list with a flexor strain in August. He underwent Tommy John surgery that same month. He’d previously had Tommy John surgery while in the minors in 2010.

Before his surgery, he’d featured a sinking fastball between 93-95 mph.

A Texas native, Freeman pitched one season for the Jayhawks (2008) after two at North Central Texas College.

This winter, the Royals have signed veteran relievers Arodys Vizcaino, Colten Brewer and Freeman to minor-league deals. All three have major-league experience.

Before the MLB lockout and transaction freeze, they also signed pitcher Taylor Clarke to a major-league deal.

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