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Royals' Starling might have eye surgery

Lexington outfielder reports having trouble seeing ball at night
May 15, 2013

Top Royals prospect Bubba Starling is heading to Kansas City to be evaluated for a potential Lasik eye surgery.

According to the Kansas City Star, Starling, the Royals' first-round pick in the 2011 Draft, has complained to the organization about his ability to see the ball during night games. The team said he will have surgery if an eye examination suggests it would help.

"When a player makes mention of it, we're going to get it checked again," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told the newspaper. "Upon his examination, there was a discrepancy from his last eye examination, which was in 2012, to this year's most recent one. He's going to see our doctor here, and he is a potential candidate for Lasik surgery. If that's the case, we're just going to go ahead and get it taken care of right away."

Starling is batting .213 with four homers, 17 RBIs, five steals and a .286 on-base percentage in 35 games with Class A Lexington this season after finishing his rookie campaign hitting .275 with 10 homers and 33 home runs in 53 games at Rookie-level Burlington.

The 20-year-old outfielder has hits in his last four games but has struggled against right-handed pitchers, against whom he's batting .177.

Picollo said even if Starling undergoes the procedure, he isn't expected to miss much time.

"The turnaround time for Lasik is so quick that he can potentially be back in the lineup maybe as early as this weekend," he said. "However, we're not counting on it, nor do we think it's necessary."

The Royals don't consider the surgery to be anything more than minor -- Picollo said it's not uncommon for athletes in their early 20s to experience slight vision issues.

"It's very common from what we've been told by the eye experts," Picollo said. "Between 18 and 21 years old, players have developed astigmatisms in their eyes, which to the common person is not that big a deal. They may need corrective glasses to wear for a little bit and the astigmatism may take care of itself. But for an athlete, especially in baseball who's trying to hit, and you're dealing with Minor League lights, and competition against pitchers, the experts typically recommend getting the Lasik surgery.

"It's such a minor procedure now with very little chance of not working and not worrying about it anymore. You kind of put it behind you," he added.

Danny Wild is an editor for