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Drew Waters out six weeks with an oblique strain

The outfielder will miss the start of the season.

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Royals outfielder Drew Waters will miss six weeks with a left oblique strain, according to reporter Anne Rogers. That makes it unlikely he’ll be ready by Opening Day. Waters tweaked the oblique during the first day of full-squad workouts on Monday.

Waters was expected to compete for a starting job in the outfield, but his absence likely means Kyle Isbel has secured the starting centerfield job. The injury could also open up right field for Edward Olivares and allow Franmil Reyes, who was signed to a minor league deal last week, to get regular playing time at DH.

Waters was acquired last summer from the Braves with two other minor leaguers for a draft pick. The switch-hitter impressed at the plate with a line of .240/.324/.479 with five home runs in 32 games. Waters is a former top 100 prospect who seemed to benefit from the change of scenery and hitting instruction from Alec Zumwalt. The 24-year-old seemed like the favorite to start in center or right field to start the year, but this injury poses a setback.

Rogers also reported that outfielder Brewer Hicklen is out eight weeks with a right-elbow strain. Hicklen appeared in six games with the Royals last year and hit .248/.348/.502 with 28 home runs and 35 steals for Omaha, earning a non-roster invite to camp.