White Sox's Michael Kopech Itching For His Return

White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech
Photo credit Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports
CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Now just more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, 23-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech is itching for his return.

"I am as ready I can be right now," Kopech said on a teleconference. "I have done everything I can to prepare. It has been a long time coming. I am ready to go for next spring."

Kopech underwent surgery to replace his right ulnar collateral ligament on Sept. 18, 2018 after making a brief-but-strong first impression in his first four MLB starts. While posting a 5.02 ERA in limited action, Kopech struck out 15 batters in 14 1/3 innings and flashed his electric arsenal.

Kopech admitted his rehab in Glendale, Arizona has been a lonely process. He has stayed in touch with teammates to help him along in his journey.

"I text them all of the time watching from afar," Kopech said. "I let them know after every start I am there with, eyes on them and that they are doing a good job. It's exciting the way the lineup has taken off that within a short time. I will hopefully be a part of that soon."

Kopech is said to be throwing in the mid-90s again now, but the White Sox will move him along gradually come spring training next February. If everything goes to plan, Kopech will be a key piece of a rotation in 2020 that includes right-hander Lucas Giolito, right-hander Dylan Cease, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and likely a free-agent addition.

"The word is he is doing very, very well," manager Rick Renteria said. "He is moving along in a great way in terms of health. He is showing everybody he is making tremendous strides to put himself back (in the rotation).

"He was not a finished product when we first got him. We want to make sure he progresses and stays healthy while getting him into camp 100 percent. We will get him in those spring games and see where he is at to make a determination of where he will begin."

Kopech is on a throwing and conditioning program right now and dreaming big.

"My goal is to go into spring training competing for a job in the starting rotation," he said. "If they have a (pitch) limitation for me, I am sure it will be in my best interest. There is nothing I have questioned at this point. I have been able to step back away from the game. You can say I have allowed life to catch up. I have a result-based mentality that I am carrying with me for most of my career and kind of had to rewire that. The results will be only as good as the work I put in."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.