He had booked a flight back to Cleveland and already packed up his apartment in Arizona. Kevin Bourque was ready to become the man for the team that traded up to grab him at 3rd overall in 2028. He was hailed as a future ace with a clean bill of health who would be ready to compete only a few short months after being drafted.
It was well known around the CBA that the Great Lakes Monsters would not compete in 2029, and possessed a valuable commodity in Bourque. The phone lines in Cleveland were abuzz with offers, and General Manager Quinn Grant ultimately settled on Arizona’s offer of a second and third round picks for a season with the Master of Torque.
The season certainly had its ups and downs, beginning with a strained biceps in the first month of the season. As Bourque moved from the pen to a starting spot in the Thunderbirds rotation, he had some struggles against the ultra-competitive Premier League, but overall was an above average starter as a developing rookie. His best moment came going toe to toe with reigning Keith Bush award winner Chad Armbruster in Cincinnati and arguably outdueling him.
Miami needed a win against Bourque in the last week of the season and they got it in a big way. Being left out far too long, the young southpaw got killed and cost the Thunderbirds the game. Seemed like a bad final game for Bourque, right?
Unlucky for Kevin, he got another chance to prove himself against the Detroit Motors on two days rest. When asked about his young star pitching on short rest in a low leverage scenario, General Manager Quinn Grant seemed confused but not concerned, “It’s cool he’s durable.”
Bourque did pitch well on September 21, but that is not what will be remembered from that game. On his 47th pitch against the Motors, Bourque heard a pop in his shoulder. Fans in Arizona felt bad, those in Cleveland were devastated. As he walked off the mound, batter Jeff Reiche gave a tip of the cap knowing all too well what a shoulder injury means in the CBA.
Kevin Bourque got lucky. It could’ve been worse. The timeline that ace surgeon James Andrews Jr. laid out could have the young pitcher returning to the mound mid-season. The concern is future injuries and performance decline. “We drafted this guy to be one of the most dominant workhorses the league has seen, now we can only hope he continues progressing as a pitcher.”
While many around the league seem to think the Monsters are back on the right track to success under Grant, this is a major setback for the team. They trusted their trainers that Bourque was nearly invincible and that he could handle a PL workload.