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Sidelined this season, Sox’ Michael Kopech plans to be better, stronger in 2020

Video by Annie Costabile

Michael Kopech is trying to find a positive spin on his situation.

Less than a month after getting called up in August, Kopech learned he would need Tommy John surgery and would miss the 2019 season.

“There were points where I was just devastated, I didn’t want to do anything,” Kopech said during the first day of SoxFest.

“It’s tough, that’s the most difficult part. It’s not the rehab, it’s being optimistic about it.”

But Kopech, 22, who was expected to be a top-of-the rotation starter in 2019, refused to feel sorry for himself. Although not playing this season is going to be “God awful,” Kopech said, it’s also a “blessing” in disguise.

“I have a lot of time off, but I have a lot of time to get better,” Kopech said. “I went to the big leagues last year with practically a non-existent changeup, and that’s going to be one of the focal points of my rehab. Between that and a couple of other things, I’m going to really try to take advantage of this time off.”

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Kopech believes he will be better and stronger than before when he returns in 2020.

“I’m a little too stubborn [to give up],” he said. “So even if my arm wasn’t up for it, my mind was, so I was going to come back one way or another.”

Cease the day

Dylan Cease is in a similar situation as where Kopech was last year at this time. The 2018 MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year is a budding star, but he hasn’t spent enough time in the minor leagues yet, according to general manager Rick Hahn.

Kopech and Cease — whom MLB Pipeline ranked the Nos. 3 and 5 best right-handed pitching prospects, respectively — have a lot in common, and Kopech recognized that.

“There’s no going around it, he’s a hell of a pitcher,” Kopech said. “I’m not one to play GM, but he’s going to be there this year.”

Hahn wouldn’t be surprised if Cease makes his way to the majors next season.

“The good ones have a way of forcing your hand,” Hahn said. “And it won’t shock me if some point over the course of the summer we’ll be getting repeated ‘When is Dylan Cease coming up?’ questions.”