RHP-Luke Hochevar was optioned to Triple-A Omaha after his best start of the season on Saturday. Since Hochevar has gotten better over his 3 starts this move does not come as a result of his performance. In fact in his 2nd and 3rd starts he pitched better than his final pitching line would indicate. Hochevar was sent down because of the upcoming open days the Royals have on May 28th and June 1st. This will allow the Royals to run with a 4 man rotation until to June 6th when they would either have to pitch Davies on short rest or have Ponson make a spot start. Since they also have open dates on June 8th, 15th and 22nd it would make more sense to have Ponson make spot starts on the days he is needed until they will routinely need a 5th starter. This move may have been hastened by Greinke’s public comments that he prefers to stay on regular rest instead of getting an extra day between starts. In that same interview he also stated that Meche hates getting extra days between his starts so keeping them both on their regular routine seems to be in everyone’s best interest.
SS-Mike Aviles was placed on the 15-day DL due to his strained right forearm. Not sure why this wasn’t done originally if Aviles really is hurt. As someone commented on a message board, he was most likely placed on the DL due to “suckitis” which is consistent with my own feelings on the situation. In reality I think he is heading to Arizona to rediscover his swing and rebuild his confidence. Based on the other options the Royals have at SS, he better find his stroke if they are going to stay in the divisional race. In his absence we will probably be subjected to the dreadful defensive stylings of Willie Bloomquist or the light bat of Luis Hernandez.
RHP-Robinson Tejeda was placed on the 15-day DL with tendinitis of his right rotator cuff. Tejeda has been a pleasant surprise for the Royals this year and has been the primary strikeout force in the bullpen. In 17.0 innings this year, Tejeda has a 2.65 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and 12.18 SO/9. His absence will be a major blow to an already exhausted and fading bullpen.
LHP-John Bale was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to fill one of the holes on the pitching staff. They had planned on giving him 4 or 5 outings at Triple-A before activating him on June 3rd when his 30 day rehab assignment was over. Circumstance obviously altered the Royals plans. Bale made his 2009 debut on Sunday pitching 1.1 clean innings of baseball with 2 strikeouts in the process. When he has been healthy the last 2 years he has been an effective member of the Royals pitching staff. His presence can only help stabilize the bullpen.
The Royals also recalled RHP-Roman Colon from Triple-A Omaha to give the bullpen yet another fresh arm. During Spring Training Colon pitched 14.0 innings with a 4.50 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and 3.25 SO/BB. For the Omaha Royals he had pitched 25.1 innings with a 2.84 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 3.25 SO/BB. Colon has logged 127.0 career major league innings with Atlanta and Detroit from 2004-2006. He has a career 5.03 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 2.02 SO/BB. If he pitches well he can certainly earn a season-long spot in the bullpen.
IF-Tug Hulett was also recalled from Omaha to take the roster spot of Mike Aviles. In Triple-A, Hulett has played 2B, 3B and SS so he gives the Royals even more positional flexibility. The Royals have been playing him primarily at 2B this season, but in 2008 he played over half of his game at SS while in the Mariners organization. Statistically his best defensive position is at SS. At the time of his call up yesterday Hulett was hitting .296/.381/.461 in 178 AB. His 2009 minor league numbers are in line with his career numbers of .284/.393/.412 in 2111 minor league ABs. I hope they give Tug a shot at playing SS with the end result of keeping Willie Bloomquist in the role of super utility player, but I’m sure we are going to see a whole lot of Willie at SS instead.