Some news and notes from the last few days:
- On Sunday C-John Buck was placed on the 15-day DL with a lower back injury. To take his place on the roster the Royals called up C-Brayan Pena from Triple-A Omaha. I’m hoping Pena tears the cover off the ball so he sticks on the roster and Buck is the one sent packing when he’s ready to come off the DL. The Royals got Pena through waivers once already this season. I doubt it will happen again. Buck, on the other hand, will almost assuredly clear waivers if he’s put out there. Buck was hitting .226/.313/.452 at the time of his injury which is actually a slight improvement over the previous 2 seasons, but he has never hit higher than .245. On top of unimpressive offensive numbers, he is making $2.9 million this season and is throwing out less than 10% of baserunners on the season. He has no business remaining with the Royals at this point.
- Speaking of players who have no business on the ML roster, Tony Pena Jr. was activated from the 15-day DL on Tuesday. Pena takes the place of Coco Crisp who was placed on the bereavement list following the death of his great-grandmother. Unable to resist the charms of TPJ, Hillman has started him 2 straight games and Pena has responded by going 1-6 and raised his average to .059. As far as Crisp goes, it sucks that his great-grandmother died, but the extra time off should help him rest his shoulder. Since Hillman apparently refuses to hit DeJesus at leadoff, the Royals need Crisp back as soon as possible. I cannot handle another game with Bloomquist or Maier hitting leadoff.
- Also coming off the DL on Tuesday was Joakim Soria. Based on the team’s performance since he hit the DL, it would be easy to overstate what Soria means to the Royals pitching staff. Whether he is completely healthy or not, I’ll take the Mexicutioner at 75-85% over the rest of the pen at 100%. To make room for Soria on the roster, the Royals placed Sidney Ponson on the 15-day DL with a “right forearm strain.” Ponson said he felt the pain during his appearance against the White Sox last Friday. Whether or not he is really hurt, and I doubt he is, this injury does not excuse the fact that he has been flat-out terrible for most of the season. Ponson is yet another example of a player that should not be on a major league roster.
- Mike Aviles traveled to Los Angeles on Tuesday to get a second opinion on his right forearm. You may recall that I questioned the legitimacy of Aviles’ injury a few weeks ago. Well, I was wrong and I formally apologize to Mike Aviles and the Royals for questioning their motives in this instance. Aviles was to be seen by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum. Anytime a player goes to see Dr. Yocum or Dr. Andrews things are not looking up. Hopefully they can figure out what the problem is and get it fixed. The Royals need Aviles on the field and playing at a high level. When he is playing well he is the spark that this team is desperately missing right now.
- Saturday’s TBA starting pitcher figures to be Luke Hochevar. Since he was sent down he has pitched 8.0 innings giving up 13 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, and 6 SO. I’m still a big believer in Hoch, but I can’t help but wonder if bringing up Lenny DiNardo to take the bullet would be the better long-term move. In 52.0 IP for Omaha this season, DiNardo has a 3.29 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 3.90 SO/BB. We might be seeing DiNardo anyway since Bannister got rocked again tonight. On May 7th BB’s ERA hit 1.48. Since that night it has steadily climbed and now sits at 4.80. He has now allowed 57 H and 19 BB in 52.0 IP for the Royals this season. For the most part he kept it together for 5 starts this season, but he has been destroyed ever since.
- In tonight’s 9-0 loss the Royals were down 4-0 after 2 innings, 8-0 after 4 innings, and managed only 2 hits in 29 AB. Ugh!