Sunday, exactly one week after turning in a ghastly performance for Triple-A Omaha, Brad Keller didn't improve a bit during his latest injury rehab assignment outing.
Instead, he was worse.
In case you missed the last week's debacle, Keller lasted only a third of an inning in Omaha's 8-1 loss to Atlanta Triple-A affiliate Gwinnett; he walked four, gave up a hit, and was charged with six runs. Then Sunday, putting in his sixth minor league appearance as he recovers and regroups after right shoulder impingement syndrome forced him to the Injured List in mid-May, he again lasted only a third of an inning, gave up another six runs, and instead of surrendering only one hit, handed Indianapolis four. He also walked three batters.
Unfortunately for the Storm Chasers, those six runs Keller yielded broke a 3-3 fifth-inning tie and proved, as did the runs he gave up to Gwinnett the week before, to be the difference in the game: Omaha lost to Indy 11-4. (Indy also scored twice against Keller in the inning he worked Friday). Keller is now 0-3 with a 21.00 ERA at Omaha. He's also walked 17 in only six innings.
Sunday's performance, and to a lesser extent Friday's, further clouds Keller's future with the Royals. As we pointed out after Gwinnett battered him, he's out of minor league options, so a post-rehab assignment extension of his Omaha stay is no sure thing. And moving him before the Aug. 1 trade deadline may now be difficult, if not impossible.
The playing status of KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez is in question
Salvador Perez, Kansas City's sole representative in last week's All-Star Game, arrived in Seattle for that contest in the depressing throes of a 4-for-43 slump. But the All-Star single he hit must have triggered something good—Perez went 5-for-8 (four singles and a double) in Saturday's doubleheader against Tampa Bay, the Royals' first action since before the All-Star Break, and then began his Sunday with another single in the first inning of the club's sweep-avoiding victory 8-4 victory over the Rays.
Whether that's the last hit we'll see from Perez for a while is now one of the questions looming over the Royals. After singling, Perez, never known for his speed but always known for his hustle, tried to score from first on MJ Melendez's two-out double; he succeeded, but gave way to pinch hitter Freddy Fermin in the third. The club soon publicly confirmed what Perez's early departure signaled—an injury, which MLB.com KC beat writer Anne Rogers quickly reported as a hamstring strain:
Whether the testing Rogers mentioned reveals a more serious issue will soon be known. Until then, Perez's playing status remains up in the air. Should he be out for any appreciable length of time, MJ Melendez could see at least some action behind the plate, probably as Fermin's backup considering Melendez's regular outfield duties. But the better move would be to leave Melendez in the outfield and give Omaha backstop Logan Porter, who's hitting .277 with 10 homers and a .383 OBP, the first major league chance he deserves.
Two former KC Royals remain without big league jobs as the stretch run nears
With the midsummer trade deadline only 15 days away, major league teams will soon start their regular season stretch run. Contenders are intensifying their searches for additional help, looking for trades and perhaps a free agent or two who haven't found new homes after in-season releases.
So far, a pair of ex-Royals remain unemployed. Eric Hosmer, DFA'd by the Cubs in May and released a few days later, has no new big league home. The same goes for Hunter Dozier, who met the same fate at the Royals' hands not long after Chicago parted ways with Hosmer.
Time will tell whether either former Royal lands a new job.