HOUSTON — Extended outings Monday and Tuesday by Jonathan Sánchez and Luke Hochevar provided the necessary respite for the Royals’ bullpen to enable a roster move prior to Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The club bolstered its bench by recalling utility infielder Irving Falu from Class AAA Omaha after optioning reliever Louis Coleman back to the same club. The Royals, even after the move, are carrying 13 pitchers on their 25-man roster.
Coleman and lefty Tommy Hottovy were virtual emergency call-ups prior to Monday’s series opener after the Royals burned through 15 1/3 innings of bullpen work Saturday and Sunday at St. Louis.
Falu, 29, batted .326 over 12 games while making his big-league debut earlier this season. He was optioned back to Omaha when Yuniesky Betancourt returned June 1 from the disabled list.
The Royals opted for Falu over second baseman Johnny Giavotella largely because of his versatility. Falu also earned his recall by batting .370 with a .460 on-base percentage with four homers and 16 RBIs in 15 games following his return to Omaha
“He can play multiple positions,” manager Ned Yost said. “Yuni is going to play the majority of time at second base. So I wanted a guy who could also play third and short.”
“I also didn’t want to bring Gio up here to sit. I want Gio hitting (and playing every day). So Falu is the perfect guy. He can play the outfield, can play the infield; he’s a switch-hitter and gives us versatility on the bench.”
Coleman permitted five runs in two innings in Monday’s 9-7 loss to the Astros.
Yost said: “We’ve got (Roman) Colón who can be that long-guy right-hander.”
Brett to manage
George Brett will manage the U.S. team in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8 at Kauffman Stadium. Former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams will manage the World team.
The Futures Game seeks to showcase the game’s top minor-league prospects. Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas are among those players who participated in previous years.
Brett’s coaching staff will include Omaha manager Mike Jirschele, who led the Storm Chasers to the 2011 Pacific Coast League title.
Former Royals player and manager John Wathan will also be on Brett’s staff, while Chris DeLucia, the organization’s minor-league medical coordinator, will serve as medical operation coordinator for the U.S. club.
Rosters for the Futures Game will be announced Thursday.
Butler draws start
Yost offered a simple reason for choosing to start Billy Butler instead of Eric Hosmer at first base against Houston right-hander Jordan Lyles. The usual move would be to use the left-handed hitter – Hosmer.
“This ballpark is tailor-made for Billy,” Yost said. “I was going to play Hos, but I slept on it, and decided to play Billy.”
That’s probably true. Minute Maid Park is just 315 feet down the left-field line and remains attractively reachable at 362 feet in left-center field.
But Butler didn’t find umpire Dan Bellino’s strike zone to be tailor-made. Butler questioned a called third strike in the first inning. Butler took two more strikes in the fourth before grounding out to short.
Butler had words with Bellino on his way back to the Royals’ bench on the third-base side. Yost came out onto the field to guide Butler back to the dugout, but Butler threw his helmet into the dugout in frustration. No ejection, though.
Butler went hitless in three at-bats before replaced by Hosmer as part of a double switch in the sixth inning.
Salvy Perez continues to show signs he’s close to returning from the disabled list. He tested the recovery of his left knee Wednesday by catching all nine innings in Omaha’s 13-9 loss to Memphis – after catching a full game Tuesday night.
Perez also went four for four in Wednesday’s game, which raised his average to .340 for 12 rehab games. He required surgery on March 16 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
Right-hander Kyle Smith struck out 11 in five innings Tuesday night while making his pro debut for short-season Idaho Falls in an 11-4 victory over Orem.
Smith, 19, permitted one run and three hits and one walk. He was the club’s fourth-round pick in 2011.
It was 26 years ago Thursday — June 21, 1986 — that the Royals signed their fourth-round draft pick to a three-year contract for $1.066 million that included the then-unprecedented clause of placing him immediately on the 40-man roster.
That was Bo Jackson.
• Kelvin Herrera struck out all four batters he faced after replacing Bruce Chen with two outs in the sixth inning. Herrera now has 37 strikeouts in 372/3 innings. He also has 10 holds in his 32 appearances.
• José Mijares benefited from a scoring change by Major League Baseball. An earned run charged in a June 13 game against Milwaukee is now an unearned run. That lowered his ERA from 2.36 to 2.02.
• The Royals are 13-1 in their last 14 games determined by one or two runs. They are 11-9 overall in one-run games.
• The Royals are 8-7 in interleague play and, by winning this weekend’s home series against the Cardinals, can finish with a winning interleague record for the first time since going 13-5 in 2008.
• The Royals are 9-4 overall and 7-1 on the road in series-deciding games.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.