The Royals’ ongoing demand for fresh bullpen arms forced another roster move on Saturday morning.
By RUSTIN DODD and BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Left-handed reliever Francisley Bueno was promoted from Class AAA Omaha, replacing right-hander Roman Colon, who was designated for assignment. The move came just one day after Colon came on in relief of an ineffective Vin Mazzaro and allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in an 11-4 loss.
Bueno, 31, was signed as a minor-league free agent last November after spending 2011 in the Mexican League. A Cuban defector who grew up with Royals catcher Brayan Pena in Havana, Bueno hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since making one appearance for the Braves against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 13, 2008.
The appearance was memorable. Bueno was ejected after brushing back Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano – just innings after Soriano overzealously celebrated a deep drive to the wall. Bueno was suspended three games but hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since. As a result, the Royals have appealed the suspension, allowing Bueno to pitch until the case is heard.
“I feel pretty good,” Bueno said as Pena translated. “I was working hard for that reason, to come back to the big leagues, and it really pay off.”
It did not take long for Bueno to be needed. He yielded one run and two hits on Saturday while working the sixth inning in a loss to St. Louis.
Bueno, who is also the godfather to Pena’s son, had posted a 2.85 ERA in 41 innings over 25 games for Omaha.
“He came into spring training, made a very good impression,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “(He) went to Triple-A and has done very well. He’s earned it.”
Colon, meanwhile, is out of options and the Royals will have 10 days to trade him, place him on waivers or grant him his outright release. If another team claims him off waivers, he would have to go straight on its 40-man roster. If he clears waivers, the Royals can assign him to a minor-league affiliate for his previous minor-league salary.
Adding Bueno doesn't fill the Royals' need for a long reliever, which suggests another move is likely in the next day or two with left-hander Everett Teaford looming as the leading candidate.
Teaford, 28, pitched six scoreless innings Thursday for Class AAA Omaha against Memphis and has allowed just two runs in 16 innings over four appearances since returning in mid-May to the Storm Chasers. He also provides the flexibility to serve as a starter or a long reliever.
The Royals could choose to put Teaford into the rotation by shifting Vin Mazzaro or Luis Mendoza to long relief. Mazzaro allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings in Friday's 11-4 loss to the Cardinals, and club officials generally view Mendoza as a better fit in long relief.
Praise for Perez
During a 13-year playing career, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny won four Gold Gloves behind the plate and developed a reputation as one of the most respected catchers in the major leagues.
Simply put, he’s a man who knows the craft, and he did not hesitate to compliment the play of Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who made his season debut on Friday after missing nearly three months with a knee injury.
“Receiving the ball, watching his footwork and his movements behind the plate,” Matheny said, “he looks like he’s gonna be pretty good.”
Perez finished two for four with a two-run homer in an 11-3 loss on Friday. He was out of the lineup on Saturday, but Yost said he would likely be back in Sunday and Monday before another day off on Tuesday.
“He looks like he’s working hard back there,” Matheny said, “blocking the ball well, receives (the ball) well, he’s moving around. It looks like he’s got a good defensive mind back there.”
Former KU left-hander Sam Freeman is enjoying his rapid rise through the Cardinals organization. Freeman, who pitched one season for Kansas in 2008, has posted a 5.40 ERA in 8 1/3 innings over nine appearances since making his major-league debut against the New York Mets on June 1. Those numbers include a scoreless inning against the Royals on Friday.
Freeman arrived at KU after transferring from North Central Texas College. He went 4-1 in 13 games while posting an 8.53 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.
Selected by the Cardinals in the 32nd round in 2008, Freeman faced long odds to move through the system. But Freeman says those odds never bothered him much, even after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 before splitting time at high-Class A and Class AA in 2011.
“As far as like the round and stuff, I never really paid attention,” said Freeman, who will celebrate his 25th birthday on Sunday. “I never looked at it like, ‘I can’t make it because I was a late-round pick’. That never really made sense. I just had the mindset, either way, you have to show you can play.”
To reach Rustin Dodd, send email to email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/rustindodd.