BALTIMORE — Aaron Crow likes life in the bullpen but is open to another spring audition in the Royals’ rotation should club officials again choose to pursue that possibility.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
“It’s doesn’t matter,” Crow said. “Just as long as I don’t go to Triple-A. The roles are different. I wouldn’t be throwing as hard as a starter, and I’d probably have more run on my fastball. I’d probably have more sink.
“But I’d need to get my changeup or curveball to be more consistent if I was a starter. That would be the biggest thing.”
Manager Ned Yost acknowledged the Royals are already discussing which relievers could possibly make the switch next season to the rotation. Possibilities include Everett Teaford, who has started in the past, but also Crow, Kelvin Herrera and Tim Collins.
“We’re talking about all of our options,” Yost said. “We’re looking at different ideas. We’re trying to figure out who has the skill set, who has the stamina, who has the mechanics, and who has the pitches who might be able to do it.
“We’re not anywhere near making any decisions on any of that stuff. We’re just looking and trying to think through everything.”
Herrera was starter in the minors through 2010 before forearm problems prompted a switch to the bullpen. Even he isn’t sure how his arm would respond to returning to starting duties.
“Ever since they moved me they moved me to the bullpen,” Herrera said, “I haven’t thrown more than two innings. So I really don’t know how to answer that.”
Collins has never been a starter in his six pro seasons but, Yost said, “has three major-league pitches that are average or above-average that he throws for strikes.”
Other than Teaford, who made four starts earlier this season, Crow seems the likeliest candidate to shift from the relief corps to the rotation.
Viewed as a cornerstone of future rotations when picked in the first round of the 2009 draft, Crow shifted last year to the bullpen as an acclimation step to big-league duty. He responded by making the All-Star team.
Even so, the Royals tried Crow as a starter this year in spring training before choosing to return him to the bullpen after closer Joakim Soria suffered a season-ending elbow injury.
“I think (Crow) probably, right now, projects better as a reliever,” Yost said. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t look at him as a starter. We’re looking at everything, but we have to see what happens over the winter.
“What if we get two (new) pitchers? What if we get no pitchers? What if we get four pitchers? Again, it’s all talk right now.”
Outfielder Jarrod Dyson spent much of the day undergoing treatment for a sprained left ankle suffered in Friday’s 7-1 loss. While available if needed, Dyson is unlikely to play before Tuesday’s series opener against Oakland at Kauffman Stadium.
“If they need me,” he said, “I can get in there. They just want to take some time and not have me aggravate it.”
Dyson rolled his ankle after his cleats caught on a swing while leading off the eighth inning against Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Dyson drove the ball over the head of center fielder Adam Jones but was only able to limp as far as first base.
Normally, Dyson’s speed would enable him to get a triple on such a play.
“Think I wasn’t mad?” he asked. “Shoot … .”
Dyson initially remained in the game, but he did not return to the field in the bottom of the inning after Yost noticed him limping to the dugout after Alex Gordon grounded into a double play.
“I’m just not going to push him,” Yost said, “with a Sunday day game and an off-day Monday. I’ll try to rest him through the off-day.”
Zeroes by Zimmer
Right-hander Kyle Zimmer flashed the form Friday that has Royals’ officials believing their first-round pick in June can fast-track his way through the minors. Zimmer struck out 10 in 6 2/3 scoreless innings for Class A Kane County in a 5-0 victory at Clinton.
“Yeah, I think that was (my best pro start),” Zimmer told MiLB.com. “I think my command of all my pitches was there, I was hitting spots and getting ahead of guys.
“I was attacking early with the fastball, keeping it down in the zone and getting ahead with that. Then my off-speed stuff — my curve, changeup and slider — were all also working. I felt good. It was a good night.”
Zimmer, 20, allowed three hits — all singles — and didn’t walk a batter. It was the longest outing of his seven-start career, which began with three games at Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League before a promotion to Kane County.
He has allowed more than one run in just one start. Zimmer has a 3.04 ERA in seven starts while striking out 36 and walking just five in 262/3 innings.
Club officials are breathing easier after learning Class AA Northwest Arkansas right-hander Yordano Ventura’s hand problem is a minor carpal tunnel issue. Ventura hasn’t pitched since leaving a July 30 game against Springfield in the second inning.
General manager Dayton Moore said Ventura should be ready soon to return to game action. Ventura, 21, started for the World team last month in the All-Star Futures Game and is regarded as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects.
He has a 3.78 ERA in 20 starts at Northwest Arkansas and Class A Wilmington while allowing only 82 hits in 951/3 innings. He also has 115 strikeouts and 38 walks.
It was 41 years ago Sunday — Aug. 12, 1971 — that the Royals set a club record that still stands by holding opponents scoreless for 24 consecutive innings.
The streak ended in the fourth inning of the second game of a double-header at Washington (the year before the Senators moved to Texas and became the Rangers). Roger Nelson surrendered an RBI single to Jeff Burroughs.
The streak began Aug. 10 when Mike Hedlund and Ted Abernathy held the Senators scoreless for the final eight innings of a 3-1 victory. Paul Splittorff pitched a five-inning shutout on Aug. 11 in a 1-0 victory in a rain-shortened game.
Ken Wright and Tom Burgmeier combined on a shutout in 2-0 victory in the first game of the Aug. 12 double-header. The manager of those Senators teams was one of the greatest hitters of all-time: Ted Williams.