Desire for another bullpen lefty results in Royals recalling Will Smith

Updated: 2013-04-22T06:30:53Z


The Kansas City Star

— The decision Saturday morning to reschedule Friday’s postponement as part of a day-night Sunday doubleheader put Will Smith through a wild day of travel.

The Royals recalled Smith, 23, from Class AAA Omaha under the provision that permits clubs temporarily to add a 26th player to their roster for day-night doubleheaders.

The call went to Smith because manager Ned Yost wanted another left-handed arm in the bullpen for the two games against the Red Sox.

“This is a pretty good lefty-matchup lineup if you look at their numbers,” Yost said. “My thought process going into the series was using Timmy (Collins, in the opener), then using Bruce in the second game and having Timmy available for the third game if I needed him.”

The postponement Friday changed everything and prompted a call to Smith to head to Fenway Park in time for Sunday’s twinbill. He was a logical choice: rested and pitching well (1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts).

Smith was already en route to Nashville from Omaha with the Storm Chasers when he learned of the summons while napping at Midway Airport in Chicago and ... well, let him tell it:

“We woke up at 4:50 (a.m.),” he said, “in order to get to the (Omaha) airport ticket counter at 6. Fly out at 7:30. We flew from Omaha to Chicago Midway and had a three-hour layover there.

“I’m taking a nap on the floor. Then Dave (Omaha trainer Dave Iannicca) texted me to come to the food court. That’s where they told me I was going up.”

There was, as he explains, a catch.

“I still had to fly to Nashville with the team to get my bag and everything,” Smith said. “Fly back to Chicago O’Hare for an hour layover. Then from Chicago O’Hare to Boston.

“I didn’t get here until 2 a.m. (Sunday). It was quite the travel schedule. Four flights in one day was a record for me.”

There was still more.

“I got to the hotel at 2 a.m.,” Smith said, “and got stuck in the elevator on the way up. I had to call maintenance to come open the door for me. But it’s all worth it.”

All that and he wasn't even needed in eithe rgame.

The Royals optioned Smith back to Omaha after the doubleheader, which means he’ll return to Nashville, where the Storm Chasers are playing through Tuesday.

First-inning difficulties

Royals starter Ervin Santana once again struggled to find an early groove.

He yielded two runs in the first inning of Sunday’s opener before blanking the Red Sox over the next six innings.

It’s an emerging trend.

Opponents are nine for 17 against Santana in the first inning of his last three starts while scoring four runs, including three earned runs.

Thereafter in 20 innings, opponents are 13 for 69 and have scored one run.

The temperature at first pitch in Santana’s two previous games was 73 degrees and 75 degrees.

Herrera bounces back

Kelvin Herrera’s wild week concluded Sunday evening when he got the victory after pitching two scoreless innings against the Red Sox.

“Herrera is fine,” Yost said. “You just have those days. He came back and got us through two innings. He was throwing great.”

On Saturday, Herrera blew a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning by yielding a three-run homer to Daniel Nava in a 4-3 loss.

That homer, however, prompted no talk of tipping pitches as happened earlier in the week, Herrera and the Royals were convinced that he tipped pitches Tuesday when the Braves hit three homers in a one inning in a 6-3 victory in Atlanta.

Not this this time.

“No, it’s location, location, location,” Yost said. “He’s fine mechanically. He pulled a changeup, and it was (was supposed to be) down and in to Daniel Nava. It’s just location.”

And it was better Sunday night.

Near collision

Left fielder Alex Gordon and center fielder Lorenzo Cain nearly collided while chasing Mike Carp’s one-out fly ball into the left-center gap in the fourth inning of the season game.

Both players peeled off at the last moment, but the ball fell untouched for what was scored a three-base error on Gordon.

“We were both yelling,” Gordon said, “but (Cain) has responsibility. I needed to get out of the way. I need to get out of the way. I needed to look and make sure he’s coming.

“It was one of those in-between balls that we’ve got to clean up. And we will.”

Jeremy Guthrie kept the run from scoring by getting two ground-ball outs.

“The fans here are very loud,” Cain said. “It’s very tough out there to hear. We’re doing our best to communicate out there. We’ve got to continue to talk and get better out there. Obviously, that can’t happen.”

Sherrill activated

Veteran reliever George Sherrill had a rocky outing Saturday for Omaha after returning to action for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 4, 2012, to repair a torn elbow ligament.

Sherrill, 35, threw just 11 of 23 pitches for strikes while allowing two runs on one hit and one walk in two-thirds of an inning in the Storm Chasers’ 11-5 loss at Nashville. He also threw two wild pitches.

The Royals signed Sherrill to a minor-league deal on Dec. 12, 2012 — and re-signed him to a minor-league deal on March 27, two days after releasing him from his previous contract in a procedural move.

Sherrill made just two appearances last year for Seattle before undergoing surgery. He was an All-Star in 2008 while pitching for Baltimore and is 19-17 with a 3.77 ERA in 442 appearances with four clubs over nine years.

Minor details

Results are mixed for two of the organization’s top prospects at Lo-A Lexington: Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi shows signs of emerging from an early slump, but outfielder Bubba Starling continues to scuffle.

Mondesi, 17, had an RBI double Saturday that produced the only run in a 1-0 victory over Greenville. He is eight for 25 in his last seven games, which has his average up to .262 with a .329 on-base percentage.

Starling, 20, went hitless in three at-bats with another strikeout. He is batting .136 with a .203 OBP in 17 games with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats.

Looking back

It was 25 years ago today — April 22, 1988 — that the Royals set a franchise record by opening a game with seven straight hits. It led to a nine-run first inning in a 13-1 victory over Baltimore at then-Royals Stadium.

The first six hits, all singles, came against Orioles starter Mike Morgan, by Willie Wilson, Kevin Seitzer, George Brett, Danny Tartabull, Jim Eisenreich and Frank White. That produced four runs.

The Orioles then summoned Dave Schmidt, who yielded an RBI single to Bo Jackson before retiring Mike Macfarlane on a grounder to the mound. But Kurt Stillwell and Wilson followed with triples. Wilson scored on an error by Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken for a 9-0 lead. The loss dropped the Orioles to 0-16; their skid would reach 21 games before they beat the White Sox.


• Greg Holland became the first Royals’ pitcher to save both ends of a doubleheader since Roberto Hernandez on July 15, 2002 against Texas.

• The Royals became the first team this season to score more than three runs against a Boston starter when they got four in the opener against Ryan Dempster.

• Santana is the first opposing starter to hold the Red Sox to two runs or less without issuing a walk since Tampa Bay’s David Price on Sept. 25, 2012.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to Follow his updates at

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