Aaron Crow found himself bound for the minors on Wednesday due to a procedural quirk. As the Royals scanned their roster, searching for a way to activate spot starter Liam Hendriks, they settled on Crow because he was one of few relievers still in possession of minor-league options.
Crow, the 27-year-old former All-Star, packed his bags for Class AA Northwest Arkansas a few hours before Hendriks started against the Twins. Crow was sent to Class AA so he can rejoin the big-league club on Tuesday. If he was sent to Class AAA Omaha, he would be required to spend 10 days with the club, which looks bound for the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
The organization scheduled Crow, 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA, to pitch two innings on Thursday and another tune-up inning on Sunday. Then he will be back. Crow expressed a combination of disappointment and acceptance.
“It kind of sucks if it has to be you,” Crow said. “But realistically, it’s probably going to be a reliever, and the only other guys with options are Greg (Holland) and Kelvin (Herrera). You’re not going to send those two guys down. And I’m the only one left.”
He has also made himself far from indispensable. Crow would still be eligible for the postseason roster — “We wouldn’t this if he wouldn’t be,” manager Ned Yost said — but his big-league utility has been questionable recently.
During the past two months, opposing hitters punched up a 1.011 on-base plus slugging percentage against Crow. He posted a 6.48 ERA during those 21 appearances. He is striking out a career-worst 5.1 batters per nine. Part of his trouble may stem from mechanical glitches, which have caused poor location and diminished fastball velocity.
Since arriving in the majors in 2011, Crow hummed a fastball that averaged 94.2 mph, according to FanGraphs. His heater averaged 92 mph in 2014.
“My arm feels fine,” Crow said. “My back and legs feel fine. There’s no one area to pinpoint where it could be coming from. The mechanics have been off, the timing off, just a little bit.”
Crow still believes he can contribute during the season’s final month. But he will head to the minors for a few days, regardless.
“It’s understandable,” Crow said. “So hopefully it’s a quick couple days, and I’ll be back here. And everything is just the same as it is today.”
Infante could return on Friday
Christian Colon started at second base again on Wednesday as starter Omar Infante rested his sore right shoulder. The team hopes Infante can rejoin the starting lineup on Friday against the Indians.
Downs prepping for weekend
Another addition for that series with Cleveland is expected to be left-handed reliever Scott Downs. The team hopes Downs can offset the Indians’ slate of left-handed hitters.
The only left-handers in the bullpen currently are Francisley Bueno and Bruce Chen. Yost does not view Bueno as a matchup specialist against left-handed hitters. Chen is rarely used, and saved for emergency situations.