Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy went on the 10-day disabled list with hamstring injury on Friday, but the Royals didn’t necessarily replace him with another starter.
Miguel Almonte — who was called up by the Royals on Friday — has started four games in five appearances for Class AA Northwest Arkansas this season and has pitched well with a 1.85 ERA, and 29 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Friday the club may not want to wait until next Tuesday at Tampa Bay, Kennedy’s next scheduled start, to use Almonte.
“He could be (Tuesday’s starter), but I doubt it,” Yost said. “We’ve got a number of options.”
The option Yost is leaning toward at the moment is Chris Young, whose seven appearances this season have been out of the bullpen.
“If we need to use Almonte, we’ll use him here in the pen,” Yost said.
Almonte said he’s ready for any assignment. He’s back in the major leagues after a nine-game stint in 2015.
Once considered one of the organization’s fastest risers and promising starting pitching prospects, Almonte scuffled last season. He made 12 starts in 21 appearances at Class AAA Omaha with a 5.55 ERA, and all 11 of his appearances for Northwest Arkansas were out of the pen.
But Almonte’s start this season was encouraging enough that when Kennedy went on the DL, Yost said he asked general manager Dayton Moore for the best available right-handed arm. Almonte got the call.
“I focused on my mechanics and things have been going pretty good,” Almonte said through Royals coach Pedro Grifol, who interpreted the interview.
One noticeable change: Almonte has pitched more from the stretch this season and “feels more comfortable,” he said.
Almonte said he has no preference as a starter or reliever.
“Wherever they put me is fine with me,” Almonte said. “It’s not my decision. I’m going to do the job wherever they put me.”
Kennedy is unaccustomed to missing starts. He’s an iron man who has made at least 30 starts in each of the past eight seasons, and was off to a solid start in 2017.
He got roughed up on Thursday against the White Sox when he injured his hamstring, leaving the game after 4 1/3 innings, and fell to 0-3 on the season. But his ERA stands at 3.03 and WHIP (walks and hits divided by innings pitched) at 1.065. His MRI revealed a Grade-1 strain of the hamstring.
“It’s a lot of miles, a lot of innings on one body,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully, I can throw a lot more.”