The Royals recalled right-hander Jake Junis from Class AAA Omaha on Sunday morning, the first in a series of roster moves as the club prepared for a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Junis, 24, will make his first major-league start in the first game of the doubleheader. To create room on the roster, the Royals designated reliever Al Alburquerque for assignment.
The Royals also summoned infielder Raul Mondesi from Class AAA Omaha and right-handed pitcher Miguel Almonte from Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Mondesi was scheduled to be activated following the first game as left fielder Alex Gordon returns home for three days of paternity leave. Almonte was poised to join the roster as the club’s 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader. Under the current collective-bargaining agreement, teams are allowed to add an extra player for the second game of a doubleheader.
Right-hander Jason Hammel was originally scheduled to start on Sunday. But the scheduling of a doubleheader, in addition to injury questions surrounding starter Nathan Karns, forced the Royals to shift their rotation. If Hammel and Ian Kennedy both started on Sunday, the Royals would have required an extra starter during a four-game series against the New York Yankees.
The Royals opted for Junis instead of veteran Chris Young, who made two spot starts while Kennedy was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
“He throws strikes,” Yost said of Junis. “He’s a good young pitcher. Giving him some experience up here at this level is important.”
Junis has posted a 3.07 ERA in five starts for Class AAA Omaha. He has also logged two scoreless innings of relief for the Royals in two stings in the major leagues. He earned his first career win in relief on May 9 in Tampa Bay.
“We looked at a bunch of different scenarios yesterday and this was the one that probably put us in the best shape,” Yost said.
Kennedy was also slated to be activated from the disabled list Sunday as he prepared to start the second game of the doubleheader. The Royals must make a corresponding roster move to clear space for Kennedy.
Among the possibilities: Junis could be optioned back to Class AAA Omaha following the first game. The Royals were also mulling a 10-day disabled-list stint for starting pitcher Nathan Karns, who experienced stiffness in the top of his forearm during a start here on Friday.
Karns underwent a battery of tests on the forearm on Saturday. Yost said the tests revealed tightness and fluid near his elbow, but there was no strain of the forearm muscle.