Chen relishing chance to rejoin rotation

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07/16/2013 12:45 PM

05/16/2014 9:43 AM

Veteran lefty Bruce Chen is already running Cleveland’s projected lineup through his head as he prepares for his return Friday to the Royals’ rotation.

“That’s part of the game I missed,” he admitted. “When you’re in the bullpen, you can’t put that much stuff in your head. You just want to know the basics, and then be ready to go attack them.

“You know you’re only going to face these guys once or twice. But now, I want to be ready to face them at least three times. So you need to know what other pitches you need against certain hitters.”

Manager Ned Yost announced Monday that Chen, after serving all season as the bullpen’s long reliever, will replace struggling Luis Mendoza in the rotation.

Yost cited a rested Chen — just 33 2/3 innings so far — as a potential benefit in coming weeks.

“Bruce is completely fresh,” Yost said, “and, now, hopefully he stays completely strong in the second half.”

Chen agrees up to a point.

“I feel good,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t have the innings that the other starters have. I do feel good. I see some of my teammates, and they’re achy from the wear and tear of the season.

“It’s been hard for them because I feel the starters have not had a break. But I’m feeling good. It’s not that I’m rested, but I don’t have 110 innings. I feel I can help this team.”

It’s not as if Chen seemed to wear down in previous seasons. He is a combined 18-11 with a 3.71 ERA in 36 post-Aug. 1 starts over the previous three years.

“Usually, toward the end of the season,” he said, “I have my best games. I don’t know if that’s because I throw so much that my command gets better. I don’t know why. I just feel better.”

Lough on tour

Monday was David Lough’s first game at Yankee Stadium and, after getting two hits in the Royals’ 5-1 victory, initially shrugged off the idea that the place possesses any special aura.

“I really didn’t get the jitters or anything like that,” he said. “It’s just another park. You just go play every day. You can’t let that stuff get to you.”

Lough then paused before adding sheepishly.

“But look at me,” he said. “I’m going to Monument Park to check it out. So, obviously, it’s something that I think about.”

Numbers crunching

The Royals’ season-long offensive struggles have been well-documented. They entered Tuesday’s game averaging 4.07 runs per game, which ranked 11th among the 15 American League clubs.

But this stat from Bill Chuck of

BaseballAnalytics.org

might surprise you: The Royals been held to fewer than two runs on just 13 occasions.

That “just” is justified because only four AL clubs are better: Baltimore (seven), Boston and Detroit (10) and Texas (12).

The Yankees, for comparison purposes, have failed to score more than two runs on 17 occasions. Only Houston, at 18, is worse among AL clubs.

Birthday wishes

Wednesday is a big day for birthdays in the Royals’ family, starting with former DH and manager Hal McRae, a 1989 inductee into their Hall of Fame. He turns 59.

Also marking the occasion: second baseman Johnny Giavotella (26), left-hander Will Smith (24) and left-handed prospect John Lamb (23).

Minor details

Add right-hander Bryan Brickhouse to the Royals’ list of Tommy John victims. He recently underwent the procedure, which replaces an elbow ligament.

Brickhouse, 21, was the club’s third-round pick in the 2011 draft and entered the season ranked by

Baseball America

as the organization’s No. 17 prospect.

That ranking was based largely on potential, but Brickhouse showed signs this season of blossoming. He was 4-4 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts at Lo-A Lexington when his elbow blew out.

The recovery period for Tommy John surgery is typically about one year. Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are currently working their way back from the procedure.

The Royals released three minor-league players: right-hander Edwin Carl (from Class AA Northwest Arkansas) and catcher Josiah Atkins and right-hander Jesu Ortiz (Rookie Surprise). Carl, 24, had 237 strikeouts in 203 innings in 92 career appearances, but he also had 5.60 ERA this year in 25 games at Northwest Arkansas.

Looking back

It was 23 years ago Wednesday — July 10, 1990 — that Bret Saberhagen was the winning pitcher in the American League’s 2-0 victory over the National League in the All-Star Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Saberhagen worked two innings — the fifth and sixth — and became the pitcher of record when Julio Franco (then with the Rangers) drove in the game’s only runs with a double in the seventh inning.

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