Veteran right-hander J.C. Gutierrez became the odd-man out Sunday in the Royals’ latest bullpen shuffle when he was designated for assignment prior to the series finale against Cleveland.
The move came on his 30th birthday.
“It makes it all the (harder),” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s the `fun’ part of the job.”
The Royals needed to make a move to clear space for Wade Davis’ return from paternity leave. Davis will not actually rejoin the club until after the All-Star break, but paternity leave is limited to 72 hours.
Davis’ wife, Katelyn, gave birth late Friday to the couple’s first child, a healthy girl.
The Royals chose to designate Gutierrez, a middle reliever, in order to keep two just-promoted relievers, lefty Everett Teaford and side-arming righty Louis Coleman, on their roster.
Coleman has worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in three outings since his July 8 recall from Class AAA Omaha. That included a one-inning appearance in Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the Indians.
Teaford pitched two-thirds of an inning Sunday after arriving Saturday from Omaha to replace lefty Donnie Joseph, who was optioned back to the same club after pitching the two previous games..
“We wanted to keep Teaford (for Sunday’s game),” Yost said. “We were going to send him back (to Omaha) if we had used him (Saturday), but we didn’t use him (Saturday).
“So this gives us protection against (Cleveland’s) predominantly left-handed lineup. And we like what Coleman’s done.”
Gutierrez was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 29 1/3 innings over 25 appearances. A closer in 2010 at Arizona, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 before signing that December with the Royals a a minor-league free agent.
Rehab work limited Gutierrez to 19 minor-league appearances in 2012 -- and he allowed 24 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings. Even so, the Royals re-signed him last September to another minor-league deal.
Gutierrez then compiled an 0.81 ERA in 24 appearances for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League, which prompted the Royals to add him to their big-league roster.
“He would take the ball when we needed him to and buy big innings for us,” Yost said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him because he’s not a mop-up pitcher. He’s a real professional.”
By designating Gutierrez for assignment, the Royals have 10 days to reach a resolution. A trade is possible because several clubs are seeking bullpen help. Club officials believe Gutierrez is unlikely to clear waivers.
“Gutie is going to get picked up,” Yost predicted. “I don’t see him getting through waivers with that arm.”
Out of the break
Ervin Santana will start Friday against first-place Detroit when the Royals return from the four-day break for the All-Star Game.
That represents a change in thinking by Yost, who had previously planned to use his ace, James Shields, on normal rest to open the key three-game weekend series at Kauffman Stadium.
The revised rotation has Jeremy Guthrie following Santana with Shields pitching on Sunday. Davis and Bruce Chen will then pitch the first two games next week against Baltimore.
The switch means Santana and Guthrie will have less of an extended rest between starts. It also enables the Royals to still use their top three starters against the Tigers.
“I (originally) had Shields coming back on a five (his fifth day),” Yost said. “That would mean Santana on a nine, Guthrie on a nine. I just decided that’s crazy.
“We manipulated it this way to give everybody (a near) equal amount of off-days. Santana now goes to an eight, Guthrie goes to a seven and Shields goes to a seven.”
That doesn’t apply to Davis and Chen, who will be starting on their 12th and 11th days.
The Tigers’ scheduled starters for next weekend’s series are Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister.
Leather by Gio
It’s a small sample size, but second baseman Johnny Giavotella, long viewed as a defensive liability, has a plus defensive rating in one of the key defensive metrics -- the Fielding Bible’s plus-minus system.
Giavotella was plus-one -- i.e., one run saved above that expected from an average defensive player -- through 73 innings over nine games since arriving June 30 from Class AAA Omaha.
Some perspective: Giavotella was an overall minus-2 for 385 1/3 innings in 2011 and a minus-3 for 376 2/3 innings in 2012.
Giavotella returned Sunday to the lineup after missing two games because of a sore hip. He was zero for two, but had a walk and was hit by a pitch in four plate appearances.
A Royal legacy
The son of Lo-A Lexington manager Brian Buchanan, Walker Buchanan, will participate Monday in the Pitch, Hit and Run competition before the Home Run Derby at Citi Field as part of the All-Star festivities.
The competition will begin at 2 p.m. Central.
Walker Buchanan is one of three boys to make the finals of the 7- and 8-year-old division. More than 600,000 kids participated in more than 4,000 competitions to make it this far.
Right-hander Kelvin Herrera continued his push Saturday for a recall to the big-league bullpen by working two scoreless innings for a save in Omaha’s 2-0 victory over Round Rock.
Herrera didn’t allow a hit and struck out three after Justin Marks pitched the first seven innings. Herrera has 10 1/3 scoreless innings in his last four outings while striking out 14 and permitting just two hits and two walks.
It was 27 years ago Monday -- July 15, 1986 -- that Royals manager Dick Howser directed the American League to a 3-2 victory over the National League at Astrodome in Houston.
Frank White’s homer in the seventh inning provided the winning run.
Howser was diagnosed later that week with a brain tumor that would claim his life less than a year later.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.