So this is how a club responds when it finds itself in a postseason chase in early September.
The Royals added six players to their roster prior to Tuesday’s game against Seattle, including four from Class AAA Omaha, which opens the Pacific Coast League playoffs Wednesday night at Oklahoma City.
The Royals, as expected, recalled right-handed pitchers Louis Coleman and Wade Davis from Hi-A Wilmington. Both were optioned last week to the Blue Rocks in anticipation of a quick return.
But the Royals also promoted four Omaha players — recalling second baseman Johnny Giavotella and lefty reliever Donnie Joseph, and selecting the contracts of first baseman Carlos Pena and infielder Pedro Ciriaco.
“It gives us the depth we need to try to take advantage of every matchup,” manager Ned Yost said. “These are guys off the bench. We’re trying to increase our bench strength.”
To clear space for Pena and Ciriaco on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated minor-league infielder Edinson Rincon for assignment and transferred left-handed pitcher Noel Arguelles to the 60-day disabled list.
The six additions boost the Royals’ big-league roster to 33 players. They promoted catcher Brett Hayes and lefty reliever Francisley Bueno prior to Sunday’s game in Toronto.
The Royals, 71-66, entered Tuesday trailing Tampa Bay by 41/2 games in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. The Royals are pursuing their first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series.
Yost said the additions permit stacking left-handed or right-handed hitters in the lineup without worrying about late-game match-ups. Tuesday’s lineup started with three lefty hitters: Alex Gordon, Chris Getz and Eric Hosmer.
“I’ve got a bench where I can pinch-hit,” Yost said. “If they bring in a tough lefty (reliever), I’ve got Giavotella and (Jamey) Carroll who can hit (for Getz).
“I’ve got two lefties at the bottom (David Lough and Jarrod Dyson), but I’ve got (Brett) Hayes or Carroll or Giavotella who can hit down there. I’ve got options.”
The additions eased Yost’s concerns of using Hosmer as the designated hitter while playing Billy Butler, the usual DH, at first base.
“Having Pena gives us the opportunity to do what we’re doing today — let Hos DH and have Billy start at first,” Yost said. “We’ve got a defensive replacement (at first in Pena) if we need it later in the game.”
Major league rules permit clubs to expand their active rosters from 25 players to a maximum for 40 from Sept. 1 through the remainder of the season.
Coleman and Davis were optioned Aug. 28 to Wilmington but were able to return ahead of the 10-day required minimum stay because the Blue Rocks’ season concluded Monday.
Giavotella and Joseph spent most of the season at Omaha but played briefly earlier this year for the Royals. Ciriaco arrived in a July 16 waiver claim from San Diego; Pena signed a minor-league deal on Aug. 27.
Joseph, 25, worked 31/3 scoreless innings over three big-league appearances. He was 4-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 47 games at Omaha.
Giavotella, 26, was seven for 34 in 10 big-league games and batted .286 with seven homers and 46 RBIs in 100 games at Omaha.
Ciriaco, 27, batted .228 earlier this season in 51 games for San Diego before joining the Royals and batting .281 in 43 games at Omaha.
Pena, 35, batted .209 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 85 games at Houston prior to his July 31 release. He was six for 18 with two homers and six RBIs in five games after joining Omaha.