A minor ailment bothering veteran left-hander Bruce Chen has reconfigured the Royals’ rotation.
With Chen nursing a tight left glute muscle, manager Ned Yost scratched him from his start today at Minute Maid Park.
Yost moved up James Shields to replace Chen and tabbed Jason Vargas to start Friday. Chen will attempt to return to the mound Saturday when the team plays host to Minnesota.
In explaining the machinations, Yost mentioned how both Shields and Vargas were working with an extra day of rest thanks to a steady stream of off-days.
The new schedule “keeps Shields on his regular five days’ (rest),” Yost said. “It keeps Vargas on his regular five days’ (rest). And it gives Bruce a couple of extra days to get through this stiffness.”
The new configuration creates something of a headache for Yost. He does not want Vargas and Chen, a pair of command-centric left-handers, pitching on back-to-back days. He felt it provided a too-similar look to opposing clubs.
Confronted with the dilemma, Yost shrugged. “Nothing I can do about it right now,” he said. He does not think he can rearrange the rotation again until the next off-day, which is April 28.
Chen indicated he had been grappling with the tweak for about a week. He insisted he could have pitched today. But he understood the team’s reasoning.
“I want to help this team in any way I can,” he said. “Right now, it’s early in the season, where I can get this resolved, and it’s out, and I can continue to help the team win.”
He appeared incapable of that this past weekend. In his last start, he could not complete the fourth inning. The Twins tagged him for six runs.
Chen admitted the injury affected his performance.
“The tightness was there,” he said. “So the preparation in between starts wasn’t what we wanted it to be. So that’s why we decided to do a couple of extra days.”Yost uses his bench
For the first time this season, Yost used a pinch hitter. In fact, he did it on consecutive at-bats.
In the eighth inning, Yost inserted Nori Aoki for Danny Valencia, who was starting for Moustakas. Then he used Moustakas for Justin Maxwell, who was starting for Aoki. Moustakas eventually hit the go-ahead home run in the 11th.Challenge goes against Royals
The Royals had the embers of a ninth-inning rally snuffed out by instant replay. Lorenzo Cain appeared to start the frame with an infield single. But Houston manager Bo Porter challenged the call. The umpires overturned the play, and the Royals went quietly.More Omaha depth
The Royals signed right-handed reliever Casey Coleman to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Class AAA Omaha.