Following days of dancing around the subject, manager Ned Yost at last revealed the Royals’ selection to replace Yordano Ventura on Saturday: Aaron Brooks, the 24-year-old right-hander.
The team chose Brooks over other options like Sugar Ray Marimon. Brooks posted a 3.12 ERA for Class AAA Omaha. He gave up six runs in a two-inning cameo with the big-league club in April.
“He’s been throwing good,” Yost said. “A kid that’s not afraid. Throws strikes. Commands the ball. A simple decision.”
The team still insists Ventura will only miss one start due to his elbow injury. He left his start on Monday with a valgus extension overload, which the team categorized as a minor discomfort. An MRI revealed no damage to Ventura’s ulnar collateral ligament.
Ventura played catch on Friday. Pitching coach Dave Eiland etched out a tentative schedule for the coming days: Ventura will throw a light bullpen session on Saturday, and his regularly scheduled session on Monday.
“He’s fine,” Eiland said. “He feels fine.”
More than a month after he last pitched in a game, veteran Bruce Chen is finally preparing to leave the club on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment.
Chen (bulging disk in lower back) is expected to head to the minors after a bullpen session on Sunday. He threw a pair of 15-pitch simulated innings against live batters on Friday afternoon.
Yost continues to play coy about Chen’s role upon his return. “Let him come back first,” Yost said. “Then we’ll decide.”
Chen could slot into the bullpen, which is in need of a left-handed upgrade over Tim Collins. But Chen also acts as insurance for Ventura, or for Danny Duffy, who has struggled in his last two outings.
The team still intends to stretch Chen (1-2, 7.45) out as a starter. He should throw about 45 pitches in his first rehab appearance. He can accumulate 90 to 100 by his third start.
His competition on Friday included backups Brett Hayes and Jimmy Paredes, plus pitchers James Shields and Danny Duffy.
“He humbled Duffy,” Yost said. “Duffy thought he was a good hitter. Until he faced Bruce. He walked out a little defeated.”
After five days off, resting his injured left hand, Danny Valencia returned to the lineup on Friday. He tested his readiness the day before during batting practice.
“I still have some pain, obviously,” Valencia said. “But it feels good enough to play. At this time of the year, everybody is playing through stuff. I’ll be the same way.”