Omaha lefty Verdugo, healthy at last, yearns to get back to big leagues
05/31/2014 6:51 PM
06/03/2014 2:23 PM
Class AAA Omaha left-hander Ryan Verdugo is well-aware of his only appearance in the major leagues.
Verdugo gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings in a 9-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium on July 17, 2012.
“It was awesome being up there, but it left a bad taste in my mouth with how I performed,” Verdugo said in a phone interview. “I’d like to get back to there and show I’m a lot more capable than that.”
But the road back to the majors has been strewn with potholes. Verdugo, who was acquired in the disastrous Melky Cabrera/Jonathan Sanchez trade, was the Royals’ pitcher of the year at Omaha (12-4, 3.75 ERA) in 2012.
In 2013, Verdugo had a 3.44 ERA in a nine-game stretch before he suffered a forearm strain. Verdugo had had Tommy John surgery in high school and initially feared the injury had befallen him again.
After returning from the injury, Verdugo bounced from the Rookie Arizona League to Omaha to Class AA Northwest Arkansas and then back to the Storm Chasers, where he pitched in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
Verdugo then went to Mexico for Winter League ball and was 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA — before suffering a hernia injury. But he returned to the Storm Chasers on May 21, and on Thursday gave up two runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings for his first win.
“It seems like luck hasn’t been on my side the last year and a half, but it’s all just part of the game,” Verdugo said. “Now I’m finally healthy and feeling better, and my arm feels really good, probably the best it’s felt in a year or two.”
Verdugo, who said his fastball is up to 91 mph, calls his change-up his best pitch. The Royals are having him work on a breaking ball as well, and that’s coming along.
“Each time I get out there, I’m feeling a little stronger, a little better,” Verdugo said. “Right now, I feel like I’ve done all my rehab and all that stuff to put myself in a position physically and mentally right now if I pitch well, hopefully I’ll get another shot.”
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