Two days after weathering a Class AAA pounding, Royals pitcher Bruce Chen conceded he is not yet ready for big-league action, and said he was scheduled to make his third rehabilitation start on Friday with Omaha.
“This one coming up is going to be very important for me, to fine-tune all my pitches,” Chen said on Tuesday afternoon, before his teammates began a two-game series against Cleveland.
Chen, who has a bulging disk in his lower back, indicated he is set to throw about 75 pitches. He managed 56 in a four-inning stint on Sunday. Oklahoma City pounded him for four runs on 10 hits.
Seeking a left-handed reliever for this set with the Indians, the Royals did not consider Chen, manager Ned Yost said. In part, this was because the team needs to stretch him out to work as a starter in case of an injury to the rotation. But Chen has also yet to shake the rust caused by his lengthy layoff, having not pitched in a big-league game since April 24.
Chen insisted his back felt fine during his two minor-league appearances. He is still working on refining his command.
“The best thing I can do is just try to get better every time I go out there,” Chen said. “And give my body the innings and the pitches and the stamina. So whenever I’m actually ready to be here I can contribute. And not like ‘We don’t know how many pitches he can go?’ Or ‘How is he going to respond?’”
Aoki gets a rest
Yost indicated two reasons for starting Jarrod Dyson over Nori Aoki on Tuesday. The first was Dyson managed a pair of hits the last time the Royals faced Indians starter Corey Kluber. The second was Yost felt Aoki, his 32-year-old right fielder, could benefit from an extra day of rest after Monday’s rainout.
“It’s hard to pick spots for Nori to give him days off,” Yost said. “Because he hits lefties so well. This was a day where Dyson had good matchup numbers, so we went with it.”
Ventura stays on schedule
“For a split second,” Yost said, he considered skipping starter Yordano Ventura after Monday’s rainout. But he decided against it. Yost had skipped Ventura after rain cancelled a game during the season’s first week.