The Royals’ 11-man bullpen lasted all of three games. To add depth to the unit, the team selected the contract of right-hander Aaron Brooks, who will be available to aid the club until reliever Louis Coleman returns from a bone bruise in his right middle finger.
The club hopes Coleman will be ready by next week. He is eligible to return from the disabled list on April 8. Yost felt handcuffed forced to continually utilize middle relievers, this early in the year.
"I’m at 11 pitchers," he said. "I used four or five guys yesterday. Now, I can use these guys two and three days in a row, as long as we have a lead. If we don’t have a lead, it’s senseless to use these guys to get through innings. So I needed that 12th guy to suck up innings."
To make room on the roster, the Royals designated utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco for assignment. The team kept Ciriaco as insurance for second baseman Omar Infante, who missed time during spring training because of a bone spur in his right elbow. Yost views Infante as an everyday player.
The team has 10 days to use one of three options with Ciriaco: They can trade him, release him or place him on waivers (after a seven-day waiting period). The team does not plan to just cut him loose, Yost said.
So, why Brooks? He has never pitched above Class AA. He was slated to make his Class AAA debut on Saturday. A quirk of the rulebook precipitated his call-up.
MLB rules prevented the team from adding a player on the 40-man roster to the big-league club. The team needs to allow 10 days to honor the minor-league options exercised on those players to begin the season.
So, again, why Brooks? His control appealed to Yost. In 393 1/3 minor-league innings, Brooks walks 1.3 batters per nine.
"The thing that I liked about him in spring training is that he had pitchability," Yost said. "He threw strikes. He wasn’t overwhelmed by the situation in his first big-league spring training.
"You know, I’ve got to have somebody that can throw strikes. I can’t have a guy come up, and if I get in a bind and need him to throw four innings, I can’t have him be at 70 pitches after three. I’ve got to have a guy that throws strikes."