Left-hander Will Smith is returning to the Royals for the second time in eight days under the 26th-man rule and, this time, he’s slotted for action.
The Royals plan to recall Smith from Class AAA Omaha before Sunday’s day-night doubleheader — and then start him in the second game against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
“He was excellent in spring training, and he’s been throwing great down there in Triple-A,” manager Ned Yost said. “He’s ready for it.”
A rule in the latest labor agreement, which went into effect last season, permits clubs to recall an additional player for scheduled day-night doubleheaders.
Smith, 23, served that role last Sunday for two games in Boston but did not appear in either game before being optioned back to Omaha. He is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts for the Storm Chasers.
The circumstances changed this time because the Royals need another starting pitcher to avoid using someone this week on shortened rest.
“I can use Bruce (Chen) or Hoch (Luke Hochevar), but they’re not built up,” Yost said. “So we’ll take advantage of the 26th man.
“Will Smith pitched against (Cleveland) three times last year and threw very well against them twice. It takes us out of the jam on Wednesday.”
Jeremy Guthrie will start against Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson in the 1:10 p.m. game today before Smith pitches at 7:10 p.m. against right-hander Corey Kluber.
Luis Mendoza shifts to Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay, which permits Ervin Santana, who started Saturday against the Indians, to pitch Thursday’s series finale against Tampa Bay on normal rest.
Smith beat the Indians for his first career victory by pitching six innings on May 29, 2012 at Kauffman Stadium. He beat them again on Sept. 22 at home victory before losing six days later in Cleveland.
The rainout Friday night was rescheduled for Sunday as the back end of a day-night doubleheader. The Royals say fans who had tickets to Friday’s game can redeem them only for the night game. The gates are scheduled to re-open for the second game at 6 p.m.
It is the first day-night home doubleheader in Royals history — and, technically, it isn’t really a doubleheader, i.e., Major League Baseball does not recognize it as a doubleheader for the purposes of its record book.
The distinction between Sunday’s two games and an actual doubleheader is the park is cleared between games of a day-night doubleheader to enable separate admission charges.
The Royals have played numerous day-night doubleheaders on the road in recent years, including last Sunday in Boston after a city-wide manhunt for the Marathon bomber forced postponement of the April 19 opener.
The games Sunday will start at 1:10 p.m., as previously scheduled, and tentatively at 7:10 p.m. The gates are scheduled to re-open for the second game at 6 p.m.
The postponed game Friday was a Buck Night, but that promotion will not be offered for Sunday night’s game.
There will be no Sprint Fun Run, which typically follows Sunday afternoon games, because of the need for the grounds crew to prepare the field for the second game. To compensate, the Royals will open the Outfield Experience at no charge for all children.
Fans coming to the second game are encouraged not to arrive prior to 5 p.m. because of the need to empty the parking lot.
The afternoon game Sunday will be televised by Fox Sports Kansas City, as previously scheduled, but the night game will be available only on the Royals Radio Network, which includes KCSP (610 AM) in Kansas City.
ESPN has exclusivity for Sunday night telecasts under terms of its contract with Major League Baseball. The telecast of any other game in any market is not allowed without ESPN’s consent.
FSKC was able to televise both games of last Sunday’s day-night doubleheader at Boston because ESPN granted a waiver due to the circumstances surrounding the city’s hunt for the Marathon bomber.
Pitchers Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino each continued their recovery from Tommy John surgery with another mound effort.
Duffy threw 20 pitches in an extended spring-training game in Arizona, while Paulino threw 25 pitches in another round of live batting practice. It was the second outing for both at that stage of their recovery.
“They’re both feeling well, and they’re recovering well,” trainer Nick Kenney said. We’re real happy with where they’re at.”
The target for both pitchers is to be ready to throw five or six innings on the anniversary date of their surgery: June 13 for Duffy, and July 3 for Paulino.
Left-hander Chris Dwyer continued his encouraging start Friday night when he held Iowa to two runs over seven innings in Omaha’s 5-4 victory in 10 innings.
Dwyer was positioned for a victory before relievers Donnie Joseph and Michael Mariot surrendered runs in the ninth inning. The Storm Chasers won on Johnny Giavotella’s walk-off RBI single in the 10th.
That makes five straight strong starts for Dwyer, a 25-year-old who is looking to rebuild his reputation as a top prospect after two disappointing seasons. He is 3-1 with a 2.56 ERA over 312/3 innings.
“He’s been pounding the strike zone with his fastball consistently all season,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “As a result, his curveball and changeup have been very effective because he’s ahead of hitters.”
The Royals lured Dwyer from Clemson in 2009 by offering $1.45 million, which was then a record for a fourth-round pick.
Dwyer was a combined 8-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 24 starts in 2009-10 but slumped to 16-22 and 5.74 in 53 games, including 52 starts, in 2011-12.
It was 13 years ago Sunday — April 28, 2000 — that David Glass officially became the Royals’ owner and chief executive officer when the club’s board of directors unanimously ratified his stock-purchase agreement.
The move came 11 days after Major League Baseball had approved the sale of the club to Glass for $96 million from the estate of the late Ewing Kauffman.
“We had some cookies and a little coffee,” club president Mike Herman said at the time. “Then we congratulated David and told him we expect a World Series.”
• Greg Holland struck out two in the ninth inning and has 11 strikeouts in his last five innings over five appearances.
• Ervin Santana has 99 career victories (and 81 career losses).
• Alex Gordon went two for four and has multiple hits in 10 of the Royals’ 20 games.
• Billy Butler’s single in first inning was his 972nd career hit, which moved him past David DeJesus and into ninth place on the Royals’ all-time list. Next up is Fred Patek at 1,036.
• Alcides Escobar went one for three and needs one more hit to reach 500 for his career.