Opinion

Joe Paterson is the Royals’ funky bullpen sidewinding candidate

Kansas City Royals pitcher Joe Paterson at camp Saturday.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Joe Paterson at camp Saturday. The Kansas City Star

Joe Paterson’s broken scapula and subsequent shoulder surgery from an accident on a BMX bike as a young teenager has created one of baseball’s funkiest deliveries.

“I feel like I’m just throwing like a normal pitcher,” Paterson said. “I only think about it when I come into an organization for the first time and they haven’t seen me throw.”

Paterson is a side-winding lefty whose fastball tops in the mid-80s and has been money against left-handed hitters throughout his professional career that includes 73 games over four seasons with the Diamondbacks. Left-handed hitters have a career .232 batting average and no home runs in 111 plate appearances against him.

The Royals signed him as a free agent in November and he’s looking to secure a spot in the bullpen that has many candidates for seemingly few spots. Paterson joins Tim Collins, Brandon Finnegan, Franklin Morales and Brian Flynn as leading lefty hopefuls for the pen.

“Being in a winning environment, that’s what I was looking for,” Paterson said. “All teams are full of good players, and nobody is going to just give you a job. I wanted to be around a winner. You compete better, I feel like.”

Paterson knows how winning feels. He was part of Oregon State’s 2006 and 2007 NCAA championship teams. In 2007, he was a regional MVP and got the ball to finish the championship game victory over North Carolina.

There appears to be five bullpen locks: Closer Greg Holland along with Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar, who is expected to be ready by Opening Day after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“We’re looking for guys with the best stuff and the best command,” manager Ned Yost said.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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