Opinion

Closer Greg Holland expected to rejoin Royals on Wednesday

Closer Greg Holland has not pitched for the Royals since he strained his right pectoral muscle on April 17. He was eligible to leave the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but manager Ned Yost elected to delay his return one more day.
Closer Greg Holland has not pitched for the Royals since he strained his right pectoral muscle on April 17. He was eligible to leave the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but manager Ned Yost elected to delay his return one more day. jsleezer@kcstar.com

A freshly-laundered white No. 56 jersey hung in Greg Holland’s locker on Tuesday afternoon, a jersey that has not appeared in a game for the last two weeks. Holland has not pitched for the Royals since he strained his right pectoral muscle on April 17. He was eligible to leave the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but manager Ned Yost elected to delay his return one more day.

Yost indicated that Holland would “absolutely” rejoin the club on Wednesday. The delay stemmed not from Holland’s health but from the complexion of the Kansas City bullpen. Yost wanted to grant Chris Young, who started on Friday night, a fourth day of rest before returning to active duty, which means retaining fellow long reliever Yohan Pino for another game. The team optioned Pino to the minors after Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

“It’s just protection for the pitching staff,” Yost said. “With the off day, we’re in pretty good shape. But we wanted to make sure we’ve got one extra day to give Chris what he needs to be at full speed. So that way we’re totally protected.”

The Royals reside on the precipice of clarity with their bullpen. In the coming days, they should welcome back Holland and Luke Hochevar, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in the minors. They also will know how long Kelvin Herrera is suspended for various offenses committed in April.

Holland will inherit Pino’s roster spot on Wednesday. The club also needs to make a roster move on Saturday when Hochevar’s 30-day rehabilitation assignment ends. The club must either activate Hochevar to the roster or designate him for assignment. Brandon Finnegan will likely be sent down to make room for Hochevar.

Hochevar is expected to be a sizable contributor during the summer, but Kansas City will handle carefully at the outset. He carried a 8.68 ERA through eight outings with Class AAA Omaha. He gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on May 1 to wreck his statistical line. Officials from both Kansas City and rival scouts clocked his fastball from 92 mph to 96 mph during these outings.

The returns of Holland and Hochevar should coincide with the temporary departure of Herrera. Officials from Major League Baseball heard Herrera’s appeals on Monday for his two separate suspensions. MLB banned him five games for throwing at Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie, then tagged him for two more games for participating in a brawl with Chicago.

The Royals hope MLB shaves a game or two off Herrera’s ledger.

“They generally say it takes a day or so,” Yost said. “Maybe sometimes two, before they make their decision.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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