Opinion

Ask Andy: Why is Royals prospect Brandon Finnegan relieving in the minors?

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Brandon Finnegan (27) throws in the seventh inning during Sunday's baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on May 3, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Brandon Finnegan (27) throws in the seventh inning during Sunday's baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on May 3, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Star

The Royals stormed through the first two legs of this three-series homestand. They went 4-1 against the Yankees and the Reds to set the stage for a weekend clash with the St. Louis Cardinals. The two first-place clubs will tangle on Friday night.

Until then, let’s answer a few pressing (and less-than-pressing) questions about the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals promoted Brandon Finnegan to Class AAA Omaha on Thursday. He joined the club two days after recording a two-inning save for Class AA Northwest Arkansas. He will work as a reliever in the immediate present, assistant general manager Scott Sharp confirmed earlier this week.

Sharp emphasized the team’s developmental plan for Finnegan has not changed. He is still building up his pitch count to about 60 and trying to string together stints that last two or three innings. The organization has just shifted their philosophy on when they will deploy him into games. He will aid the big-league club as a reliever this season.

“I don’t think he’s doing anything really different, he’s just not starting the game,” Sharp said. “I think it’s just a utilization of how he’s going to be used up here. But we’re still giving him about the same number of pitches, the same number of innings.”

Finnegan, the team’s No. 1 pick in 2014, completed a heavy workload in 2014, pitching from the College World Series into the actual World Series. The organization does not want to strain him again in 2015. So it looks like his development as a starting pitcher, in the traditional sense of trying to throw 100 pitches across six or seven innings, may be postponed until 2016.

Ned Yost suggested on Tuesday that Rios could start a rehab assignment in seven to 10 days. Let’s take the longer end of that, because nothing is guaranteed, and Rios’ rehabilitation has gone slowly. He would start the assignment on May 29, when the Royals were in Chicago. One figures he would play all weekend, and maybe even Monday, when the Royals are off. That would place him ready for a return on June 2 against Cleveland.

This, of course, relies upon Rios continuing to progress.

I enjoyed this. PECOTA projects the Royals will win 84.6 games this season. The initial projection was 72.

I’m going to be myself. That seems to work.

In this town? Tacos crush pizza. I can’t say enough good things about Kansas City, but there is no pizza here. If you want to change my mind, please send me a recommendation to rmccullough@kcstar.com. I promise I will go buy a slice at your suggestion and document it.

I can’t rank them, but I have a few scattered thoughts. There are plenty of things I miss about the East Coast. Almost all of my friends and family live in Philadelphia, New York or Washington, D.C. I miss Wawa. I miss pizza (as I’ve mentioned). I miss cheesesteaks. I miss the Philadelphia accent.

But I don’t miss traffic. I don’t miss paying $35 to park my car at Yankee Stadium. I don’t miss the PATH train. I don’t miss being one of 15 reporters crowding around Mark Teixeira to discuss his latest slightly strained calf muscle (or the equivalent in any other player). I don’t miss the lack of day games on getaway day.

I love covering games at Kauffman Stadium. I love talking to the folks who work at the park — Bill and Mike and John and Andy and so many others. I love knowing Art Stewart reads the paper every day. I love being part of this community. I got into sports writing because I wanted to write memorable stories, ones that resonated with people. Because of the run to the World Series, I feel like I wrote more last year than I did in the previous four in New York.

No, but I do get messages from Ryan Lefebvre if I’ve written a particularly arcane word. Past winners include “rollicking,” “wended” and “sacrosanct.” I need to shorten my sentences and stop using adjectives.

1. Alcides Escobar: “Here Comes The Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze. Every first inning should resemble a Public Enemy entrance.

2. Mike Moustakas: “I Took A Beating” by I Am The Avalanche. A song for a resilient young man.

3. Lorenzo Cain: “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap. This might be his actual walk-up song at some point this year. Cain sings this one a capella like once a week.

4. Eric Hosmer: “Marvin & Chardonnay” by Big Sean. It’s a pretty strong statement.

5. Kendrys Morales: “No Church In The Wild” by Kanye West and Jay-Z. It’s ominous enough.

6. Alex Gordon: “Stay” by No Devotion. Free agency!

7. Salvador Perez: “If You’re My Girl, Then I’m Your Man” by PAPA. I probably should just stick with “Simon Says” from last year, but I wanted to try something different.

8. Omar Infante: “Intro” by The xx. Shrug.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4730 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @McCulloughStar. Download True Blue, The Star’s free Royals app, here.

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