On Friday morning, Sam Gaviglio woke up at his home in Tacoma, Wash., packed for a four-day road trip to Las Vegas, and drove to the airport in the predawn hours. A 27-year-old right-hander, Gaviglio was finishing the season for the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers after spending part of his summer starting for the Seattle Mariners. He expected a routine road trip without incident.
Yet by the end of the day, he had been claimed off waivers by the Royals, spent three hours inside the Las Vegas airport, and caught another flight to Minneapolis, where his new team was opening a series against the Minnesota Twins.
“Only packed for a four-game road trip,” Gaviglio said, sheepishly, standing in the visitors clubhouse at Comerica Park. “But it’s been fun.”
The wild run will continue Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. Seeking a reinforcement for a decimated starting rotation, the Royals will ask Gaviglio, a rookie, to start against the division-rival Minnesota Twins, the team currently in position to claim the second American League wild-card spot.
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“I’m looking forward to it,” Gaviglio said.
Gaviglio (rhymes with Emilio) will be filling in for left-hander Danny Duffy, who is missing his third straight start since going on the 10-day disabled list because of a pronator strain near his elbow. To this point, the club has been unable to find an adequate sub. Rookie Eric Skoglund was hammered in a spot start in Cleveland. Onelki Garcia secured just one out last Friday in Minnesota. Both games ended in blowout fashion.
Right-hander Trevor Cahill, acquired from San Diego before the trade deadline, remains an option to return to the rotation later this month. But he just recently returned from the disabled list and threw three innings in relief on Tuesday in a 13-2 loss to the Tigers.
The rest of the Royals’ internal options are either on the 60-day disabled list (Brian Flynn and Miguel Almonte) or battling lingering arm issues (Kyle Zimmer).
Gaviglio, meanwhile, posted a 4.62 ERA in 12 appearances, including 11 starts, for the Mariners before being optioned back to Tacoma. In his last Class AAA start, he held Salt Lake to one run in four innings while striking out three. He was placed on waivers by Seattle in an attempt to clear a space on the 40-man roster.
“He’s command guy,” Yost said. “Good sinker. Ground-ball type guy. He pitches to the corners. Keeps the ball down.”
Gaviglio, who pitched in college at Oregon State, has recorded a 3.88 ERA in 13 starts for Class AAA Tacoma. A former fifth-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, he was sent to Seattle in exchange for utilityman Ty Kelly after the 2014 season.
Gaviglio has never pitched at Kauffman Stadium. Yet he retains one connection to the area. His grandfather’s cousin was Ralph Houk, the former New York Yankees manager who grew up in Lawrence.