Royals

Royals’ Kelvin Gutierrez gets his first start at third base on Saturday night

Royals encouraged by Danny Duffy’s first start of 2019

The Royals lost 5-1 to the Angels in Danny Duffy's first start of the 2019 season.
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The Royals lost 5-1 to the Angels in Danny Duffy's first start of the 2019 season.

The Royals called up third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez from Triple-A Omaha prior to Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels at Kauffman Stadium, and Gutierrez arrived at the ballpark in the middle of the game around the sixth inning.

Saturday night, he’ll make his major-league debut at third base.

“When I see that my name is in the lineup, I said, ‘This is a day. Let’s go,’” said Gutierrez, a native of the Dominican Republic.

Gutierrez, who spent part of spring training with the big club, has batted .333 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 18 games for Omaha this season. He’d had not played above Double-A before this season.

He said when he got word on Friday that he’d been called up, he was initially “frozen.” When asked about the feeling of being in the majors, he said, “Look at my smile.”

The first phone call he placed was to his wife, and since yesterday he’s received an overwhelming number of text messages.

Gutierrez came to the Royals as part of the trade which sent right-handed pitcher Kelvin Herrera to Washington Nationals last June. Gutierrez came in with a strong reputation as a defender on the infield.

With Hunter Dozier still working his way back from back problems and not playing the field for the time being, Gutierrez gives the Royals a needed option at third base.

Gutierrez allows the Royals to take their time with Dozier and not have to worry about being shorthanded on the infield if another injury crops up.

“Pedro (Grifol) saw him a lot in the Dominican when he managed there this winter, said he’s a really good defender,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He didn’t show me anything in spring training that would say that isn’t true.”

Additional arm: The Royals recalled right-handed pitcher Ben Lively from Omaha and optioned right-handed pitcher Heath Fillmyer to Omaha before Saturday’s game. Fillmyer, who pitched three innings of relief in Friday night’s loss to the Angels, has posted a 9.00 ERA in four appearances (three starts) in the majors this season.

After having pitched three innings on Friday, Fillmyer would not have been available again for multiple days. Yost was not sure if Fillmyer would go back into the starting rotation with Omaha.

Lively, who spent time in both the Cincinnati Reds’ and Philadelphia Phillies’ organizations, has allowed eight runs and 14 hits in 16 1/3 innings in four appearances (three starts) for Triple-A Omaha, and he’s struck out 17 and issued seven walks in that span.

Saturday’s lineup

1. Whit Merrifield, 2b

2. Adalberto Mondesi, ss

3. Alex Gordon, lf

4. Hunter Dozier, dh

5. Ryan O’Hearn, 1b

6. Jorge Soler, rf

7. Kelvin Gutierrez, 3b

8. Martin Maldonado, c

9. Billy Hamilton, cf

Starting pitcher: Jorge Lopez (rh, 0-2, 4.50)

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.
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