Yordano Ventura will make a rehabilitation start on Friday for Class AAA Omaha as he returns to action after missing time due to irritation in his ulnar nerve in his right elbow.
Ventura will throw a five-inning stint that should last about 75 pitches, manager Ned Yost said.
“We’ll see how he does, how he gets through it,” Yost said before the Royals finished their series with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night at Safeco Field.
Yost has mapped out his rotation until July 5, which is when Ventura could pitch again in the majors. The team has received two useful outings from veteran Joe Blanton in Ventura’s absence. Blanton tossed six innings of one-run ball Monday against the Mariners.
In his last outing, on June 12, Ventura experienced numbness in three fingers on his right hand. The loss of sensation stemmed from a buildup of fluid pressing against the nerve.
The Royals do not view the condition as particularly serious, but they will be cautious with Ventura (3-6, 4.68 ERA), who has regressed in his second big-league season.
Ventura has made 12 starts this season. He has left three of them early with injuries, and he was ejected once. He has given up at least four runs in six of those outings.
Ventura threw a bullpen session Wednesday, as did left-handed starter Jason Vargas. Wednesday marked the first throwing session off a mound for Vargas since he experienced soreness in his left forearm during a bullpen on June 10.
Vargas also is getting closer to a return, though the team is reluctant to set a date for that. Yost said he did not believe Vargas will require a rehabilitation start.
“Probably not,” Yost said. “We’ll just have to wait and see where we are when we get there.”
The Royals’ starting rotation remains in flux as the trade deadline approaches. The Royals are expected to inquire on pitchers on the trading block, such as Cincinnati Redsa starters Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Oakland Athletics starter Scott Kazmir and perhaps even Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels.
But it is unclear whether the Royals will feel compelled to pull the trigger on a deal, perhaps because they possess internal upgrades. The team would like clarity on the readiness of Vargas, Ventura and even Danny Duffy — who returned to action Wednesday night after a monthlong because of shoulder irritation — before fully engaging in external replacements.
The Royals also are keeping tabs on right-hander Kris Medlen as he recovers from his second Tommy John surgery. Medlen made his second rehab start for Class AA Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday night. He gave up six runs on six hits in four innings against the Arkansas Travelers. One of those runs was unearned.
The Royals hope Medlen can contribute at some point soon after the All-Star break. They also hope that by then they will have a better sense of how Duffy, Ventura and Vargas might fare down the stretch. Ventura faces a test Friday as he pitches for the Omaha Storm Chasers.