It wasn’t a tough decision for Will Smith when he was asked to shift to the bullpen a few weeks ago at Class AAA Omaha.
Smith was ready and willing to do anything if that was the quickest path back to the Royals’ big-league roster.
“Any way to get here,” Smith said. “I’ll play shortstop if I have to. Any way to get here, you’re here.”
Of course, that’s not to say it’s been an easy adjustment for Smith, who had never been anything but a starter at any point or any level during his baseball career.
“It’s starting to get easier down there,” Smith said. “The biggest change is the routine. I’ve told a million people that I was used to having five days, so the workout’s different, the running’s different, how many pitches you throw before you go in is different. Now, it’s a little light work, a little light running and eight pitches — you’re ready to go. That was tough to get adjusted to.”
Smith still hasn’t tried to pitch on back-to-back days, but he’s entered games with runners on base and thrown multiple innings from the bullpen in the minors.
Neither the Royals nor Smith has any reservations about his value as a reliever.
“He’s still a real young guy,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s hard to think as long as we’ve known him, but he’s like 23 years old. He’s very durable, he’s got tremendous competitiveness and he’s going to be fine.”
Long term, Smith, who was recalled from Class AAA when Kelvin Herrera was sent down for a second stint with the Storm Chasers, might still project as a starter, though he doesn’t care in what role the Royals use him.
“I just want to be in the big leagues,” Smith said. “It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll stay down here for the rest of my career if I have to as long as I’m in the big leagues. It doesn’t matter.”
Paulino to resume rehab
One day after throwing a simulated game, right-hander Felipe Paulino reported no lingering tightness in his lower back.
As a result, Paulino, 29, who was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven starts with the Royals last season, will resume his rehab stint with Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Paulino, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched for the Royals since leaving a start June 6, 2012, with a sore elbow, is scheduled to start Sunday against the Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders.
Two Royals minor-league pitchers, Yordano Ventura and Miguel Almonte, were selected Wednesday for the World roster in the 15th annual Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game at 1 p.m. on July 14 at Citi Field in New York.
Ventura, 22, will be making his second consecutive appearance in the exhibition. He started for the World all-stars during last year’s game at Kauffman Stadium.
Ventura, who starts tonight for Class AAA Omaha, is 2-1 with a 5.49 ERA in four starts for the Storm Chasers after going 5-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 11 starts for Class AA Northwest Arkansas before his promotion.
In 14 starts for Class A Lexington (Ky.), Almonte, 20, is 3-5 with a 3.42 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 73⅔ innings. He was the 2012 Dominican Royals pitcher of the year and a Dominican Summer League all-star last season.
High-tech TV toys
Fox Sports Kansas City will have a new toy —Phantom Cam — for its telecasts from the Twin Cities, where the Royals open a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at 7:10 p.m. Thursday.
The high-speed camera, which debuted during the 2012 National League Championship Series and World Series, captures 3,000 frames per second, allowing for amazingly detailed slow-motion replays.
Fox Sports Kansas City also will utilize the technology July 19-21 when the Detroit Tigers come to Kauffman Stadium.