Lefty reliever Donnie Joseph looked around the visitors’ clubhouse Thursday morning at Yankee Stadium with an look of amazement spreading across his face.
“I really don’t know what to say,” he said. “If you’re going to make your debut, you might as well make it in the biggest place there is.”
The Royals recalled Joseph, 25, from Class AAA Omaha after placing right-hander Wade Davis on paternity leave. They chose Joseph rather than recall lefty Will Smith, who was optioned Monday to Omaha.
“I wanted another lefty,” manager Ned Yost said, “and we could have brought Will Smith back. But I wanted a situational lefty for this club (Yankees) and the Indians.”
Joseph is a 6-foot-3 side-armer who projects best as a situational lefty. He was 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 31 games at Omaha but has been particularly effective over the last six weeks — a 1.33 ERA in 12 outings since June 1.
“I’m throwing well, and I’m feeling good,” he said. “I went through a little struggle there for a little bit. But as of lately, I’ve been good. I feel I’m back to where I should be.”
Joseph made his debut in Thursday’s 8-4 loss. He started the seventh inning by retiring Vernon Wells on a fly to left but walked Lyle Overbay and yielded a single to Zoilo Almonte.
Yost summoned Louis Coleman at that point, and Coleman struck out the next two hitters. So Joseph’s first big-league line showed no runs.
“It was exciting,” he said. “It was a dream come true. But at this point, I’m just glad it’s over with now. Now, I can focus on going out and pitching, and not worrying about making a debut or when I’m going to pitch.”
The Royals acquired Joseph, a third-round pick in 2009, from Cincinnati with pitcher J.C. Sulbaran from Cincinnati in a July 31, 2012 trade for veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton.
Davis departed the club after yielding eight runs in five-plus innings Wednesday in an 8-1 loss to the Yankees. He and his wife, Katelyn, are expecting their first child.
Players are permitted 72 hours for paternity leave, which means Davis must be returned to the active roster by Sunday’s game in Cleveland. A corresponding roster move would be required at that time.
The other move
The Yankees also made a roster move prior to Thursday’s series finale: They activated shortstop Derek Jeter from the 60-day disabled list after designating first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment.
Jeter, 39, was one for nine with four walks in four games on a rehab assignment at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while recovering from surgery on his left ankle.
“Rehab is not easy,” he said. “I worked to get back to the field, and it was great to get back to the field.”
New York had planned to activate Jeter prior to Friday’s game against the Twins but accelerated their timetable when Brett Gardner (bruised right leg) and Travis Hafner (bruised left foot) suffered injuries in Wednesday’s game.
Jeter batted second and went one for four in Thursday’s game while serving as the designated hitter. He had an infield single in the first inning before grounding out three times.
However, he felt tightness in his quadriceps in his right thigh while batting in the fifth inning and was later removed from the game.
Jeter was scheduled for an MRI later Thursday, and the injury, whatever its extent, put a damper on what might otherwise have been a day of pure celebration.
“Well, it’s not frustrating yet,” Jeter said after the game. “We'll see. They MRI everything around here, so, they want me to get an MRI and find out. I hope it’s not a big deal.”
Maybe it should be (K)oleman
Coleman struck out the first four hitters he faced after replacing Joseph with two on and one out in the seventh inning. That followed a three-strikeout inning Wednesday in his first outing since returning from Omaha.
Coleman’s strikeout streak ended at seven when Gardner flied out to center for the final out in the eighth inning.
Biking to Brooklyn
Jeremy Guthrie beat the Yankees in the series opener Monday night and then checked an item off his “bucket list” on Wednesday by biking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
“It was exactly what I expected,” he said. “I’m not a walker. I stayed in the bike lane, but I almost hit four people.”
Guthrie characterized New York as his “favorite” city.
“It has been since I was a little kid,” he said. “Probably because of the movies. Being able to come here and transport yourself into those places you’ve seen (on film).”
No limits on Chen
Veteran lefty Bruce Chen won’t be on any pitch limit Friday at Cleveland when he makes his first start of the season after 19 relief appearances.
“He threw 85 pitches on Sunday in his last (relief) outing,” Yost said. “So no restrictions.”
Chen is replacing Luis Mendoza in the rotation after going 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA over 33 2/3 innings. Mendoza shifts to Chen’s old duty as the bullpen’s long reliever after going 2-5 with a 4.87 ERA in 16 games.
The Royals reassigned three of their Dominican prospects to Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League: catcher Eddy Melo, left-handed pitcher Carlos Herrera and right-handed pitcher Pedro Fernandez.
Fernandez, 19, was 3-2 with a 1.93 ERA last season in 12 games, including 10 starts, last season in the Dominican Summer League.
It was 25 years ago Friday — July 13, 1988 — that George Brett played in his final All-Star Game. He popped out as a pinch-hitter in his only at-bat for the American League in a 2-1 victory at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.
Brett was selected for a club-record 13 All-Star Games. Amos Otis, Frank White and Mike Sweeney rank second with five All-Star selections.
The New York Times contributed to this report.