Left-hander Danny Duffy will replace inconsistent Wade Davis in the Royals’ rotation in part, manager Ned Yost declared, because the club still harbors postseason aspirations.
“We haven’t given up on making the playoffs,” Yost said prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“We want Duffy on our playoff roster. If we do make the playoffs, we’re going to probably go with three starters. Wade is going to be in the pen at that time, so we’ll acclimate throughout the last month.”
Yost cited other reasons, too — specifically Davis’ mounting increase in innings over last season. He has 125 1/3 innings in 24 starts after finishing last year at 70 1/3 while pitching as a reliever for Tampa Bay.
“You start to get 40 or 50 innings past what they did the year before,” Yost said, “it’s a concern. And we want to get Duffy’s innings built up for next year. It gives him a chance to get four, five or six more starts.”
Davis’ inconsistent form is also, undeniably, a factor. He is 6-10 with a 5.67 ERA and allowed 14 runs and 16 hits in 9 2/3 innings over his last two starts.
Duffy, officially, will be recalled Wednesday from Class AAA Omaha, where he allowed four runs over his last 22 innings while continuing his recovery from reconstructive-elbow (Tommy John) surgery.
The Royals summoned Duffy for two spot starts earlier in the month. He pitched six scoreless innings on Aug. 16 in a 2-1 victory at Detroit. His last outing for Omaha was Aug. 21.
Yost said veteran lefty Bruce Chen will shift back one day in the rotation — from Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon — to avoid prolonging Duffy’s rest since his last appearance.
The Royals must also make a corresponding move to clear roster space for Duffy prior to Wednesday’s game. It likely will be one of two moves because reliever Luke Hochevar is anticipated back from paternity leave.
New bench coach
Bench coach Chino Cadahia has taken what Yost termed a leave of absence to deal with personal family matters. Cadahia, 55, is not expected to resume his duties before the end of the season.
“It’s a personal family matter,” Yost said, “and it’s nobody else’s business.”
The Royals summoned Tony Tijerina to serve as Cadahia’s temporary replacement. Tijerina has served the last three years as the organization’s minor-league field coordinator.
Tijerina, 43, is likely to hold the post only until the club’s minor-league affiliates complete their seasons. He is scheduled to direct the club’s operations in the Instructional League, which begins in mid-September.
“It’s a bridge until we can get somebody else up here,” Yost said. “Then we can free up TJ to coordinate the Instructional League.”
Tijerina joined the Royals in 2007 as the manager at Class AA Wichita before spending 2008-10 as the assistant minor-league field coordinator and catching coordinator.
Cadahia spent the last two years as bench coach after joining the organization in 2011 as a special assistant to player development. He served as bench coach in Atlanta from 2007 to 2010 under manager Bobby Cox.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas can add strep throat to the sore left calf injury he is still nursing. He didn’t start Tuesday and appears likely to miss at least a few games because of his latest ailment.
“He started coming down with it (Monday),” Yost said. “He felt terrible with the heat, got run down. He came here (Monday) night and woke up this morning with a 101(-degree) temperature.”
Plans called for Moustakas to remain in his hotel room Tuesday except for a brief visit to the ballpark to undergo a follow-up exam and treatment.
Emilio Bonifacio started at third base in place of Moustakas after starting the three previous games at second base. Chris Getz started at second base for the first time since last Friday.
Moustakas was two for four with two RBIs in Monday’s 11-1 victory over Tampa Bay, which boosted his average to .241 — its highest point since early April. He is batting .297 in his last 58 games.
Minor moves: Royals sign Carlos Pena, acquire Mortensen
The Royals made two minor-league moves prior to Tuesday’s game: They signed first baseman Carlos Pena, and they acquired right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen from Boston for outfielder Quintin Berry.
Pena, 35, and Mortensen, 28, were both assigned to Omaha but could be in line for September promotions.
A 13-year veteran, Pena is a left-handed hitter who batted just .209 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 85 games at Houston prior to his July 31 release. Despite his low average, he had a .324 on-base percentage.
Mortensen was 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in 24 relief appearances this season for the Red Sox before a hip injury forced him to the disabled list. He was designated for assignment June 29 after returning to duty.
After clearing waivers, Mortensen accepted an outright assignment to Class AAA Pawtucket, where he was 3-0 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 games, including six starts, prior to the trade.
The Royals obtained Berry, 28, in a June 4 waiver claim from Detroit. He was designated for assignment on June 23 and, after clearing waivers, accepted an outright assignment June 25 to Class AAA Omaha.
Berry batted .222 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 144 at-bats in 48 games at Omaha. He batted .258 last season in 94 games for the Tigers while stealing 21 bases in 21 attempts.
Eight set for Fall League
Three of the Royals’ top non-pitching prospects are among eight players from the organization selected to play in the Arizona Fall League.
Shortstop Orlando Calixte, third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and outfielder Jorge Bonifacio will play for the Peoria Javelinas, who will be based at the Royals’ year-round complex in Surprise, Ariz.
Calixte, Cuthbert and Bonifacio are each currently playing for Class AA Northwest Arkansas. They entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s No. 7, No. 9 and No. 4 overall prospects.
The Royals are also sending four pitchers to the Javelinas: right-handers Jason Adam, Angel Baez and Malcom Culver and left-hander Noel Arguelles.
Outfielder Lane Adams will serve as a member of the Javelinas’ taxi squad, which means he is limited to playing on Wednesday and Sundays.
The Javelinas are based this year in Surprise because their home ballpark, the Peoria Sports Complex, is being renovated. They will also draw players from the Houston, Seattle, San Diego and Philadelphia organizations.
The Arizona Fall League, in its 22nd year, consists of six teams grouped in the Phoenix area and bills itself as a “finishing school” for top prospects.
The rosters for the All-Star Game last month at Citi Field in New York contained 36 players who once played in the Arizona Fall League.
The AFL season begins Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 14. A championship game between the two division winners is Nov. 16 at Scottsdale Stadium. The Rising Stars All-Star Game is Nov. 2 at Surprise Stadium.
A double-digit rarity
From the Elias Sports Bureau: The Royals’ 11-1 victory on Monday over Tampa Bay marked just the second time in 33 years that they won by 10 runs or more against an opponent that was at least 20 games over .500.
The other occasion was Aug. 13, 2003 when they hammered the New York Yankees 11-0 at Kauffman Stadium behind Kevin Appier, who pitched six innings in his final career victory. The Yankees entered that game at 71-46.
The Rays entered Monday’s game at 74-54.
It was 26 years ago Tuesday — Aug. 27, 1987 — that John Wathan replaced Billy Gardner as the Royals’ manager. Wathan was the ninth (of 16) full-time managers in franchise history.
The Royals won their first game under Wathan when George Brett hit a walk-off homer with two outs in the 10th inning for a 3-2 victory over Texas at then-Royals Stadium. Brett’s home came against Dale Mohorcic.
Wathan remained the Royals’ manager through the first 37 games of 1991. His .515 winning percentage (287-270) ranks fourth in franchise history behind Whitey Herzog, Jim Frey and Dick Howser.