The Royals on Wednesday cleared space for pitchers Danny Duffy and Luke Hochevar on their 25-man roster by optioning pitchers Wade Davis and Louis Coleman to High-A Wilmington.
The decision to send Davis and Coleman to Wilmington represents a pragmatic procedural move designed to enable both players to return as soon as possible to the big-league club.
“We sent them there in order to get them back on (Tuesday),” manager Ned Yost acknowledged. “Wade is going to go to the pen. We’ll let him get two innings under his belt to get re-acclimated to relieving.
“He’ll throw one two-inning stint on Saturday and then be back and ready to go for us on (Tuesday). Louis Coleman is going to throw an inning (on Thursday) and an inning on Saturday, and then be ready to be back.”
Players optioned to the minors typically must remain there for 10 days, but that doesn’t apply if their minor-league club completes its season.
Wilmington will conclude its regular season Monday and is on the verge of elimination from possible postseason play. Barring that miracle, Davis and Coleman will each return for Tuesday’s game against Seattle.
Class AAA Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas also conclude their regular seasons Monday but both remain alive in the postseason hunt.
“With Louis Coleman, it was a tough choice between him and Will Smith,” Yost said, “We wanted two lefties (in the bullpen). That benefits us more when we go to Toronto.”
The Royals recalled Duffy from Omaha to replace an inconsistent Davis in their rotation for Wednesday’s game against the Twins at Target Field. Hochevar returned to active duty after three days of paternity leave.
Rules permit clubs to expand their rosters from 25 players to a maximum of 40 on Sept. 1 (Sunday), but the rules governing the recall of players optioned to the minors remain in effect.
Yost said the Royals are likely to make additions before Sunday’s series finale at Toronto. He cited a third catcher, to join Salvy Perez and George Kottaras, as one priority.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas returned to the bench for Wednesday’s game after missing the series opener Tuesday while battling strep throat in addition to continuing to nurse a strained left calf muscle.
“I’m able to walk around,” he said. “I could definitely play if they needed me. I don’t think I could have gone (Tuesday). I was barely able to move (Tuesday).”
Moustakas isn’t likely to start in Thursday’s series finale against the Twins, when temperatures are expected to reach the mid-90s, but he could return to the lineup for Friday’s series opener in Toronto.
“They’ve got an excessive heat warning (in Minneapolis),” Yost said. “I don’t want to set him back.”
Moustakas said he hadn’t slept in four days. He began experiencing symptoms during Sunday’s victory over Washington but said his condition deteriorated in Monday’s victory over Tampa Bay.
“On Monday, I wasn’t feeling good at all,” said Moustakas, who exited after the sixth inning. “I don’t think (Yost) knew I was that sick. He pulled me because of my calf. But I ended up being really sick.”
Moustakas remained in his hotel room Tuesday until near game time, when he went to Target Field for further evaluation and treatment.
“I left in seventh or eighth inning,” he said. “They didn’t want me to see any of the guys. They were making me stay away from everybody.”
Maxwell: X-rays negative
Outfielder Justin Maxwell underwent precaution X-rays on his right hand after getting hit by a pitch from Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak in the ninth inning.
The results show no broken bones, which left Maxwell with a smile.
“It’s the first time in my career,” he said, “I’ve ever had a negative X-ray. I was having flashbacks to April.”
Maxwell suffered a broken left hand April 23, while playing for Houston, when hit by a pitch from Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma. Maxwell didn’t return until June 18.
The Royals reclaimed the American League lead in team ERA after Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over the Twins lowered their mark to 3.541 — just ahead of Detroit’s 3.543.
Only once have the Royals led the league in ERA: 1976, with a 3.21 mark.
Also, the Royals’ bullpen ERA of 2.58 leads the league and is on pace to be the best mark by an AL relief corps since Oakland’s 2.35 ERA in 1990.
The Royals entered Wednesday with a streak of three victories over three different opponents in a span of three days:
They won two home games — 6-4 over Washington on Sunday and 11-1 over Tampa Bay in a makeup for a May 2 snow-out — before beating Minnesota 6-1 on Tuesday in the series opener at Target Field.
That’s rare but not unprecedented. It also happened on two previous occasions (thanks to research by the Elias Sports Bureau).
From May 6-8, 1990, the Royals beat Chicago in a home game before winning at Cleveland and Texas. During Aug. 27-29, 1995, they won home games against Texas and Milwaukee while sandwiching in a victory at New York.
If you’re the type who likes to pop for a cold brew or two at the ballpark, know that prices at Kauffman Stadium are pretty much at the major-league average in a study conducted by Team Marketing Report.
The survey calculated the average price per ounce of beer at all 30 ballparks and found Kauffman Stadium ranked 15th at 41 cents.
The most expensive was Fenway Park in Boston at 60 cents, followed by Busch Stadium in St. Louis at 56 cents. The Skydome in Toronto and Nationals Park in Washington tied for third at 52 cents.
The majors’ cheapest buzz is found at Angel Stadium in Anaheim: 28 cents.
The Royals are closing out their most successful year ever against the Twins after improving 14-4 with Wednesday’s victory. The two teams conclude their season series with a game Thursday afternoon.
The 1975 and 2003 Royals each posted 11 victories over the Twins, going 11-7 and 11-8. That 2003 team was also the last one to win a season series against Minnesota.
The Royals are 33-26 against AL Central opponents with 18 games remaining.
Right-hander Angel Baez, who is heading to the Arizona Fall League, pitched six scoreless innings Tuesday night for Class A Wilmington in a 5-2 victory over Myrtle Beach.
Baez, 22, yielded just one hit while striking out five and walking four. He is 3-1 with a 3.94 ERA in seven starts since his promotion from Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League.
Right-hander Malcom Culver, who is also headed to the Arizona Fall League, closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth inning. Culver, 23, has a 2.84 ERA in 38 appearances for the Blue Rocks while holding opponents to a .176 average.
Two career milestones of note occurred on Aug. 29 in George Brett’s Hall of Fame career.
In 1982, in a 7-4 victory at Chicago, he collected the 1,500th hit of his career. He would finish with 3,154. Frank White ranks second on the club’s all-time list with 2,006.
In 1993, in a 5-4 victory over Boston at Kauffman Stadium, Brett stole his 200th career base. In doing so, he became the first player in franchise history to have 200 or more homers and 200 or more stolen bases.
Brett finished his career with 317 homers and 201 stolen bases. He remains the only player in franchise history to have at least 200 of each.