The Kansas City Royals, a team plagued by the injury bug all season, should become more steady as key pieces return from the disabled list. Jonathan Sanchez made his return Wednesday pitching five innings and allowing one earned run. Four of his seven hits allowed were on infield singles in the third inning.
"This was his best outing for me, by far, all year long," Ned Yost said.
Felipe Paulino and Salvador Perez should make their return to Kansas City next week as well. Perez is currently hitting .433 through 7 games in his AAA rehab assignment. Lorenzo Cain will attempt another rehab assignment this weekend as he joins the AA Northwest Arkansas squad. The Royals are desperate for more offensive production out of the center field position and are eager to see what he can do being penciled in the lineup card regularly during the second half.
Everything appears to be on the up and up as players make their way back from injuries, but I'm still perplexed by some roster decisions up to this point. Johnny Giavotella was recently demoted to make room for Chris Getz. Why not give Johnny a chance to prosper by sticking with him at second base for a couple months? I know he was unimpressive with his .217-260-261 line, but 73 plate appearances in his month stint with the club is such a small sample size. Why not find out sooner rather than later if he's going to be a part of things as a regular building towards 2013 and beyond. Maybe they've seen enough with 257 career plate appearances? They seem content to stand by stop-gap veterans at the position until Christian Colon is big league ready. (Currently a .290-369-407 line in AA.)
As for the rotation? Barring injuries, they continue to send guys out there that have no business being on the 25 man roster, let alone starters. It's time to consider ways to upgrade the staff as soon as possible from within the organization. Keeping all elite prospects in tact is something Dayton Moore will likely stick to this far into his rebuilding process.
I'm all in favor of sending down Kelvin Herrera to develop as a starter. Formally a starter when he pitched in the low minors, he missed nearly two years due to elbow injuries and was moved to the bullpen. I suggest him being developed once again as a starter with some skepticism, but I think it's a gamble worth taking. Desperate times call for desperate measures? He has the a solid three pitch assortment that could lead to success as a starter once he builds stamina and regains the mindset for being a starting pitcher once again. He'll have to mix in more changeups and curveballs, as he is relying heavily on his power fastball out of the pen throwing them 72% of the time.
It's only a matter of time before young phenom Jake Odorizzi gets called up, which we're all anxiously awaiting.. Even with expected growing pains, we'll see flashes of what he has to offer on the big stage.
The long guy is a dying breed in today's game. Aaron Crow could give 100 + innings to a staff that could use more quality innings. He'd only be available every few days, but he would give more production. He's currently being under utilized. He could be experimented with as a starter again down the road, but his lack of a quality third offering would make any success difficult to sustain in that role. This is the perfect middle ground, as a long reliever. It doesn't prohibit him from bridging the gap to the closer. He'd primarily be used in the 6th-8th innings. He obviously shouldn't be used as a mop up guy.
Whether it's Yost's daily lineup cards, his insistence on the sacrifice bunt or the roster moves, we're often baffled by the many head scratching moves of the team. Yet the Royals are still enjoyable to root for. Coming off a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, capping two consecutive victories in unusual walk off fashion, certainly doesn't damage my current psyche. Brighter days are ahead for an organization that has had an ongoing battle with futility for a couple of decades now.