Royals catcher Jason Kendall will undergo right shoulder surgery on Friday and is out for the season, manager Ned Yost announced on Wednesday.
“He had an MRI on his shoulder on Monday and it showed extensive tearing in his rotator cuff,” Yost said. “It will be somewhere between eight to 10 months before he’s back.”
Although Yost said he hoped to have Kendall back “by the spring,” even just eight months would carry through the first month of the 2011 season in April. Kendall will be in the second year of his Royals contract.
Yost said Kendall was injured in mid-July sliding into a base against Oakland.
The catching for the last 30 games will be handled by backup Brayan Pena and Lucas May, just called up from Triple-A Omaha.
Kendall, who’d been an iron man behind the plate for most of this season, played in 118 games and batted .256.
Despite the rainouts on Sunday, the Royals apparently will oppose Cincinnati’s precocious left-hander, Aroldis Chapman, after all on Monday at Goodyear, Ariz. There was a chance that Chapman would be bumped out of the Reds’ plans as the pitching assignments got scrambled but the word is that he’ll throw against the Royals anyway.
A fellow Cuban defector, Royals catcher Brayan Pena got an advance look at Chapman last January in Miami. That’s where the lefty was tuning up for the showcases that resulted in his six-year, $30.25-million deal with the Reds. Pena caught him in a bullpen session.
“His fastball has got tremendous life and he’s got pretty good control,” Pena said. “But I don’t know if Monday if he’s going to try to overpower everybody or will try to show too much. But everybody in baseball knows he’s got good stuff and his youth is what’s probably going to hold him down a little bit because they’ve got a big investment in him. But I think he’ll end up in the starting rotation next year or at the end of this year.”
Pena also saw Chapman pitch some live batting practice.
“Kendry Morales was hitting against him in live BP and he was telling me that he hasn’t seen a left-hander that throws that hard in a while in the big leagues or the Dominican or in Triple-A,” Pena said. “He was pretty impressive -he’s probably 6-4 or 6-5 and he’s got pretty long arms and when he pitches, he looks like he’s giving you a handshake. That’s how you close you see him.”
Billy Butler, who’s on the travel list to make the trip, was eager to see Chapman.
“Last year during the season there were a couple of things on ESPN we saw all the time about him,” Butler said. “And all this offseason he was throwing bullpens and everything like that in scouting events for teams. The guy got a lot of money so I know he’s got a good arm. I’ve never seen him throw but he’s throwing Monday and hopefully I’ll get a chance to see what he’s got. Not many people throw 100 miles an hour, let alone a lefty, so I think he deserves everything he got. That’s an impressive arm.”
Noel Arguelles, the Royals’ own Cuban left-hander, said last week that he hadn’t yet met Chapman. But Pena said some of the Cuban-born players were planning a get-together on Sunday in the Phoenix area.
Ten days after the World Series the Royals have to make decisions on their players with contract options and that includes catcher Miguel Olivo and center fielder Coco Crisp.
It’s a club option on Crisp and it doesn’t take any genius to figure the Royals won’t pick up an $8 million deal on a guy who went through surgeries on both shoulders last season. It’ll cost the club $500,000, of course, to pass. The Royals liked what they saw, even with Coco not at full strength early on, and it’s logical that they might make him a free-agent offer at a much lower base rate with a lot of incentives, depending largely on the amount of playing time, built in. Crisp seemed happy here, too, so that could happen if his medical reports are good later this offseason.
It’s a mutual option on Olivo’s $3.3-million contract and a good guess would be that he’ll become a free agent and take his chances. There are few names on the potential free agent list that jump out in the catching department and general manager Dayton Moore admits: “Olivo sees that, too, and the free agent market could be very lucrative for him.”
Anyway the Royals want to re-cast their whole confusing situation behind the plate. Olivo was supposed to be the regular and he did start 97 games and was Zack Greinke’s very successful batterymate. And he did lead the club with 23 home runs. But there were a lot of pitches getting through and skipping past him. Despite a strong arm Olivo caught just 17 of 73 base-stealers, 19 percent. John Buck started 41 games, his hitting never took off and, despite his other defensive plusses, runners took advantage and swiped 40 bases in 48 tries. There was even an experimental period with Brayan Pena (24 starts) and he seemed a promising hitter but a catcher who needed a crash schooling course before games. So, with such uncertainty, maybe the Royals just need a new start behind the plate. Then again, it’s a skimpy market out there.
— Dick Kaegel
Catcher John Buck was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a slight herniation in his lower back, Royals manager Trey Hillman announced before Sunday’s game against the White Sox.
Catcher Brayan Pena’s contract was selected from Triple-A Omaha to take his spot on the roster.
Buck was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital after being suddenly seized with back pain just before his time at bat in the third inning on Saturday night.
“The inning ended with him reaching up and tagging on the strike three and he came down, took his catcher’s gear off and realized his spot in the lineup was due up,” Hillman said.
“He was reaching for something – I think his catching helmet had fallen off – and felt a little tweak. He grabbed his bat and as soon as he went up the stairs (of the dugout), he went down. It just grabbed on him. It’s unfortunate.”
Hillman said Buck was still confined to the hospital on Sunday.
“He was in some pain last night,” Hillman said. “It grabbed him so hard they said he went down to his knees.”
Buck, relegated this year to a secondary role to Miguel Olivo, was batting .226 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 28 games. He had made a special effort to streamline his body during the winter and was in excellent condition this spring.
Pena was batting .307 with four homers and 18 RBIs for Omaha in 22 games, although he caught in just five games and had played the outfield in nine. He appeared in four games for the Royals, going 2-for-7, before being designated for assignment on April 24. Pena cleared waivers and was assigned to Omaha on May 5.