There is something wrong with Royals closer Joakim Soria after all.
Manager Trey Hillman said on Friday that Soria is expected to miss at least the next three to five days because of tightness behind his right shoulder.
“There is a problem but it’s not a DL situation,” Hillman said. “He doesn’t have any structural damage but he does have a tight right shoulder on the back side. We’re looking at a minimum of three to five days.”
Both Hillman and Soria insisted earlier this week that he was fine despite not appearing in a game for eight straight days. He returned on Wednesday night to post a save at Cleveland but apparently felt stiffness on Thursday.
General manager Dayton Moore said the stiffness came to the Royals’ attention last Saturday at Texas while he was warming up as a potential replacement for Zack Greinke who finished the game.
Hillman said he’d kept Soria’s situation under wraps until now to avoid tipping off opposing teams.
The closing role now will be handled by a “committee” until Soria returns, he said
— Dick Kaegel
Sidney Ponson, who pitched for the amazing Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic, was signed Tuesday by the Royals to a Minor League contract.
Ponson was invited to the Major League camp and will report on Wednesday.
“He’s going to get an opportunity,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “Our depth is not what we wish it was.”
Presumably Ponson could make a bid for the Royals’ starting rotation, pitch in relief or go to the Triple-A club at Omaha. Moore said Ponson indicated he’d be willing to play at the Triple-A level.
Ponson, 32, made two starts in the Classic for the Netherlands, which twice stunned the Dominican Republic. He was the winner in the first victory over the Dominicans, 3-2, when he started and went four innings, giving up two runs in four innings. In his other start, he lost 3-1 to Venezuela, giving up two runs in five innings.
“We scouted him in the WBC and our scouts were very, very persistent in their recommendations,” Moore said.
“They just liked the way he pitched and the way he competed. The results, obviously, were very good. He pitched and performed very well and our scouts were strongly recommending that we bring him in as somebody that gives us needed depth.”
The Royals seem set with Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies in the rotation with Luke Hochevar, Brian Bannister and Horacio Ramirez competing for the other two spots.
Now Ponson might enter that picture.
Although terms were not disclosed, Moore said there’s no big contract or guaranteed money involved.
“It’s a Minor League contract, it’s very low risk,” Moore said
Right-hander Juan Cruz, a free-agent reliever, was signed by the Royals on Saturday.
Cruz signed a two-year contract with an option for 2011. The deal was believed to be worth $2.25 million for this year, $3.25 million for 2010 and a club option for $4 million for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout.
To make room for Cruz on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated infielder Esteban German for assignment.
Cruz, 30, last season had a 4-0 record with a 2.61 ERA in 57 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He led all National League relievers with 12.37 strikeouts per nine innings, based on his 71 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.
“He’s a power pitcher, he’s a great competitor,” said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. “I think only Brad Lidge had more swings-and-misses last year. He was very effective against left-handers and very effective against right-handers and is someone who gives us a lot of power and aggressiveness. He’s been very successful the last two years.”
Cruz was under consideration by the Royals during the Winter Meetings when they signed relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Doug Waechter. Cruz was among several free agents left unsigned as Spring Training games got under way.
Cruz will help fill the bullpen gap created by John Bale’s absence because of thyroid surgery which is scheduled for Tuesday in Kansas City.
In eight Major League seasons, Cruz had a 29-31 record with a 4.00 ERA in 297 games.
German batted .245 in 89 games for the Royals last season, his third with the club.
— Dick Kaegel
The Orlando Hudson talk involving the Royals isn’t going to go away until somebody signs the guy and the Dodgers are negotiating with the free agent second baseman. Royals general manager Dayton Moore was asked about the Hudson situation again on Wednesday. He was typically non-commital.
“Until every Major League free agent is signed, we look for ways to improve our team. But we don’t expect any new addition to our camp in the immediate future,” he said. “What we have here is what we expect to have. But you never know. The phone could ring and something could happen.”
But, really, there’s no hint that the Royals will land Hudson because Moore has reached his budget limit. He’d have to dump $4 or $5 million or whatever it takes to get Hudson and that’s not likely to happen.
Unless that phone happens to ring and . . .
Could Orlando Hudson be in the Royals’ second-base future? ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that the Royals are trying to figure out a way to fit Hudson into their budget.
That could be true because general manager Dayton Moore has said all along he’s always thinking about ways to improve the lineup. He also acknowledges that the problem is he’s reached (and probably exceeded) his $70-million plus payroll limit. Moore is already sticking his neck out to some degree. To add Hudson or any other player with a stiff price tag, Moore will have to lop off a sizable salary elsewhere.
There’s no doubt that Hudson, one of several alluring players still on the free-agent market, would help the Royals’ lineup. Right now at second base, there’s Alberto Callaspo and Willie Bloomquist set to do battle with Mark Teahen willing to shift to that spot if he can show he can handle it.
Moore will not comment on individual free agents and he cannot be asked about it now anyway. Sadly, he went to Houston on Saturday to be with his ailing mother.
Sure, Hudson would be a nice addition. But he won’t come cheap even if he’s running out of time; he made $6.25 million last year. Moore would have to figure out a money tradeoff to pull that off.
— Dick Kaegel