Blake Wood is in and Josh Rupe is out of the Royals’ bullpen.
Wood, a 6-5 right-hander, was called up from Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday and Rupe was designated for assignment.
For Omaha, Wood worked 12 games in relief and posted five saves with a 2-1 record and 2.16 ERA. In 16 2/3 innings he had given up 12 hits, seven walks and four earned runs with 12 strikeouts. He pitched one scoreless inning on Tuesday night in a 10-2 victory at Reno.
Rupe was 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in 11 games for the Royals. He was called up from Omaha on April 16 when Roman Colon was designated for assignment.
The former Texas Rangers right-hander bottomed out in Tuesday night’s game, allowing all four batters he faced to reach base. He gave up two singles and two walks to force in a run in the Royals’ 8-2 loss to the Indians. In his previous outing last Thursday night, he entered the game at Texas and promptly surrendered a two-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero.
Wood, 24, has been one of the Royals’ top pitching prospects since he was their third-round draft selection in 2006. He was a starter until late last season when, with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, he was recovering from a strained right forearm and worked out of the bullpen. He liked it and it worked so well the Royals decided to make it permanent.
Showing a heavy fastball and effective changeup, Wood had an impressive Spring Training. He appeared in seven games and had a 4.70 ERA but held batters to a .167 average. For Omaha this year, he’s been more effective against left-handed batters (.194) than against righties (.222).
Wood is from the Atlanta area and played three seasons at Georgia Tech University and reached the College World Series in 2006 as a junior.
Alex Gordon’s conversion to left field is reportedly going well and his hitting wasn’t bad either on Tuesday at Reno. He socked a first-inning home run, also singled and scored three runs and knocked in two in a 10-2 Omaha victory. On Wednesday, he went 1-for-2 in a 4-2 loss to Reno and is batting .286. That includes a 3-for-4 game on rehab prior to his current assignment. . . . . The Rockies’ Jeff Francis, on rehab with Double-A Tulsa, held Northwest Arkansas scoreless for seven innings on Tuesday but the Naturals rallied against the bullpen to win, 4-1. Their 21-10 record was the best in all of Double-A. . . . First baseman Eric Hosmer had two more hits in Single-A Wilmington’s 9-8 loss to Lynchburg. He’s batting .409 with 24 RBIs. . . . Left fielder Carlo Testa hit his third home run but Single-A Burlington lost to Cedar Rapids, 5-2. . . . Carrie Rosetti, who has helped abuse victims at Hope House for seven years, was in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night. She is also founder of the Kansas City Alliance Against Human Trafficking.
How ya gonna keep Kila Ka’aihue down on the farm?
Ka’aihue’s towering home run snapped a 12-12 tie in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 14-12 victory over Oakland. That gave the big first baseman from Hawaii a club-leading four home runs with 11 RBIs and his 3-for-4 boosted his average to .381 with 16 hits.
“He’s having a heck of a spring and he’s making a tremendous case for himself,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
But Ka’aihue is a first baseman-designated hitter and that’s a crowded department on the club with Billy Butler and Jose Guillen around.
“We’ve still got plenty of games left. I’m going to keep playing him,” Hillman said. “I’ve never said he’s not going to make the club and I’ve never said he’s on the club. And I’ve always said everything about him we like. So we’ll see how things go. It is a crowded spot but we need to have some run producers.”
Ka’aihue, a left-handed slugger, has seemed destined for a return to Triple-A Omaha all spring but, as the skipper likes to say, stay tuned.
Meantime on Saturday, Hillman’s pitchers (and those of the A’s) were unimpressive with Josh Rupe especially banged around. Rupe was making a strong case for a bullpen spot but, in starting against the A’s, he coughed up six runs in the first two innings.
Brad Thompson and Bryan Bullington each gave up three runs in three innings. But Thompson did pitch out of some jams and Bullington followed one bad inning with two good ones.
“I was real pleased that Thompson battled through some adversity and figured out a way to stop the bleeding,” Hillman said.
Hillman was also happy with the way Bullington finished up and how the ball was getting out of his hand.
The skipper had to get after Roman Colon, who was brought in to pitch the ninth with a two-run lead and immediately walked the leadoff batter. After ball one to the next batter, Hillman jumped up and went to the mound for an intense one-on-one.
“I thought he was too concerned about a runner on first base there in that situation and I just wanted to eliminate that,” Hillman said.
Colon got a strikeout, gave up a single, then retired the next two batters to end the slugfest.