This isn’t exactly breaking news but, officially, Sir Sidney Ponson became a free agent on Wednesday.
We reported last Sunday that he had been released by the Royals. Now the paper work is done. General manager Dayton Moore told us that Ponson decided against considering a stint with Triple-A Omaha and will take his chances elsewhere
Ponson was just 1-7 and his ERA was 7.36 when the Royals designated him for assignment. Manager Trey Hillman liked his stuff and his work ethic was reported to be good but he just wasn’t getting the job done.
The Royals, by the way, will have to make a roster move on Thursday morning to clear the way for Gil Meche’s return off the disabled list. He’ll start Thursday afternoon at Minnesota.
Pitcher Sidney Ponson was designated for assignment by the Royals on Sunday and Kyle Davies was being recalled to take his spot in the rotation.
Ponson had a 1-7 record and a 7.36 ERA in 14 games including nine starts for the Royals. In his last start on Friday night, he was tagged for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Davies, since being optioned to Triple-A Omaha on June 20, had a 4-2 record and a 2.14 ERA in eight starts. In 46 1/3 innings, he gave up 47 hits and 14 walks with 44 strikeouts. For the Royals this season, Davies was 3-7 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts.
The change means that Davies will start on Wednesday night against the Seattle Mariners in Kansas City.
The Royals have 10 days in which to put Ponson on waivers, trade or release him. Manager Trey Hillman indicated that, if he clears waivers, the Royals would offer Ponson a spot at Omaha.
The Royals designated for assignment shortstop Tony Pena Jr. and optioned center fielder Mitch Maier to Triple-A Omaha on Thursday.
The moves cleared roster space for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and third baseman Alex Gordon. Both are coming off the disabled list and will be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pitcher Sidney Ponson reported from his injury rehabilitation assignment but remained on the disabled list.
The Royals listed their starting rotation for the Tampa Bay series. Brian Bannister will start the Friday night opener, followed by All-Star Zack Greinke on Saturday night and Luke Hochevar on Sunday.
The club will further evaluate the status of Gil Meche, who left his last start because of a back spasm.
In addition, shortstop Luis Hernandez cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Omaha. He had been designated for assignment by the Royals
Starting pitcher Brian Bannister was recalled from Triple-A Omaha by the Royals on Tuesday and reliever Doug Waechter was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Bannister will start Wednesday night’s game at Cleveland instead of left-hander Hector Ramirez. Bannister, after a rough first start for Omaha, has logged nine straight shutout innings while Ramirez has struggled for the Royals.
This move puts Ramirez back in the bullpen, essentially covering Waechter’s spot in middle relief.
Waechter has a lateral strain in his right elbow.
“He’s been having trouble getting loose and felt some clicking in there and was examined by Dr. (Steve) Joyce on Monday,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
Although Waechter told the Royals he felt he could pitch through it, the club decided to put him on the disabled list. Waechter had not given up a run this season until Friday night at Texas when the Rangers jolted him for two solo home runs in one inning of the Royals’ 12-3 victory.
Bannister was optioned to Omaha late in Spring Training along with fellow right-hander Luke Hochevar after the Royals decided to use Sidney Ponson and Ramirez in the last two rotation spots.
On Sunday, Bannister was used to pitch just two innings, both scoreless, in Omaha’s 3-0 victory over Albuquerque. That brief outing was in anticipation of the move with Waechter and Ramirez.
That gave Bannister nine shutout innings in his last two starts after a rocky first outing in which he gave up five runs in four innings. Overall, his ERA is 3.46 with a 0-1 record.
Hochevar also has been pitching well with a 3-0 record and 1.89 ERA in three starts for Omaha.
Ramirez, signed last winter to a $1.8 million contract, was supposed to give the Royals a left-handed starter in an otherwise all right-handed rotation. But he had a lackluster Spring Training and was penciled in for just two starts this month. He made one on April 11 against Cleveland and went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs in a 6-1 loss.
He’s also made two relief appearances and his overall ERA is 11.12 to go with his 0-1 mark. In 5 2/3 innings, he’s given up 12 hits including two homers and seven runs.
Waechter becomes the third player on the Royals’ disabled list. Third baseman Alex Gordon underwent right hip surgery on Friday and is expected to be out until at least late June. Right fielder Jose Guillen has a tear in his right hip flexor and could be back as early as Saturday.
Waechter’s stay on the DL is retroactive to April 18.
Sidney Ponson will pitch the first game at renovated Kauffman Stadium, manager Trey Hillman said on Wednesday in completing the Royals’ starting rotation.
Ponson and left-hander Horacio Ramirez will join Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies in the rotation.
Ponson will start on April 10 against the New York Yankees in the Grand Re-Opening of the stadium. Ramirez will make his first start on April 12 against the Yankees.
The Royals also optioned pitcher Brian Bannister to Triple-A Omaha, asked unconditional release waivers on pitcher Joel Peralta and placed left-hander John Bale on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27.
Earlier on Wednesday, they traded first baseman Ross Gload to the Florida Marlins for a player to be named.
Right-hander Luke Hochevar, one of the prime candidates for the last two spots in the Royals’ rotation, was optioned on Tuesday to Triple-A Omaha.
Hochevar’s departure cuts the list of starting aspirants to three, right-handers Sidney Ponson and Brian Bannister and left-hander Horacio Ramirez.
In five Cactus League games, Hochevar had a 3.86 ERA and a 1-0 record. In 16 1/3 innings, he gave up 17 hits and seven runs with four walks and seven strikeouts. Opponents hit .279 against him.
The first overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Free Agent Draft, Hochevar was brought into the rotation last April 20 after opening the season with Omaha. He made 22 starts for the Royals, going 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA before his season ended on Aug. 20 because of a rib-cage injury.
In this camp, he was not bothered by the injury. In his last Cactus League start, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he gave up three runs in the first inning but then worked three scoreless innings.
His candidacy for the rotation might have taken a hit when the Royals signed veteran Sidney Ponson who was immediately put into the mix. Ponson was scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Oakland A’s.
Hochevar’s departure still leaves 36 players in camp including 18 pitchers, three catchers, 10 infielders and five outfielders. The Royals break camp on Thursday.
Manager Trey Hillman didn’t come out and exactly say it on Sunday but he came close to anointing Kyle Davies as the Royals’ No. 3 starter.
“I think that you can assume that,” he said, knowing full well that we’ve been assuming that for two or three weeks now.
Davies will pitch on Monday, right after No. 1 and 2 Gil Meche and Zack Greinke, so he’s right on target to start the third game at Chicago.
Just who will start the April 10 opener remains in question, of course, because the fourth and fifth spots are still undecided. So it’ll be either Horacio Ramirez, Luke Hochevar, Brian Bannister or Sidney Ponson. It can’t be Meche because he’d have only three days of rest, not four, before the first home game against the Yankees.
Gil Meche’s excellent outing on Friday against the Dodgers gives the Royals’ rotation picture a huge boost.
Sure, everybody knew he was much better than he’d pitched this spring. He was not a 10.45 ERA guy. He’d proved himself in the last two years. Even so, there were those nagging thoughts: What if that back problem really hadn’t gone away? What if he’d just lost something? What if, what if?
Anyway, Meche blew away the doubts with seven shutout innings, breezing through in about 80 pitches and using just three in the last inning. So he looks ready for Opening Day.
Zack Greinke will go in the second game and, even though manager Trey Hillman won’t say so, Kyle Davies has the third starting job sewed up.
So how does it shake out for the other two, with Brian Bannister, Luke Hochevar, Horacio Ramirez and new arrival Sidney Ponson in the shootout?
Here’s a guess: Hochevar gets one spot because, frankly, he’s looked good enough to win it. The other spot goes to Ramirez unless that loose fingernail problem pops up again and proves to be a problem. The Royals badly want a left-hander in the rotation, just to break things up, and they think Ramirez will be better once he unleashes his cutter. He’s purposely held off on that pitch, which might be his best, while he improves his other pitches.
Bannister, who’s struggled most of the spring, gave himself a boost with five shutout innings in a Minor League game the other day. But it’d be easy for the Royals to send him to Triple-A Omaha to work on finding himself again. Likewise, because Ponson has pitched in just one Cactus League game and there’s time for him to pitch just one more, it’d be logical to send him to Omaha for more tune-ups. Then if somebody falters or gets hurt, the call can quickly go out to Bannister or Ponson.
The Royals can dip down and pull up a proven Major League starter. It’s nice to have that kind of depth and it’s something they haven’t had for a while.
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