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Needing relief, Royals recall Fulchino

Royals recall Fulchino

NEW YORK -- Jeff Fulchino, a 28-year-old right-hander, joined the Royals' bullpen on Sunday.

Fulchino was called up from Omaha and right-hander Joel Peralta was optioned to the Triple-A club.

The move came after the Royals had used six relievers in Saturday's wild 12-11 loss to the New York Yankees. Peralta gave up a home run to Jason Giambi in the fifth inning and departed with 5.64 ERA and 0-2 record in 18 games.

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"Fulchino is fresh for us and we needed a fresh arm after what we'd been through the last several games, and especially yesterday," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "We ran pretty much everybody out of the bullpen."

Fulchino was pressed into action immediately on Sunday. He pitched the eighth inning and, after a walk, retired the side.

"I liked what I saw," Hillman said of the 6-foot-5, 250-pound pitcher. "You've got to like the size. He looks like a workhorse out there."

Fulchino spent his entire pro career in the Florida Marlins' organization until being signed to a Minor League contract by the Royals last February. For Omaha, he was 2-1 with three saves and a 3.99 ERA in 12 games, including five starts.

"He's durable, he's got somewhat of a bulldog attitude, he's got one appearance in a Major League uniform, and that was with Florida," Hillman said.

Fulchino appeared in one game with the Marlins in 2006, facing two batters. In eight Minor League seasons, he has a 38-36 record and a 4.40 ERA. In 2005, he was 11-7 in 29 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque. He missed most of last season because of arm surgery.

Before this year, he was primarily a starter.

"Relieving took some getting used to, but, really, the more I've done it now, the more I enjoy it," Fulchino said.

With Omaha, Fulchino pitched to catcher Matt Tupman. Oddly enough, they had been teammates as kids in New Hampshire.

"We won a national championship as 13-year-olds. We played for a team called the New England Mariners," Fulchino said.

Peralta also gave up a home run to Jim Thome last Thursday at Chicago, and two homers in a 10-inning loss to Minnesota on May 28. In all, he surrendered seven homers in his 22 1/3 innings. In 2007, he was one of the Royals' most dependable and durable relievers.

"Peralta needs to go down and learn to command the ball better again," Hillman said. "He's given up a lot of home runs in the innings pitched [by] leaving the ball up."

Not that Peralta was alone, the manager quickly added.

"You can say lack of command about several guys in the bullpen right now, especially in light of not only what happened yesterday, but on this road trip, as well," Hillman said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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