Royals execute myriad player moves

Royals execute myriad player moves

ST. LOUIS -- So who replaces Luke Hochevar in the Royals' rotation? Nobody, at least for now.

Manager Trey Hillman said on Sunday that the Royals would get through the next 2 1/2 turns of the rotation with just four pitchers, not needing a fifth starter until June 6.

That was a big factor in the Royals' decision to option Hochevar to Triple-A Omaha after his Interleague loss to the Cardinals on Saturday. Because of two open dates, the Royals can give four starters the usual four days of rest between assignments.

"Hoch, after having a good day, it wasn't an easy send-down, but he understood that we needed to get a couple of bullpen arms in to protect the bullpen a little better," Hillman said.

Hochevar will resume starting for Omaha and, if he does well, he could very well be recalled to rejoin the rotation on June 6. If not, Sidney Ponson is also a possibility.

The Royals also placed shortstop Mike Aviles and reliever Robinson Tejeda on the 15-day disabled list and called up from Omaha relievers John Bale and Roman Colon along with infielder Tug Hulett.

Aviles was sent to the Royals' training facility at Surprise, Ariz., in an effort to work out soreness from a strain in his right forearm.

Willie Bloomquist was at shortstop on Sunday against the Cardinals, but Hillman said he'd also mix Luis Hernandez into the starting lineup there at times. Bloomquist, a right-handed batter, has been one of the Royals' most productive hitters this season. Hernandez, a switch-hitter, has played little since being recalled on May 2 when shortstop Tony Pena Jr. went on the DL.

"It's going to be Bloomquist and Hernandez," Hillman said. "I'm going to mix and match both Bloomy and Luis there at short, as the numbers dictate."

Bloomquist, who has played five different positions this season, started his sixth game at shortstop on Sunday. Hernandez opened last season as Baltimore's starting shortstop, but went to the Minors after batting .241 in 36 games.

Aviles was batting just .183 and sat out four games because of the forearm ailment before returning on Wednesday against Cleveland, going 1-for-12 before going on the DL.

Hillman said he met with Aviles at the team hotel after Saturday's game.

"He reluctantly admitted that the forearm is still bothering him, so I just took the decision out of his hands and said, 'We're going to DL you,'" Hillman said.

In Arizona, Aviles will be able to take ground balls, but will not be throwing or swinging the bat for now.

"I did see a better swing after the four days off, but I still think there's still physical along with mental going on -- more physical by not allowing the swing to come out and have production," Hillman said.

An option would have been to send Aviles to Omaha.

"If he'd have been healthy, certainly we would have done that," Hillman said.

Initially, Hillman indicated that Bale, out since March 3 after undergoing thyroid surgery, will pitch in middle relief, and Colon would likely be used in the later innings. Bale had just reported to Omaha after rehabbing with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and was stretching on the field for Saturday night's game.

"They said, 'You're not throwing tonight,' " Bale recalled. "I said, 'Why not?' They said, 'You're going to the big leagues.'"

Colon has been pitching in various situations for Omaha where he was 2-3 with two saves.

"I pitched sometimes after the starter, sometimes late in the game," Colon said. "I've got some experience."

Colon has pitched for Atlanta and Detroit, but hasn't been in the Majors since 2006 when he underwent neck surgery.

Tejeda went on the disabled list with tendonitis in the right rotator cuff, a problem he's had since his last outing last Wednesday against Cleveland. He had a 2.65 ERA in 12 games, primarily in middle relief.

Hulett is likely to be used as a utility player. He's played second base primarily for Omaha but also was used at shortstop. He was batting .296 for Omaha.

"It kind of caught me off-guard; I wasn't expecting it," Hulett said of the promotion. "It was a nice surprise, a good kind of surprise."

A left-handed batter, Hulett played in 30 games last year for Seattle with a .224 average.

"He's not a home run hitter, but he should bring a little more energy," 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.