TORONTO -- Right-hander Luke Hochevar was called up from Triple-A Omaha on Saturday in time to make the start for the Royals against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, and left-hander Horacio Ramirez was designated for assignment.
"Unfortunately, he was the odd man out," said Kansas City manager Trey Hillman of Ramirez.
The 29-year-old Ramirez, who has pitched primarily out of the bullpen this year, was effective in his last five outings, tossing five scoreless innings. But Hillman suggested that Ramirez's velocity has been down lately.
"There were two or three outings out of the bullpen where his breaking ball looked sharper," said Hillman. "His velocity was up 90-91 mph. Most recently, though ... we've seen him at 85-87 mph. Velocity's not everything, but it certainly can help."
Hillman also noted that with left-handers John Bale and Ron Mahay in the bullpen, there was simply no room for Ramirez.
One possible option could have been to send right-hander Roman Colon to the Minors, but the Royals decided against it.
"We like what we've seen from [Colon]," said Hillman. "We like his stuff -- it's power stuff, and he can strike people out."
Ramirez will have to clear waivers in order for the Royals to send him to the Minors. If he clears waivers, Ramirez can choose to accept the Minor League assignment or become a free agent. Hillman is hopeful that Ramirez will decide against the latter.
"It's one of those situations where for me, personally, I don't want to lose him," Hillman said. "So I'm hopeful he'll consider staying with us and going down and starting in Omaha. But that's a decision he has to make."
Ramirez was signed during the most recent Winter Meetings to a one-year, $1.8-million contract with the hope he could become the lone left-hander in the Royals' rotation. However, he made just one start on April 11 and lost to the Yankees. When the Royals next needed a fifth starter, they recalled Brian Bannister from Omaha and kept Ramirez in the bullpen.
In 19 games this year, Ramirez was 0-2 with a 5.96 ERA.
David Singh is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.