Royals ink lefty Saunders to Minor League deal

Club assigns former American League All-Star pitcher to Triple-A Omaha

Royals ink lefty Saunders to Minor League deal

ST. PETERSBURG -- Just in case, the Royals have signed left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders to a Minor League contract. Just in case Saunders still has something left in his tank and just in case there's a need for a starting pitcher in Kansas City.

Saunders, 33, was assigned to Triple-A Omaha after being released by Texas. He was 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts for the Rangers this year.

"He's a guy that we signed for depth," manager Ned Yost said. "He's a guy that's had success in the big leagues. ... It's another experienced arm."

Saunders was an American League All-Star for the Angels in 2008, when he finished 17-7. He has a career record of 89-86 record with 229 Major League starts for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Mariners and Rangers.

One of his most memorable victories came on May 9, 2009, when he and the Royals' Zack Greinke had a complete-game duel at Anaheim. Saunders won the game for the Angels, 1-0, with a five-hitter. Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award that year.

The Royals' pitching rotation has been solid this season and there's no need for a starting pitcher.

"How quick does that change?" Yost said. "So, you've got make sure you've got enough experienced arms down there."

The Royals also have former big league starter Clayton Mortensen at Omaha with a 4-0 record and 1.64 ERA.

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