ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera avoided the disabled list, overcoming tightness in his pitching shoulder, and worked two-thirds of an inning for the Royals in a 5-4 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night.
Herrera had not pitched since the opener of the Royals' nine-game road trip on June 30. He went 1 2/3 innings at Minnesota, but he reported tightness three days later.
"So, we stayed away from him in Cleveland, stayed away from the first day [against Tampa Bay] and we were going to make a decision [Tuesday], and he passed all his tests," manager Ned Yost said. "It was either you're pitching or going on the DL. Can't afford to go short."
Herrera threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, showing his shoulder was OK, but that workout kept him from being available for that night's game.
"I couldn't get him back hot again for last night even though we probably needed him," Yost said.
But when starter Yordano Ventura left after five innings on Wednesday night, Herrera was brought in for the sixth. Herrera got two outs, but he gave up two hits and a walk, and was pulled with the bases loaded. Left-hander Scott Downs came in, threw one pitch and got the third out.
"Herrera looked OK. A little rusty but he got his fastball up to 100 [mph] and no complications there," Yost said.
Herrera was relieved that his shoulder had recovered.
"It's a long season and I've got to feel 100 percent," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.