KC notes: Keller returns; 2 test positive

July 18th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander was cleared to return to the Royals’ Summer Camp on Friday after producing two negative tests for COVID-19 at least 24 hours apart.

And while Keller threw a 30-pitch bullpen session earlier in the day, he chose to stick around until after 6 p.m. CT just to participate in a media Zoom call.

In fact, Keller was so happy to be back Friday after a lengthy quarantine, the Royals may have trouble getting him to leave Kauffman Stadium.

“I don’t want to go back to my apartment,” Keller said, smiling and shaking his head. “I’m so over my place.”

Keller’s return could be a huge boost as manager Mike Matheny and the Royals scramble to piece together a rotation with Opening Day next Friday. Right now, Kansas City is looking at , and to start the season-opening three-game series at Cleveland.

It’s possible Keller could be stretched out in time for the following four-game series at Detroit.

“I threw that 30-pitch bullpen today, and now I’ll take two days off,” Keller said. “Then I’ll do a live BP [session] after that. Go two innings and go from there. I feel great.

“I think I could get up to 50-60 pitches -- maybe more -- pretty fast.”

Fast enough to make a start in Detroit?

“I think so,” Keller said. “But it’s out of my control. I’ll be ready to go whenever.”

While in isolation, Keller used a rather unique method to get his throwing in while inside his apartment.

“I basically taped a sock to my arm,” he explained, “and I would hold the baseball, and then I would throw it and the sock would catch it. I just repeated that. It was really weird. Really strange. I had no other place to throw.”

Keller got the news he could come back Friday morning.

“That was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever had,” he said. “It felt like I got called up to the big leagues. It was nuts.”

Dini, Tillo test positive
The Royals also announced that catcher and left-hander Daniel Tillo, their No. 20 prospect per MLB Pipeline, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dini is the third Royals catcher known to test positive for COVID-19, along with , who has returned, and . had been on the injured list but has been activated.

It has been an especially rough week emotionally for Tillo. MLB.com learned that Tillo, who had a reasonable chance to crack the 30-man roster, had an MRI on Thursday. The results showed that Tillo has damage to the UCL in his left elbow. No surgery has been scheduled, though that is a possible outcome. It seems likely that Tillo will get a second opinion.

Listening to scouts
Royals scout Jim Fregosi, Jr., a special assistant to the general manager, has been known to find his share of hidden gems. Right-hander Ryan Madson, who was huge out of the bullpen in 2015, was just one of Fregosi’s many finds for Dayton Moore.

And Fregosi pushed hard for outfielder and right-hander as the return pieces for the Thursday trade that sent Tim Hill to the Padres.

Fregosi’s recommendations carry a lot of weight.

"When Jim Fregosi Jr. says to do something,” Moore said, “we just simply do it."

Royals land alternate site
Kansas City reached an agreement Friday with Wyandotte County (Kan.) and the independent league Kansas City T-Bones to use T-Bone Stadium as the club’s alternate training site for the Royals' player pool. T-Bone Stadium is a little more than 20 miles from Kauffman Stadium.

“The proximity to Kauffman Stadium and Kansas City was a driving factor in our decision," said Scott Sharp, Royals vice president/assistant general manager. "We are fortunate to have a quality baseball facility so close to Kauffman, allowing our players to train without the disruption of relocating outside of the metro area. We believe this is a win for all involved.”

The Royals and the T-Bones have long had a solid relationship, with some former Royals ending up with the T-Bones and vice versa. It is a relationship that Chris Brown, T-Bones vice president/general manager, has nurtured over the years.

“On behalf of our owner, Mark Brandmeyer, and the T-Bones' organization, we are thrilled to partner with the Unified Government and the Royals to allow them to train at T-Bones Stadium this summer,” Brown said. “We think it is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our facility in KCK and we wish the Royals all the best this season."