Staumont (left knee sprain) lands on IL

Royals reliever slated to rest before rehab stint; Dozier back with KC

May 28th, 2021

The Royals' bullpen was dealt a blow on Friday when hard-throwing reliever landed on the 10-day injured list with a left knee sprain. Staumont’s stint is retroactive to Thursday, and it was among a slew of roster moves by the club ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Twins at Target Field.

Manager Mike Matheny said that Staumont’s knee injury came up after he pitched a scoreless eighth inning against the Rays on Wednesday, and he was stretching back in his hotel room. He felt something “off,” Matheny said, and by the time he came to the field the next morning, he could pinpoint the pain.

The skipper said the sprain could have come from Staumont trying to generate more velocity while he was pitching on Wednesday, when he was averaging 93-95 mph instead of his typical 98-100 mph. Staumont has dealt with a tired arm to start this season, in part because of his increased workload as one of the Royals’ highest-leverage relievers. While he has a team-leading five saves and a 2.78 ERA across 21 games (22 2/3 innings), he’s seen a dip in velocity that's perplexing for one of baseball’s hardest throwing pitchers.

It’s not completely clear if the knee injury was a result of overcompensating, but it seems they could have been connected.

“We talk about how the entire body supports these movements,” Matheny said. “You’re trying to get the throwing arm going and you can make something else subject to a little more risk. … We never know exactly, but we’re just trying to put pieces of the puzzle together, like, ‘OK, where’d this come from?’ That’s usually the route for where it comes. Guys trying to make up for something else.

“But that happens all the time. Every single day, there’s somebody that’s going to feel something today that they didn’t feel yesterday, so how are they going to cope with it, and it’s usually finding a way to manipulate it to make it feel better. That’s just part of it.”

The treatment plan is rest before having Staumont begin the rehab process. In the meantime, the Royals will lean on other relievers for those high-leverage appearances. Scott Barlow and Greg Holland will continue to get many of those innings, and Kyle Zimmer and Jake Brentz have shown they can step in, too. Matheny also mentioned Tyler Zuber as an option for those spots, and Ervin Santana could see some shorter stints, if he’s not needed in long relief or spot starts.

“I just would love for us to continue to expand that group,” Matheny said. “… There’s a number of these pitchers who realize sometimes those doors open up, and hopefully they’re prepared in their mind to take those leverage situations.”

Dozier returns

After a violent collision with White Sox first baseman José Abreu put Royals infielder/outfielder Hunter Dozier on the injured list two weeks ago, Dozier was back with his team on Friday and in the lineup where he batted eighth and started in right field.

Dozier spent the days following the collision recovering from concussion symptoms and neck tightness that he had been playing through but wasn’t helped by the collision.

“The collision was on Friday [May 14] and then I would say my symptoms with the concussion went away by that Sunday,” Dozier said. “The only thing that was bothering me was my neck. … I woke up with it about a week and a half before the collision. And it was getting better, just a normal crick in the neck. And then a play in the outfield where I had to go get a ball that was hit directly above me, and that just kind of irritated it for whatever reason.

“It was something I could play through, it was just slowly getting a little tighter. Looking at the collision, maybe it was a blessing in disguise, giving me a little time to rest my neck and get it fully healed.”

Dozier played four rehab games with Triple-A Omaha, going 3-for-18 with two doubles, three RBIs and five strikeouts. He had a rough start to the Major League season, hitting .139 with a .541 OPS, so the rehab assignment was also useful to get some confidence back in his swing.

“Most of it was just getting healthy, making sure he was healthy,” Matheny said. “And then we’re hopeful that he just has some confidence coming back and has some success. But everything we heard from the Triple-A group was, ‘He looks ready to go,’ and that was all we really needed to know.”

Royals rumblings

• The Royals didn't announce Saturday’s starting pitcher prior to the series opener as the club wanted to get through Friday’s innings before making the final decision. Carlos Hernández was in the bullpen on Friday night, but if he wasn't needed in long relief, he is certainly built up for a start. The right-hander has a 5.59 ERA in four starts with Omaha this season, striking out 20 in 19 1/3 innings.

• The Mariners announced that their game against the Royals on Saturday, Aug. 28 at T-Mobile Park will begin at 3:10 p.m. CT and not 9:10 p.m. CT as originally scheduled.