KANSAS CITY -- The Royals made some roster moves before Tuesday’s game against the Angels at Kauffman Stadium, placing reliever Josh Staumont on the injured list, while selecting right-hander Ervin Santana and recalling right-hander Tyler Zuber from the alternate training site. The club also optioned infielder/outfielder Ryan McBroom to the alternate training site.
The Royals did not give a reason for Staumont being placed on the injured list, but once he is able to return, the club will need to make a corresponding move to clear a spot on its 40-man roster, which is full.
Santana, 38, signed a Minor League contract with Kansas City this offseason and had last appeared in a Major League game in 2019 with the White Sox. He did travel with the Royals on last week’s road trip as part of the taxi squad and is built up to multiple innings.
Staumont last appeared in Sunday’s game against the White Sox, throwing nine pitches in the seventh inning. He warmed up in the bullpen on Monday, but he never entered against the Angels.
Zuber and Santana give the Royals fresh arms in a bullpen that has been strained over the previous two days. McBroom only had five plate appearances in three games as a bat off the bench. Infielder Hanser Alberto and outfielder Kyle Isbel were slotted to fill that role on Tuesday, with Hunter Dozier back in the lineup at third base and Jarrod Dyson getting his first start of the season in right field.
Junis to start Thursday
Following a stellar, efficient and eye-opening start last week, right-hander Jakob Junis will take another turn in the rotation in Thursday’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium.
Manager Mike Matheny announced the decision on Tuesday after Junis wasn’t needed to pitch in Monday’s loss to the Angels. He threw a bullpen session after the game to put him in line for the start.
Junis needed just 58 pitches to get through five scoreless innings, allowing one hit with six strikeouts on Wednesday against Cleveland. He was only slated to pitch two to three innings in the scheduled bullpen game, but he was so efficient, the Royals kept him on the mound.
Junis made two appearances out of the bullpen prior to last week’s start, beginning the season knowing that he might fill a few different roles. But his start was arguably the best the Royals have had early on this season. Knowing it would need a fifth starter on Thursday during the current 11-day stretch of games, Kansas City kept Junis in the conversation.
“The way he’s attacking hitters, like we saw in Cleveland, how do you not take another look at that as a starter?” Matheny said.
While the Royals would love to see Junis be as efficient as he was last week, they’re still deciding on how deep he’ll be able to go on Thursday. After his previous start, he’s built up to around 60 pitches, but the club will see how the game unfolds and not set a strict pitch or innings count.
“We’re still trying to navigate exactly how to go about this,” Matheny said. “But what we told Jake was, ‘How about you go out with that same mindset, thinking, short and attack.’ And then just trust us to not let you go beyond where your body is wanting you to go. Trust us to see how it looks when to get you some help.”
It’s yet to be determined whether Junis will stick in the rotation. The Royals still like him in the bullpen, as a long-inning or a high-leverage reliever because of his stuff. But it’s hard to ignore how that stuff has translated into starts, from Spring Training and early this season.
“I think we all know we have a lot riding on our starting pitching,” Matheny said. “We need our starting pitching to be strong, and if Jake can continue to evolve as a pitcher with some of the stuff that he has, we’d be foolish not continue to take a look at it. But still realize that no matter how we use him, what he’s done has really made a mark.
“I know he’d like some clarity -- he hasn’t said that, but I would certainly imagine if I were in his shoes, I would. But I do know that we’re just going to use him, kind of like we talk about all our pitchers. Trust us. We’re going to put you in there in spots to succeed.”