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Possible new role? Harvey pitches in relief

@FlannyMLB
September 4, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Might this be a new role for Royals right-hander Matt Harvey? After three wobbly starts trying to make a comeback with the Royals, Harvey came out of the bullpen during the Royals’ 11-6 loss to the White Sox on Thursday night. • Box score Harvey, 31, was

KANSAS CITY -- Might this be a new role for Royals right-hander Matt Harvey?

After three wobbly starts trying to make a comeback with the Royals, Harvey came out of the bullpen during the Royals’ 11-6 loss to the White Sox on Thursday night.

Box score

Harvey, 31, was signed as a Minor League free agent on July 28 and made three starts last month. But he gave up 12 runs over seven innings in those starts for a 15.43 ERA.

On Thursday, Harvey gave up two hits and zero runs over two-thirds of an inning.

It was just Harvey’s sixth relief appearance of his career. His last came on May 3, 2018, with the Mets.

Royals manager Mike Matheny had suggested earlier this week that Kansas City would likely go with a six-man rotation this month. If Harvey leaves the rotation, his spot could be filled by rookie Carlos Hernández, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen -- in relief of Harvey, who failed to make it out of the second inning -- in his MLB debut on Tuesday.

But Matheny was noncommittal after the game on whether Harvey would be a new addition to the bullpen or remain as a starter.

“He had a bullpen day today [scheduled anyway],” Matheny said. “We’re still looking at him having that start potentially coming up here soon. It was a day for his 'pen and we needed the inning, so why not have his work be on the field rather than just a side session?”

Meanwhile, this was a game Royals left-hander Danny Duffy likely will forget in a hurry, especially after a five-run second inning.

But Duffy did what managers love to see: He grinded through six innings to spare the bullpen from a long night. And that is especially important for the Royals, who are in the midst of 17 games in 17 days.

“I didn’t expect him to be standing out there as long as he did after he got to like 40 pitches the first two innings,” Matheny said. “Probably could have taken him longer into the game, too.”

Duffy also limited the damage after that shaky second inning, holding the White Sox to just one run over the next four innings, giving the offense a chance to come back.

“When you have days like this and you don’t have your best stuff, it’s your job to get as many outs as possible,” Duffy said. “I feel like I accomplished that. ... There will be days like this.”

The Royals did manage three runs in the sixth to pull within 6-4.

Duffy gave up seven hits and six runs while walking five and striking out three.

“I had five walks. ... The free passes are what irks me,” Duffy said. “I’ve worked my butt off over the years to avoid that. I’ll be better my next time out.”

Rookie outfielder Edward Olivares, acquired in the trade with San Diego for Trevor Rosenthal last Saturday, made his Royals debut and delivered two hits, including a double, with two runs scored.

Olivares also nearly had a third hit. The game ended on a replay challenge when Olivares, with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, appeared to beat out an infield grounder, but he was ruled out, and after review, the call stood.

“Just part of the game,” Olivares said through interpreter Luis Perez.

But Olivares said that he is thrilled to be a Royal.

“It’s already a family-type environment for me,” Olivares said. “I just want to contribute.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.