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Royals agree to Minors deal with Buchholz

Right-handed veteran aims to prove he can contribute
MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals are always on the lookout for forgotten players they believe can turn around into productive Major Leaguers again.

It has worked in the past with players such as Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson, Chris Young and, to some degree, Kendrys Morales, who was coming off a dreadful season in 2014 before resurrecting his career with the Royals.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals are always on the lookout for forgotten players they believe can turn around into productive Major Leaguers again.

It has worked in the past with players such as Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson, Chris Young and, to some degree, Kendrys Morales, who was coming off a dreadful season in 2014 before resurrecting his career with the Royals.

The Royals are hoping to find that magic again with right-hander Clay Buchholz, a former Red Sox All-Star who signed a one-year Minor League deal with the Royals on Tuesday. The 33-year-old Buchholz can earn $1.5 million if he makes the big league roster; there are $250,000 in incentives in the contract.

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Buchholz drifted from the baseball radar after undergoing season-ending surgery last April to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. He made two starts with the Phillies before the injury.

"This elbow thing has been going on for two and a half years," Buchholz said. "Everyone battles injuries, but it was a nagging thing that turned into a an actual injury last year. Never had surgery before, so this was all new to me."

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The recovery time for the surgery was projected to be four to six months, and Buchholz began throwing in December. He believes he's not far away from contributing to the Royals.

"The only thing I haven't done is throw live to hitters," Buchholz said. "I've been throwing bullpens for two months. Just got to get in some up-and-downs and go from there. Shouldn't take long."

Royals manager Ned Yost said Buchholz, if nothing else, could provide some rotational depth. The Royals' rotation is set for now with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Nathan Karns and Jakob Junis.

The plan for Buchholz isn't set in stone, but he likely will build up arm strength in extended spring training after camp breaks and then go straight to Triple-A Omaha the second week of April. Buchholz has a May 1 opt-out date.

"I haven't spoken to anyone about where I'm going," Buchholz said. "But I think I can be ready pretty quickly.

"When you have something surgically repaired it's always in the back of your mind whether to really let it go or not let it go [when you're throwing]. But I think I'm over that hump now."

Buchholz naturally is eager to prove he has value left. If the surgery wasn't enough to cause him alarm, a slow free-agent market added to his frustration.

"I had one low with the surgery and then another low with the market," he said. "But it's behind me now. I'm happy with where I ended up. My wife's really happy because her family is from Kansas City.

"And I'm happy because it's a great organization."

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

Kansas City Royals, Clay Buchholz