Almonte betrayed by fastball in tough debut
KANSAS CITY -- This wasn't exactly a case of easing a rookie into the big leagues.
Royals rookie right-hander Miguel Almonte made his Major League debut in the seventh inning against the Tigers on Tuesday night and he promptly gave up a single and a two-run homer to Ian Kinsler -- two pivotal runs in a 6-5 loss.
Almonte entered with the Royals trailing, 4-2. Manager Ned Yost and his beleaguered bullpen, which is missing Ryan Madson because of arm soreness and Kelvin Herrera because of chickenpox, was short-handed to say the least after starter Johnny Cueto lasted just six innings.
"Not having Madson and Herrera really depletes our depth down there," Yost said. "You don't want to use Hoch [Luke Hochevar] or Wade [Davis] or Holly [Greg Holland] when you're down two, even when you're down one. You can get on a run the next two or three days, and you really need those guys then.
"We knew we were really limited to [Jeremy] Guthrie and Almonte when we were behind. We know what kind of stuff Almonte has -- 98-mph fastball, good curve, good change. But when you're making you're Major League debut, you know you'll have some jitters there so we opted to back him up with Guthrie."
Almonte said he was not nervous in his debut.
"Not at all," he said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I actually felt comfortable. I put it in my mind that baseball is baseball. I felt comfortable."
No butterflies at all?
"Not at all," he said.
But Almonte served up a single to the first hitter he faced on the first pitch. Then came a long seven-pitch at-bat with Kinsler, who won with a two-run homer. All seven pitches were fastballs.
"Seven straight fastballs to a dead-red fastball hitter in Kinsler," Yost said, slightly shaking his head. "But I thought his stuff was impressive."
Actually, Almonte said he didn't have an issue going with all fastballs to Kinsler.
"No regrets on that," he said. "I just have to keep pounding the strike zone. That's baseball. That's going to happen. I just have to keep the ball down and pound the zone."
Almonte eventually got out of the inning without further damage.