KANSAS CITY -- Just in case those young whippersnappers in the Royals' bullpen need some tips from battle-scarred campaigners next spring, help is on the way.
Left-hander George Sherrill and right-hander Dan Wheeler, both 35 years old with long histories of relief pitching, have been signed to Minor League contracts by the Royals.
"We're just looking for some veteran guys that can help if needed," said Scott Sharp, the Royals' director of player development. "They can help the younger guys, just how to handle themselves in the clubhouse with their professionalism."
Sherrill is coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery on May 4. That came after he'd pitched just two games for the Seattle Mariners.
It wasn't until Sherrill was 26 and had played five years in independent leagues that Seattle signed him in 2003. He reached the Major Leagues the next year and spent four years with the Mariners, working a career-high 73 games in 2007 with a career-low 2.36 ERA. Traded to Baltimore, he was an All-Star and notched 31 saves in 2008.
Sherrill later pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves and was re-signed by Seattle last year. His career record over nine big league seasons is 19-17 with 56 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 442 games. He's held left-handed batters to a .186 average.
"Looking ahead, we're looking for some left-handed depth," Sharp said. "[He could be] a situational lefty -- left-on-left."
Wheeler began the 2012 season with the Cleveland Indians, but after an 8.76 ERA in 12 games, he spent the rest of the season with Triple-A Columbus. Things improved for him there, and he finished with a 3-3 record and a 2.32 ERA in 36 games.
Wheeler's spent two stints with the Rays, his original club, and he also pitched for the Mets, Astros and Red Sox. His 13-year record is 25-43 with 43 saves and a 3.98 ERA in 589 games.
Wheeler was in two World Series, 2005 with Houston and '08 with Tampa Bay. In '05, he was on the mound for the Astros' National League Series-clinching victory at St. Louis, throwing the final pitch in the history of old Busch Stadium.
Although the Royals have not yet announced their Spring Training invitations to non-roster players, Sherrill and Wheeler are likely to be among them.
"We're looking for veterans who could help the Major League bullpen if needed so you don't have to rush guys along," Sharp said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.