Rookie pitches in relief and earns first win in Majors
By J. Scott Butherus and Oliver Macklin
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kansas City placed left-handed reliever Scott Alexander on the 10-day disabled list before Tuesday's game against the Rays with a strained right hamstring. The team recalled right-hander Jake Junis from Triple-A Omaha to take his place on the active roster.
Alexander's injury occurred during pregame conditioning on Monday. The move is retroactive to Alexander's last appearance on May 8. Alexander is the second member of the Royals' staff to be sidelined with a hamstring strain. Starter Ian Kennedy was placed on the 10-day DL on May 5 with the same injury.
"It's a grade 1-plus," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Alexander's injury. "It's going to be longer than 10 days with him because his is a little more severe than Ian's."
Alexander had been one of the Royals' most effective arms out of the bullpen, going 0-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 14 1/3 innings in 2017. The 27-year-old has a .146 batting average against and has eight strikeouts in 10 appearances.
Junis, the organization's No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, made his Major League debut with Kansas City on April 12 vs. Oakland, throwing a scoreless inning in relief. Junis, 24, is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23 innings across four starts for the Storm Chasers.
Yost said that Kennedy, who is eligible to come off the DL on May 15, will likely throw a bullpen session on Tuesday.
"It'll be in the next day or so if he doesn't do it today, so that means he's progressing alright," Yost said.
Doing it for dad
Royals catcher Drew Butera has a little extra motivation for the team's series against the Rays.
The backup backstop had to show off a little for his father and former Major Leaguer, Sal Butera, who has joined Drew on the current Royals' road trip. The elder Butera was one of approximately 20 fathers and brothers of current players who traveled with the team to St. Petersburg.
"He's always watching whether he is here or not," the younger Butera said. "It's cool when he's here and I get to play, so I just tried to have a good day for him."
On Monday, Butera responded by hitting his first home run of the season and going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, also his first of the season. Royals starter Nathan Karns credited Butera's pitch-calling behind the plate as a major factor in his one-run, 10-strikeout performance.
Sal, who made the short drive from his current home in Orlando, played for six teams over nine Major League seasons as a backup catcher. He won a World Series ring as part of the 1987 Minnesota Twins.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Royals on Tuesday.