Alburquerque gets callup while at casino

Reliever's Triple-A team was in Las Vegas to play next series

Alburquerque gets callup while at casino

KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Al Alburquerque was enjoying a little down time last week at a casino in Las Vegas where his team, the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, was scheduled for its next series.

"I was just playing roulette," he said. "I was losing a little."

Then his cellphone buzzed. It was Omaha manager Brian Poldberg.

"He said, 'You're going to the big leagues,'" Alburquerque said. "I said, 'Thank you!'"

That call certainly beat anything the roulette wheel had to offer.

"He had a really good spring," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And he was pitching pretty well at Omaha, so hopefully he's a good addition to our bullpen."

It has been a long journey back to the big leagues for Alburquerque, who will turn 31 next month.

Alburquerque, who is from the Dominican Republic, signed with the Cubs as a 16-year-old. Since then he has been with five organizations. His best season came with the Tigers in 2014 when in 72 games he posted a 2.51 ERA.

The Tigers released him after 2015, and then Alburquerque signed with the Angels. He pitched in two games for the Angels last season before being released in August, when he was signed by the Mariners. The Royals signed him as a Minor League free agent over the winter. On Thursday, Alburquerque pitched a scoreless inning in relief against the Rays.

"I feel so glad to be here," he said. "I know some of the guys from my days in Detroit. Everyone tells me about how great the organization is and now I can see that. Makes you feel like family. I'm very happy."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.