Royals call up Verdugo, send down Smith

Royals call up Verdugo, send down Smith

Royals call up Verdugo, send down Smith
KANSAS CITY -- Ryan Verdugo got to Werner Park early on Tuesday, because the Omaha Storm Chasers had an afternoon game against the Memphis Redbirds.

"I was just eating breakfast when [manager Mike] Jirschele came in and got me," Verdugo said. "I didn't know what was going on, and I got in there and he had a big smile on his face and put out his hand and said, 'Congratulations, you're going up.'"

That's how Verdugo, a left-handed pitcher, got the news that he was going to the Major Leagues for the first time. He arrived in Kansas City in plenty of time to join the Royals' bullpen for Tuesday night's game against the Twins.

"That was a pretty cool thing," Verdugo said. "I didn't cry or anything like that, but it's something I've been working for since I was about 6 years old, so it was actually pretty cool. I called my dad and he started crying right away, and it took me awhile to get hold of my mom and then my girlfriend was next after that."

His father, Dale, and his mother, Cindy, are expected to arrive from Baton Rouge, La., for Wednesday night's series finale at Kauffman Stadium.

Left-hander Will Smith, who was hammered for seven runs, including three homers in a 10-7 loss to the Twins on Monday night, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha. Smith made three starts with a 1-2 record and a 9.00 ERA.

Verdugo, 25, was acquired along with lefty Jonathan Sanchez in last winter's deal that sent outfielder Melky Cabrera to San Francisco. In 11 starts this season with Omaha, Verdugo went 3-1 with a 3.61 ERA. He has struck out 52 batters in 62 1/3 innings pitched.

A reliever earlier in his pro career, Verdugo has been a full-time starter the past two years. One of his Royals teammates, fellow pitcher Louis Coleman, was also a college teammate at LSU.

"It's pretty cool to be on a big league team with somebody you've played college ball with," Verdugo said. "That's a pretty big deal."

His stay in the Majors is likely to be brief.

"We'll probably have Verdugo here for a couple of days, and when we go on the road, switch him out with a position player," manager Ned Yost said. "We have to have an extra position player in the National League."

The Royals will play their first Interleague series in a National League city, Pittsburgh, starting on Friday night. The pitchers will hit and an extra pinch-hitter is needed.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.