Nothing is certain, but the uncertainty of the Royals’ rotation almost certainly will lead to changes.
The Royals had hoped to have Felipe Paulino return from the disabled list and back in the major league rotation this week. Instead, Paulino has a torn ligament in his pitching elbow, and he is likely headed for surgery.
Starting pitchers Vin Mazzaro, Luis Mendoza and Jonathan Sanchez were treated none too kindly by the Cardinals, who swept Kansas City in a weekend series at Kauffman Stadium. The trio was charged with 17 runs in 11 1/3 innings.
Everett Teaford is the leading candidate to be recalled Wednesday from Class AAA Omaha to start against the Rays. He was 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in three appearances, including one start, for Kansas City earlier this season.
Doug Davis is also being considered for a move into the rotation. The 36-year-old veteran, who signed a minor league contract with the Royals on May 12, was selected the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week Monday, having given up one run in 12 innings while winning two starts.
Manager Ned Yost prefers Mendoza as a long reliever. Mazzaro was assigned Monday to the bullpen in that capacity. Sanchez will remain in the rotation for the time being.
At least the Royals have one starting pitcher on a roll. Luke Hochevar fired a seven-hit shutout Monday in an 8-0 win over Tampa Bay, earning his second win in as many starts.
— RHP Luke Hochevar has picked up back-to-back wins for the first time this season, as he shut out the Rays 8-0 on seven hits Monday night. It was his first complete game since May 20, 2010, at Cleveland and the fourth of his career. His only other shutout was Sept. 18, 2009, against the White Sox. In beating Tampa Bay and Houston in his past two starts, Hochevar has allowed 12 hits and no runs in 16 2/3 innings, striking out 14 and walking five.
— SS Alcides Escobar went 3-for-3 and is hitting .400 (22-for-55) in his past 15 games. Escobar was in a .111 (3-for-27) slump in the eight games before the hot streak.
— 1B Eric Hosmer returned to the lineup Monday, hitting sixth against the Rays, after having Sunday off. Hosmer went 2-for-4 with a home run and raised his average to .218. He was in a 1-for-11 skid before the game.
— C Manny Pina, who had knee surgery in spring training, began a rehab assignment Monday with the Royals’ affiliate in the rookie-level Arizona League. Pina stroked a RBI double to right in his first at-bat, had a sacrifice fly and walked in his final plate appearance. Pina also, threw out a runner attempting to steal second.
— OF Lorenzo Cain homered Monday in his seventh rehab game for Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Cain, the Royals’ opening-day center fielder, appeared in only five games for Kansas City before going on the disabled list due to a torn hip flexor. He is 5-for-24 (.208) on his rehab assignment.
— RHP Roman Colon, who was designated for assignment Saturday, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Class AAA Omaha. In three relief appearances for Kansas City, Colon had a 6.75 ERA.
BY THE NUMBERS: .426— LF Alex Gordon’s batting average in his past 14 games. He has scored 14 runs in that span.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I guess I have to come up with a better word than fantastic, tremendous and great. He was phenomenal. The results have been dramatically improved since he got back to his three core pitches. He’s starting to show exactly what he can do.” — Manager Ned Yost, on RHP Luke Hochevar, who pitched a seven-hit shutout Monday night against the Rays.