Royals lose Paulino to injury, get Perez off DL

Royals manager Ned Yost has been around baseball his entire

life, and he has a hard time recalling a season in which two

pitchers needed Tommy John surgery.

Let alone four.

Felipe Paulino tore a ligament in his right elbow and likely

will join Danny Duffy, Joakim Soria and Blake Wood in having

reconstructive elbow surgery, putting a damper on the long-awaited

return of catcher Salvador Perez from the disabled list.

The Royals said Paulino will get a second opinion from Los

Angeles Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum, but the

right-hander said surgery is a certainty.

Yocum also performed Tommy John surgery on Duffy, Soria and

Wood.

”You check around and see how many pitchers are going down with

Tommy John this year. It’s a very disturbing number,” Yost said

before Friday night’s game against St. Louis.

”I don’t have the reason why,” Yost said. ”I don’t know why

there’s such a big number of guys going down with Tommy John

surgeries this year, but we’re not immune to it by any stretch of

the imagination, and our numbers have added greatly to it.”

The injury to Paulino is particularly devastating to the Royals

because he had emerged as their most dependable starter, going 3-1

with a 1.67 ERA in seven starts this season.

Paulino opened the year on the DL because of a strained left

forearm, and was coming off six innings of three-hit ball against

Oakland when he hurt his groin June 6. He landed on the DL again,

but was working his way back on a rehab assignment when he hurt his

elbow.

He was pulled after throwing 54 pitches in three innings

Wednesday night.

”It really surprised me,” Paulino said. ”I was just on my

rehab, getting ready to make my start Monday, and it just

happened.”

Paulino said he knew something bad happened when he felt pain in

his elbow, but he doesn’t think the injury had anything to do with

his strained forearm or the groin injury.

”I never felt that before,” Paulino said. ”I was supposed to

go three innings, four innings, and in the third inning, something

happened.”

The Royals lost Duffy when the promising young left-hander was

pulled from a start May 13 at the White Sox and was found to have

torn elbow ligaments. Jonathan Sanchez has spent time on the DL

this season, and fill-in starter Everett Teaford also has been

hurt.

All told, Kansas City has used 10 starting pitchers this

year.

”Obviously, it’s changed our plans for the rest of the year,”

Yost said. ”You’ve got to move on. What’s happened has happened.

It was a big blow when we lost Duffy. It was a big blow when we

lost Soria and Blake Wood the same way. But the world doesn’t stop

turning. It gives somebody an opportunity that they might not have

had otherwise to show what they can do.”

It’s unclear who will move into the rotation in Paulino’s place,

though Will Smith and Nate Adcock have made starts for Kansas City.

Jake Odorizzi might finally get his chance at the big leagues after

going 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA at Omaha, while fellow Triple-A prospects

Mike Montgomery (3-3, 4.79) and Ryan Verdugo (5-2, 3.65) also could

get a look.

The 22-year-old Perez made a big impression on the Royals late

last season, hitting .331 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 39

games. It was enough for Kansas City to sign him to a $7 million,

five-year deal that includes three team option years during spring

training.

Perez tore cartilage in his knee on March 13, shortly after

signing the new contract.

The Royals purposely took it slow with his rehab, making sure

Perez could catch a full nine innings before he returned to the big

league club, and he hit .340 during 12 games at Omaha.

”I feel more than great,” Perez said. ”I don’t even want to

think about (the injury), but it was probably one of the most

frustrating things I’ve ever been through.”

Kansas City acquired Humberto Quintero after Perez got hurt, and

he’s split time behind the plate with Brayan Pena. Yost said he’ll

carry all three catchers for now.

The Royals made roster space for Perez by optioning left-hander

Tommy Hottovy to Omaha and transferring outfielder Lorenzo Cain to

the 60-day DL. Cain has been out with a hip injury, but he’s

already spent more than 60 days on the DL, which means he can

return at any time.

He resumed a rehab assignment this week and could be back before

the All-Star break.