Royals bring All-Star closer Greg Holland off disabled list
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Royals' dominant bullpen got even tougher Wednesday when All-Star closer Greg Holland was activated from the disabled list before their game against the Cleveland Indians.
Holland had been out with a strained pectoral muscle since April 18, the day after picking up his fourth save of the season. Holland had been dealing with tightness in his chest muscle for a while, and the Royals finally decided to shut him down for seven days.
Now, after ramping back up, Holland said he was ready to close whenever he was needed.
''I feel really good today,'' he said. ''That's all that matters.''
The Royals optioned reliever Yohan Pino to Triple-A Omaha to clear roster space in a series of roster moves. They also put catcher Erik Kratz on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis and recalled catcher Francisco Pena from Omaha.
Pino may be a testament to just how stingy Kansas City's bullpen has been, even without Holland at the back end. He allowed just seven hits in 10 2-3 scoreless innings, helping to give Kansas City's relief corpse a major league-best 1.08 ERA entering Wednesday night. But with options remaining, he was the natural choice to head back to the minors.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he won't treat Holland any differently than usual.
''We'll just be smart and monitor it and see how he's feeling,'' Yost said. ''He's feeling really good. He feels like he's ready to close tonight, and he's one of the best closers in the game. We're happy to get him back.''
Wade Davis, who had racked up six saves with Holland on the DL, will return to his usual eighth-inning role. Davis has allowed just five hits in 11 scoreless innings this season.
In other news, outfielder Lorenzo Cain returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the White Sox. He sat out Sunday's series finale with Detroit and the opener of a three-game set with the Indians on Tuesday night.
''I'm used to being on the everyday grind with my teammates. It's definitely tough to watch,'' Cain said. ''But at the same time, the days off definitely helped my legs.''
Speaking of suspensions, the Royals are still awaiting word on whether Kelvin Herrera will have his reduced. Herrera was dinged two games for throwing at the A's Brett Lawrie and five more for his role in that White Sox brawl. His appeal was heard on Monday.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar, who is on the seven-day disabled list for a concussion, took batting practice in the cage and fielded some ground balls. He plans to take the computerized test that determines whether he can be activated before Thursday's game.
''He felt really good,'' Yost said. ''But again, he has to pass the computer test.''
Yost also said reliever Luke Hochevar, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, has been progressing in his rehab stint with Omaha. The former No. 1 overall draft pick threw a scoreless inning on Tuesday in his ninth appearance with the Storm Chasers.
The 30th day of Hochevar's rehab assignment is Friday, which means the Royals must recall him to the majors or designate him for assignment. Considering Hochevar signed to a two-year contract this past winter, it's a near-certainty that he'll rejoin the club this weekend in Detroit.
''He's throwing the ball good,'' Yost said. ''Throwing strikes with all his pitches.''
When asked when Hochevar will be back, the manager replied: ''Soon.''