The Royals just announced that left-hander Jason Vargas is headed back to the disabled list due to a recurrence of a left flexor strain.
Vargas struggled with a 5.26 ERA over his first five starts prior to his first stint on the disabled list in early May. He missed three weeks and posted a 2.25 ERA with an 11/1 K/BB ratio in 16 innings over three starts since returning, but apparently he’s still not feeling right.
Vargas was scheduled to start Sunday against the Cardinals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that Chris Young will move up a day to take his place. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez will start Monday’s series opener against the Brewers before Joe Blanton will enter the rotation to start Tuesday. It’s worth noting that Yordano Ventura left last night’s start with irritation in his ulnar nerve, but Yost told McCullough that they don’t believe he’ll have to miss a start.
The Royals called up left-hander Brandon Finnegan to take Vargas’ spot on the active roster.
Joe Blanton is attempting a comeback after briefly going into retirement and the veteran starter showed up to Royals camp in The Best Shape Of His Life, but if he makes the team it’ll be as a reliever.
Royals manager Ned Yost made it very clear that Blanton is only being considered for a bullpen job, telling Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com:
The only way he is really going to help us is in the bullpen. We’re not going to stretch him out.
It’ll be an uphill climb for Blanton, because the Royals’ bullpen is one of the best in baseball and there aren’t many openings up for grabs even if he somehow looks good after not pitching in the majors at all last season.
Blanton has spent a decade in the big leagues pitching for five different teams, but 248 of his 265 career appearances have come as a starter and his only year with more than three relief outings was 2013 after he got bumped from the Angels’ rotation for pitching terribly.
Joe Blanton retired — practically speaking anyway — last season. But he’s making a comeback with the Royals this spring. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has a story about him today. Guess what?
Blanton, 34, weighed more than 250 pounds early in his career. But he’s in stunningly good shape this spring and reported to Surprise weighing in the range of 215 to 220 pounds. He also pronounced himself emotionally and mentally reinvigorated by a summer away from the game.
Hmm . . . “stunningly good shape?” Is that — could that be . . . ?
Blanton is 34 years old and has a combined 5.09 ERA in 541 innings dating back to 2010, so any edge he can get will be helpful. Good luck, Joe.
Joe Blanton, who went into semi-retirement in the middle of last season after being released by the Angels and the A’s, is now making a comeback and has signed a minor-league deal with the Royals.
Blanton held an open workout for interested teams earlier this month and must have looked reasonably decent to snag a deal, although obviously there’s zero risk involved for the Royals.
Blanton is 34 years old and has a combined 5.09 ERA in 541 innings dating back to 2010, but the bar for “decent fifth starter” is pretty low and teams can never have enough pitching depth.
Joe Blanton is going back to where it all began, signing a minor-league contract with the A’s after being released by the Angels last week.
Blanton was Oakland’s first-round pick out of the University of Kentucky in 2002 and spent three-and-a-half seasons in the A’s rotation before being traded to the Phillies in mid-2008.
In releasing Blanton the Angels ate the remaining $8.5 million on the two-year, $15 million deal they gave him as a free agent last offseason, simply wanting to rid themselves of the 33-year-old right-hander following a disastrous season in which he went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA.
Certainly the A’s would prefer not to have to rely on Blanton, but given how injuries have wrecked their rotation he could come in handy at some point if he can put together a decent stretch in the minors first.