CLEVELAND | Veteran right-hander Kip Wells is just hoping the world slows down a little now that he’s signed with the Royals.
It’s been a heck of a year that began with his 11-month-old daughter being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her spine. Wells then developed a blot clot in his pitching hand less than a month into the season.
Wells spent 10 weeks on the disabled list before a brief return to Colorado culminated in his release. That allowed him to be at home, at least, for the birth last Thursday of his first son.
“I’ve stayed busy enough in the last two weeks,” he admitted, “to not be overly clogging my head with (baseball) scenarios.”
Everything seems in order now. Daughter Georgia is fine, son Deacon is healthy and wife Emily is resting at home with both children in Houston with loads of family and friends for support. Time for baseball.
“I’m obviously excited to get out of the house and back on the field,” Wells said. “I was only home for five or six days. I was able to keep throwing and due diligence to stay ready.”
Wells, 31, agreed Tuesday to a one-year contract with the Royals and joined the club prior to their game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The Royals cleared roster space for Wells by optioning reliever Josh Newman to Class AAA Omaha.
“He’ll pitch out of the bullpen,” manager Trey Hillman said. “He’s deemed entirely healthy. He’s built-up as much as he needs to be to pitch long out of the pen. He’s ready to go today. We’ll utilize him from the sixth inning on.”
Newman, 26, allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings over three appearances since his Aug. 10 recall from Omaha.
Wells pitched primarily this season as a reliever at Colorado but spent most of his 10-year career as a starter. He does not appear to be a candidate to start Saturday in place of Kyle Davies, who was optioned last week to Class AAA Omaha.
“Not at this point, no,” Hillman said. “We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do yet (for Saturday). We’ll see how it goes through this series. Then we’ll make a decision, probably, at the last minute.”
Wells is 65-93 with a 4.64 ERA in 246 career games with five teams, including 1-2 and 5.27 this season in 15 appearances at Colorado. The Royals pursued Wells last winter as a free-agent option for their rotation before signing Brett Tomko.
“It wasn’t a total surprise,” Wells said, “that this was a potential fit.”
Wells represents a low-cost risk because he is already receiving $3.1 million in guaranteed salary from Colorado. The Royals will pay only a pro-rated share of the major-league minimum — about $90,000.
The signing bolsters a beleaguered bullpen. Ron Mahay remains slowed by a sore left foot, Ramon Ramirez are battling tightness in his right forearm and Jimmy Gobble continued to struggle in the minors while recovering from a sore lower back.
Wells has a 2.69 ERA in 41 career relief appearances, including a 2.80 mark in 21 outings over the last two seasons.
“I’m just like everybody else,” he said. “Keep the ball down, change speeds and get ahead (in the count). That’s about it.”
Mahay said he is “treading water” in his recovery from plantar fascia, which causes pain to the heel and bottom of his left foot.
“It’s the same,” he said. “I’m in limbo. I’ll just test it every day by playing catch and take the next step from there.”
Mahay has pitched only once since Aug. 6. He faced three batters Saturday at New York and walked two of them. He had a 1.75 ERA in 47 games when the pain started but has allowed eight runs in two innings over his last four appearances.
Want an idea of how advanced the Royals see first baseman Eric Hosmer, the 18-year-old selected with the third overall pick in the June draft?
Hosmer will bypass the Arizona Rookie League and begin his professional career Saturday at Idaho Falls. Such a jump is unusual for a high-school player, but the Royals did the same thing last year with infielder Mike Moustakas.
Hosmer is in game shape from a summer spent with the Midland (Ohio) Redskins, an amateur team for 16-18 year-olds in the Connie Mack League.
The Royals’ signing of pitcher Tim Melville in the fourth round was hailed by Baseball America draft analyst Jim Callis as the biggest coup in the recent draft.
The magazine ranked Melville as the No. 15 prospect in its pre-draft rankings. He fell to the fourth round because of signability concerns but signed with the Royals after agreeing to a $1.25 million bonus.
Callis wrote: “Kansas City got arguably the best high school pitcher in the draft in the fourth round.”
Baseball America also reports the Royals spent more than any other team in signing players drafted in the first 10 rounds: $10.165 million. Tampa Bay was second at $9.357 million, followed by Boston at $8.99 million.
Lefty Danny Duffy pitched five more shutout innings Monday night and got the victory when Class A Burlington won 1-0 at Quad Cities.
Duffy, 19, has allowed just one earned run in his last 32 1/3 innings over his last seven games. He improved to 8-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.20.
The victory enabled the Bees to maintain a 3½-game lead atop the Midwest League Western Division with 13 games remaining.
Duffy was the Royals’ third-round pick in 2007. He has 102 strikeouts and 25 walks this season in 81 2/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .193 batting average.