CHICAGO | The Royals added a little rock chalk to their organization Wednesday afternoon when they acquired third baseman Travis Metcalf from Texas in a waiver claim.
Metcalf, 26, was assigned to Class AAA Omaha, which opens its season Thursday night in Albuquerque.
The move boosts the Royals to 37 players on their 40-man roster.
Metcalf, a right-handed batter, was the Rangers’ 11th-round pick in the 2004 draft after attending Kansas, where he became the school’s single-season and career leader in home runs.
“He has an option left,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “He adds to our depth at third base, and he has a bat that we like.”
Metcalf offers some pop but it comes spiced with a high frequency of strikeouts.
He batted .249 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 80 games for Texas over the last two seasons. He also has a .258 average with 57 homers and 270 RBIs in 469 minor-league games over five seasons but has struck out 435 times in 1,954 at-bats.
“I was impressed (in spring training) in what little we did get to see him,” manager Trey Hillman said. “We did get to see (Metcalf) in several at-bats I was impressed with the way he moved around athletically in the infield.
“The right-handed bat and projectable power is certainly something that interests me.”
The Rangers designated Metcalf for assignment on Sunday. They replaced him Wednesday by signing ex-Royals infielder Esteban German.
Metcalf played at Kansas from 2002-04 and hit a school-record 18 homers in his final season, when he batted .285 with 58 RBIs in 63 games. He is the school’s all-time homer leader with 29.
“He could fill a void if something happens at the major-league level,” Picollo said. “He also provides us with some (power) that we might lack on our Triple-A roster.”
Metcalf was also a two-time selection to the all-state team while playing at Wamego (Kan.) High School. He led his team to the state championship as a senior in 2000.
DL time for Splittorff
Paul Splittorff is temporarily stepping away from his duties on the Royals’ TV broadcasts in order to spend more time recovering from a recent bacterial infection to his throat that resulted from a viral attack.
Splittorff made the decision in consultation with the Royals and Fox Sports Kansas City after serving on the crew for Tuesday’s opener against the White Sox.
“The chair is waiting for him when he returns,” said Mike Swanson, the Royals’ vice president for communications and broadcasting. “We all just thought it would be better right now for him to take a breather.”
Frank White will serve as Ryan Lefebvre’s partner in Splittorff’s absence. White was previously scheduled to work about 40 games of the 142 broadcasts as Lefebvre’s partner.
Kyle Farnsworth’s struggles Tuesday won’t affect his status in the late-inning mix.
“I don’t have it in the plans to change Kyle from being a seventh- or eighth-inning guy,” Hillman said. “But (Ron) Mahay, (Juan) Cruz and Farnsworth knew coming in that they could be mixed and matched in the seventh and eighth innings.
“It’s really not anything different.”
Luncheon tickets available
Some individual tickets remain for the Royals’ annual Welcome Home Luncheon on Monday at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center hotel in Kansas City. The cost is $55.
All players and field staff are expected to attend the luncheon. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the program begins at noon.
Those interested in tickets can call 816-921-8000.
Don’t look for Korean catcher Jin-ho Shin showing up in the organization’s minor-league statistics any time soon. The organization’s $600,000 investment still must complete high school this year in the Hwasun area of South Korea.
Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said Shin isn’t likely to begin his professional career before the Instructional League in September. Shin is the Royals’ first Korean signing.
The East Windup Chronicle, a website that tracks Asian prospects, characterizes Shin as “A very nice looking prospect, a big intimidating force behind the plate with a powerful bat and solid defense.”
Right-hander Brian Bannister is scheduled to pitch Thursday in Omaha’s season opener at Albuquerque. The rest of the Omaha rotation is Luke Hochevar, Brandon Duckworth, Heath Phillips and Bruce Chen.
The organization’s three other full-season affiliates also open their seasons Thursday: Class AA Northwest Arkansas at San Antonio; Class A Wilmington at Myrtle Beach; and Class A Burlington playing host to Clinton.
Right-hander Dan Cortes, the club’s minor-league pitcher of the year in 2008, will pitch for Northwest Arkansas.
It was nine years ago Thursday — April 9, 2000 — that the Royals and Twins accomplished something previously unprecedented in big-league history: Both teams had innings when they hit three consecutive homers.
Minnesota struck first. Ron Coomer, Jacque Jones and Matt LeCroy hit successive homers in the sixth against Brad Rigby. The Royals answered in the eighth with successive homers by Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Mike Sweeney.
Beltran and Dye went deep against Eddie Guardado. Sweeney homered against Hector Carrasco. The Royals scored seven runs in the eighth but still lost 13-7 at Kauffman Stadium.