Royals’ bullpen shakeup sends Peralta back to minors

NEW YORK _ Veteran reliever Joel Peralta paid the price for his growing trend to surrender home runs when he was optioned to Class AAA Omaha before Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees.

The Royals replaced Peralta by purchasing the contract of right-hander Jeff Fulchino from Omaha. Fulchino, 28, was 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA in 14 games while splitting time as a swingman at Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas.

Fulchino spent seven seasons as a starter in the Marlins’ organization before signing with the Royals on Feb. 7 as a minor-league free agent. He made just one big-league appearance for Florida and faced just two batters on June 22, 2006 in an 8-5 victory at Baltimore.

He walked Kevin Millar before retiring Ramon Hernandez on a line drive back to the mound.

Fulchino is 38-36 with 4.40 ERA in 169 games, including 154 starts. He was in uniform for Sunday’s game and arrives well-rested; he hasn’t pitched since May 31.

Peralta, 32, departs with an 0-2 record and a 5.64 ERA in 22 1/3 innings over 18 appearances. He allowed seven home runs, including one to Jason Giambi in Saturday’s 12-11 loss to the Yankees.

Peralta was one of the bullpen’s top performers in 2006-07 before losing his job in spring training. He opened the season at Omaha but made just four appearances before being recalled April 17 when shoulder soreness forced John Bale to the disabled list.

Guillen at DH

José Guillen’s sore left shin was deemed strong enough to permit him to serve as the designated hitter. Guillen suffered the injury Saturday when he fouled off a pitch in sixth inning against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte.

Guillen exited Saturday’s game after 6½ innings but still produced one of the top performances of his career. He went three for four with two homers and a career-high seven RBIs. One of his homers was a grand slam. He also threw out two runners from right field.