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Royals notebook: 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 today’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.

“He’s a fresh arm,” manager Trey Hillman said. “He’s been built up, but he has been moved to the bullpen. We needed a fresh arm after what we’ve been through for the last several games but especially (Saturday).”

Fulchino, 6 feet 5 and 252 pounds, worked a scoreless eighth inning in the 6-3 loss to the Yankees. He retired three straight hitters after issuing a leadoff walk.

“I liked what I saw,” Hillman said. “You’ve got to like the size. He looks like a workhorse out there. I liked the delivery. It seems smooth. The ball jumps out of his hand a little bit.”

Fulchino spent seven seasons as a starter in the Marlins’ organization before undergoing shoulder surgery last June and becoming a free agent after the season. He signed a minor-league deal Feb. 7 with the Royals.

“This is the first year when I’ve relieved on a regular basis,” he said. “It took some getting used to, but the more I’ve done it, the more I enjoy it.”

Fulchino is 38-36 with 4.40 ERA in 169 minor-league games, including 154 starts. He made just one big-league appearance for the Marlins — on June 22, 2006 at Baltimore.

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.

“He’s a guy who has options,” Hillman said. “He needs to go down and learn to command the ball better again. He can fill several roles, but he’s lacking command right now.”

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.

GATHRIGHT INJURES SHOULDER

Center fielder Joey Gathright produced an entire highlight reel of sparkling defensive plays, including an amazing diving catch that injured his left shoulder and puts his availability in question for today’s series finale.

“If I’m not hitting,” he said, “nobody is hitting. That’s how I look at it.”

The shoulder injury occurred in the fifth when Gathright sprinted in and made a diving catch on Hideki Matsui’s soft flare.

“It’s going to be sore (today) ,” Gathright said, “but we’ll just see how bad it is when I wake up. It’s the labrum. It’s not the first time. It probably won’t be the last. It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with.”

Hillman said Gathright was “questionable” for Monday’s game.

Gathright crashed into the wall while making one catch on Robinson Cano’s drive in the second inning. He also threw out Alex Rodriguez’s bid to stretch a double into a triple in the seventh. Gathright made the throw from left field after backing up David DeJesus, who failed in an attempt at a diving catch.

“We’ve talked about the expansive area he needs to cover in our home ballpark,” Hillman said. “This is no different, especially in left-center and center field. I really believe he’s the only guy who we’ve got who can run some of those balls down.”

TEAHEN BATS THIRD

Third baseman Alex Gordon returned to the lineup after a one-game rest but dropped to fifth in the lineup. Mark Teahen batted third for the second consecutive game. Gordon had batted third for 21 straight games through Friday.

Why the switch?

“I like the way Mark is swinging the bat,” Hillman said, “and I don’t like the way Alex is swinging the bat.”

Maybe it’s the three hole itself.

Teahen went zero for four after entering the game on a 15-for-47 run. Gordon ended a zero-for-14 drought with a single in his first at-bat.

TRYOUT CAMP

OK, you’ve seen the Royals. Think you can do better? Here’s your chance.

The club is holding an open tryout camp Tuesday morning at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe.

Each participant is required to sign a liability waiver. Those under age 21 must have their waiver also signed by a parent or guardian. American Legion players must bring a letter of permission signed by their Legion coach or post commander.

Copies of the waiver can be found on the Royals’ website at www.royals.com. Copies will also be available at the camp.

Registration is free and begins at 8 a.m. The camp starts at 9 a.m. Participants must bring their own equipment.

ETC.

Miguel Olivo reached second on a strikeout/wild pitch in the sixth inning. He took advantage of slow pursuit of the wild pitch by Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Scoring rules do not permit Posada being charged with an error on the play.

José Guillen is batting .367 with seven homers and 32 RBIs in 30 games since May 7.

David DeJesus extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a double in the third inning. His career-best streak is 15 games on two occasions in 2004.

Zack Greinke is 0-2 with a 14.90 ERA in three career appearances at Yankee Stadium.

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