Notes: Touted Buckner to make debut
Second-round pick of 2004 Draft will join Royals' bullpen
KANSAS CITY -- Pitcher Billy Buckner had to know he was new when his name on the Royals' bulletin-board lineup sheet was spelled "BUKNER."
Coach Brian Poldberg, the computer wizard who types up the sheet, confessed he missed the 'C.'
"I didn't win any spelling bees when I was in school. You can print that," Poldberg said.
Buckner had a laugh over that. And why not? He was in the Major Leagues in a little over three years after being drafted in the second round of 2004's First-Year Player Draft. He was called up from Triple-A Omaha and placed on the Royals' roster on Friday.
As expected, right fielder Mark Teahen was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained muscle in his left elbow. Buckner took his roster spot, although he really replaces disabled Odalis Perez in the pitching staff.
Buckner, a right-hander, will pitch out of the bullpen in middle relief, although he'd been a starter most recently for Omaha.
"I started, relieved and started again," Buckner said.
Why the changing roles?
"I'm not sure. I was just told to take it as an opportunity. If there's another way to make it, then it's another way to make it. Just try it out. So I went to the bullpen," he said.
But the University of South Carolina product previously had always been a starter, entering this season with a 22-18 record and 4.40 ERA in three Minor League seasons. This year, he opened with Double-A Wichita and was 1-3 in four starts. Moving to Omaha, he was 9-7 with a 3.78 ERA in 27 games, including 15 starts.
"Fastball, curveball and change are my three pitches," he said. "The curveball has been my out-pitch forever."
It's a sharp-dropping curve, the 12-to-6 o'clock type, at least when it's working.
"My main focus this year has been getting ahead and in pitcher's counts," he said. "My strength this year has been not walking as many guys as I have in the past."
In 104 2/3 innings for Omaha, he walked just 26, compared to 83 strikeouts.
Buckner was born in Decatur, Ga., and was an All-State selection at Salem High in Conyers, Ga. Then, he went to Young Harris (Ga.) College before going to South Carolina where he helped the Gamecocks to the 2004 College World Series.
Monday will mark his 24th birthday.
Oh and, no, he's not related to first baseman Bill Buckner, who once played for the Royals.
Teahen optimistic: Teahen sat at his locker holding a bat, but he won't be swinging one for a while. That's the one thing that brings pain to his left elbow.
His stay on the DL is retroactive to Sunday, Aug. 19, and he's already counting the days to his return.
"I should be off on Monday, Sept. 3," he said.
Rotation change: Royals manager Buddy Bell said because of next Monday's open date, Kansas City will skip Leo Nunez's next turn of the starting rotation.
His normal turn would have been on Tuesday, but Brian Bannister will pitch instead, moving up from Wednesday. Zack Greinke will pitch on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Nunez will start next in an Aug. 31 doubleheader against the Twins in Minnesota.
Bunts: Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa threw two innings for Wichita on Wednesday night without feeling any pain in his left shoulder. "He pitched two innings, 46 pitches. He's healthy. That's a lot of pitches for two innings, isn't it?" Bell said. ... Right-hander John Thomson, on the DL because of a sore back, has returned from his rehab assignment because of a wrist problem. ... At 5:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, the MLB umpires assigned to the game against Cleveland will meet on the field with children from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Sweeney report: DH Mike Sweeney had a single in three at-bats for Omaha in a 6-0 loss to Round Rock on Friday night. He had a line-drive single to left field, then flied out to right and to left.
Sweeney began his injury rehabilitation assignment in the first game of a doubleheader. He is expected to be back on the Royals' roster on Sept. 1.
Royals rundown: DH Kila Kaaihue (.244) hit his ninth home run on Thursday, but Wichita lost the first game of its doubleheader against Arkansas, 12-4. Right fielder Geraldo Valentin had three RBIs as Wichita bounced back for a 7-2 win in the second game. ... Dan Cortes (6-8) pitched seven innings and struck out eight, and David Humen pitched the last two innings of Class A Wilmington's 8-0 win over Myrtle Beach. Third baseman Mario Lisson (.282) singled to extend his hitting streak to 18 games.
In Buck's seat: Bob and Shirley Legg of Kansas City, Mo., were in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat section on Friday night. Shirley coordinates a volunteer transportation system, "Wheels That Care," for elder adults at Shepherd's Center. Her No. 1 driver is Bob, who makes more than 20 round-trips weekly.
Coming up: The Royals meet the Cleveland Indians in the second of three games at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Kyle Davies will pitch for the Royals and lefty Aaron Laffey will go for the Tribe.
The first 20,000 fans will receive a Royals coffee tumbler, courtesy of MLB 2K7.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.