Notes: Hochevar among many recalled
Duckworth in bullpen; De La Rosa, Perez won't be in rotation
ARLINGTON -- Craig Brazell and Luke Hochevar highlighted a series of roster moves before Monday's game against the Rangers.
Brazell and Paul Phillips had their Triple-A contracts purchased, while Hochevar and Justin Huber, currently on the 40-man roster, were recalled. Because Omaha finished its season Monday, none of them will be activated until Tuesday.
Mark Teahen was also activated from the disabled list Monday after missing the last two weeks with a left forearm strain. Kyle Davies and Leo Nunez, optioned to Double-A Wichita in paper moves, were also recalled Monday.
Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 First Year Player Draft and a current member of the Royals 40-man roster, went 1-3 with a 5.12 ERA in 10 starts at Omaha. He will be used out of the bullpen unless a spot opens in the rotation.
After an inconsistent start, Hochevar has pitched very well in his last four outings, including tossing six innings of two-run, two-hit ball Monday afternoon. Those four starts have yielded a 2.88 ERA and a 22:7 strikeout to walk ratio in 25 innings. The organization, which has set no timetable for Hochevar, believes he can contend for a spot on the 2008 Opening Day roster.
"The kid is throwing really well," manager Buddy Bell said. "All of our player development people have recommended this. The way I look at it, if somebody has a chance to make our club out of Spring Training, I think they should be here. Just because of the way he has pitched, he may have a chance to compete for a spot on our pitching staff."
Brazell, 27, enjoyed one of the best seasons by any Minor Leaguer. He led all Minor League levels in homers (39) and hit .307 with 32 homers and 76 RBIs at Triple-A.
A left-handed-hitting power threat, Brazell can only play first base and designated hitter. However, the Royals were very impressed with his offensive production. Like Hochevar, Brazell could have a chance to make the Royals in 2008.
"We just felt like he deserved it," Bell said. "It was more of a reward than anything. Yeah, with that kind of power, just more of a reward and someone that will come to Spring Training if he is still with our organization. I don't know about how the roster will all work out over the winter."
As expected, Teahen was also activated. He was back in the lineup, hitting fifth and playing right field.
"We just tried to be smart about it and just hit off the tee and then hit flips and then hit on the field and kind of built back up to team speed," he said.
Duckworth back in bullpen: After he tossed 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs against the Twins on Saturday afternoon, Brandon Duckworth was put back in the bullpen.
Duckworth, who has made 19 appearances this season (three starts), was going to be the sixth member of the Royals' six-man rotation. Bell may use the six-man, but wants other starters to still receive plenty of action.
"We may go to a six-man after the off-day [Thursday], but the problem with that is, is that it takes away innings from Davies and [Billy] Buckner and [Zack] Greinke, so we are not really sure what we are going to do there. We would prefer the guys to get innings, rather than to take innings away."
De La Rosa, Perez update: Bell said it is unlikely Jorge De La Rosa or Odalis Perez will rejoin the rotation this season.
De La Rosa, placed on the disabled list on Aug. 1 with a left elbow strain, threw 1 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on two hits for Wichita on Sunday night.
De La Rosa has also experienced neck problems recently and said it felt "better" Monday.
"He more than likely won't be in the rotation," Bell said. "To get him stretched out would be pretty close to impossible with all of his health issues."
Pitching coach Bob McClure said De La Rosa will long toss Monday and, if everything is fine, will throw a bullpen Tuesday.
Perez, on the DL since Aug. 22 with a left knee sprain, threw off flat ground for the first time Monday.
"Odalis thinks he can come back, but there is no way that he can come back in the rotation," Bell said.
Smith hopeful: Jason Smith said he should be able to play Monday night. Smith was spiked near the Achilles tendon by Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman and didn't play in the weekend series against Minnesota.
"I could not walk Friday and Saturday," Smith said.
Bannister for ROY? Brian Bannister continues to make a strong case for American League Rookie of the Year honors. After he tossed eight innings of one-run ball Sunday afternoon, Bannister ranks first in rookie ERA (3.16) and trails Daisuke Matsuzaka by one in wins (12).
By one measure, at least, Bannister is currently the best rookie in the American League. According to Baseball Prospectus' Value of Replacement Player (VORP statistic), Bannister stands at 41.9, slightly ahead of Matsuzaka's 41.2.
Royals rundown: Daniel Cortes earned the win in Class A Wilmington's 2-1 victory over Potomac. Cortes, acquired from the White Sox in the Mike McDougal trade, bumped his record to 8-8 and lowered his ERA to 3.07. Marc Maddux went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored and raised his season average to .259. ... Class A Burlington lost, 3-2, to Clinton. Daniel Gutierrez tossed six innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and striking out 10. Gutierrez, the Royals' 33rd pick in the 2005 Draft, is 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA this season. ... Adavanced Rookie League Idaho Falls lost, 9-4, to Orem. Mike Moustakas, the Royals' first-round pick in June, continued his fine season with a 1-for-2 performance. He is batting .391 in 23 at-bats.
Coming up: Buckner (0-0, 1.17 ERA) will make his first Major League start Tuesday night against Rangers right-hander Kevin Millwood (9-11, 5.11 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.