7/10/2014 12:20 A.M. ET
Herrera overcomes tightness in right shoulder
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera avoided the disabled list, overcoming tightness in his pitching shoulder, and worked two-thirds of an inning for the Royals in a 5-4 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night.
Herrera had not pitched since the opener of the Royals' nine-game road trip on June 30. He went 1 2/3 innings at Minnesota, but he reported tightness three days later.
"So, we stayed away from him in Cleveland, stayed away from the first day [against Tampa Bay] and we were going to make a decision [Tuesday], and he passed all his tests," manager Ned Yost said. "It was either you're pitching or going on the DL. Can't afford to go short."
Herrera threw a bullpen session on Tuesday, showing his shoulder was OK, but that workout kept him from being available for that night's game.
"I couldn't get him back hot again for last night even though we probably needed him," Yost said.
But when starter Yordano Ventura left after five innings on Wednesday night, Herrera was brought in for the sixth. Herrera got two outs, but he gave up two hits and a walk, and was pulled with the bases loaded. Left-hander Scott Downs came in, threw one pitch and got the third out.
"Herrera looked OK. A little rusty but he got his fastball up to 100 [mph] and no complications there," Yost said.
Herrera was relieved that his shoulder had recovered.
"It's a long season and I've got to feel 100 percent," he said.
Moustakas sidelined by flu for finale against Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Third baseman Mike Moustakas joined the growing roster of medically afflicted Royals players on Wednesday.
Moustakas was bumped from the starting lineup against the Rays because of flu.
"He was throwing up all night," manager Ned Yost said before the rubber game.
Moustakas' left-handed bat was supposed to be in the lineup against Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, but Moustakas' right-handed counterpart, Danny Valencia, took his spot.
"Moose is in the training room looking like death warmed over," Yost said.
Left fielder Alex Gordon was also scratched because of a sprained right wrist and starting pitcher Jason Vargas was in the hospital, awaiting appendix surgery.
"I heard [Vargas] was sick, then Moose came in sick and now I'm like, 'Oh, Lord, I hope this isn't an epidemic,'" Yost said. "But everybody [else] is doing OK."
Jirschele struck in face by ball during BP
ST. PETERSBURG -- Not even the Royals' coaching staff can avoid checking into the training room. Third-base coach Mike Jirschele was wearing a bandage on the right side of his face after being struck by a ball during early batting practice on Wednesday.
"He didn't see it coming. Luckily, it was just a grazing blow but it cut him," manager Ned Yost said.
Jirschele said he had a "strawberry" on the side of his face, but he planned to discard the bandage before taking the field for Wednesday night's game.
"I'm not wearing that thing out there, I don't care if I die of infection," he said.
Jirschele said it's the third time he's been drilled by a ball this season. First-base coach Rusty Kuntz sustained a broken wrist when struck during batting practice on April 21 at Cleveland and missed a couple weeks in the coaching box.
Shields visits dog named 'Big Game James'
ST. PETERSBURG -- Pitcher James Shields might be with the Royals now, but he's still a favorite in the Tampa Bay area.
Shields entered the Royals' clubhouse leading a black Labrador retriever which, he said, a Rays fan had named "Big Game James" in his honor and was an American Kennel Club grand champion. He had a framed certificate to prove it.
"If you want to be a champion, touch him," Shields told his teammates.
Salvador Perez petted the dog and Bruce Chen successfully told him to "sit." Shields said they didn't have to call the dog "Big Game James." Too formal.
"Call him 'Shieldsy,'" he said.
• The Royals Blood Drive will be held over the next several days at Kansas City-area Community Blood Center locations. Fans who register and schedule an appointment at savealifenow.org will receive tickets to a Royals game and a commemorative Royals T-shirt (while supplies last).
• Catcher Francisco Pena of the Omaha Storm Chasers will be in the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night at Durham, N.H. Pena has a career-high 15 homers this season. One of his Pacific Coast League Derby teammates will be ex-Royal Mike Jacobs, now with the Diamondbacks' club at Reno.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.