KANSAS CITY -- It looks like Jack is back.One week after being demoted, Joakim Soria was reinstated as the Royals' closer. Soria pitched two clean innings in Kansas City's 3-2 extra-innings win over the Blue Jays Monday and after the game, manager Ned Yost said Soria would take over as his ninth-inning role. "I told him after the game he's ready. That's five pretty dominant innings of relief work for him," Yost said. "I told Aaron [Crow] that he'll move back into the eighth-inning spot, and that sets our bullpen up really nice." Yost wanted Soria to pitch in lower-pressure situations and work multiple innings until he proved he was back to his old self. After the move, Soria was dominant, essentially getting two more outs than needed, as two batters reached on throwing errors. In three appearances, he pitched five shutout innings, with no hits or walks allowed. "I always felt good," Soria said. "I'm hitting better spots right now, I feel better in my command and that's a big key." Crow was named closer after Soria blew a save against the Angels on May 30 but never saw a save situation. Soria gave up a two-run go-ahead home run to Torii Hunter and asked to step down from his role after the game. That loss marked the third time in four outings Soria, a two-time All-Star, had blown a save. The right-hander is 7-for-12 this season in save opportunities after going 43-for-46 in 2010. Yost appreciated how honest Soria was about his struggles and especially liked seeing him return to vintage form. "He's done it with a lot of class, he's done it with a lot of dignity," Yost said. "He stepped back when he felt like he was hurting the team and he stepped back to make adjustments so that he could come back and help the team." And Soria's excited to get back to closing games. "Of course," Soria said. "I'm ready to help my team, to try to get saves and get wins."
Mazzaro stepping in for injured O'Sullivan
KANSAS CITY -- TBA turns out to be Vin Mazzaro. The right-hander will be recalled from Triple-A Omaha to start for the Royals on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays.Mazzaro will step into the spot vacated when Sean O'Sullivan went on the disabled list Friday with right biceps tendinitis. The Royals listed the spot as TBA -- to be announced -- until manager Ned Yost made the announcement on Monday. "He's gone back and thrown three straight quality starts and we need to give him an opportunity. We need to give him a chance. We need to give him a look," Yost said. Mazzaro has had an up-and-down existence since being obtained by the Royals last winter from the Oakland A's in exchange for outfielder David DeJesus. He won the No. 5 starting job in Spring Training but, not needed immediately, he was sent to Omaha for a warmup start but did so poorly (seven walks, five runs in 2 1/3 innings) that O'Sullivan took his spot. Mazzaro recovered enough to be recalled on May 11 for a start at Yankee Stadium when Bruce Chen went on the DL. Rushed to New York, he pitched with little sleep and lasted four innings, making 94 pitches but giving up only two runs. Scheduled for another start against the Indians, Mazzaro was rushed into the previous night's game in relief on May 16 and took a terrific lashing -- 14 runs in 2 1/3 innings. That was the most runs given up by a Major League relief pitcher since World War II. Immediately after, he was sent back to Omaha. "We've got to give him a chance under fairer circumstances than he got last time," Yost said. By posting a 2.84 ERA in his last three games, Mazzaro has whittled his Omaha mark to 4.06 to go with a 3-0 record. He has 42 strikeouts and 20 walks in 44 1/3 innings. Mazzaro is likely to get at least two starts for the Royals while Chen and Kyle Davies are off on a rehab assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Reliever Jesse Chavez, called up on Friday, was returned to Omaha to make room for Mazzaro. He gave up three hits and two runs in one inning against the Twins on Sunday.
Injured Kendall nearing return to Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Jason Kendall took batting practice on the field for the first time on Monday, accelerating his return to the Royals' active roster."He's making really good progress," manager Ned Yost said. "When he broke those adhesions in his shoulder, it took his rehab to a different level." The adhesions in Kendall's right shoulder, the result of extensive surgery on Sept. 3, came loose about 10 days ago and his ability to throw and hit improved almost immediately. Kendall could report to the Royals' camp at Surprise, Ariz., to continue his work before the end of June.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.