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Jun 2, 2024 9:43 am

Nelson Velazquez, Royals bid to avert sweep vs. Padres

Nelson Velazquez

Nelson Velazquez is rediscovering his power stroke.

As the Kansas City Royals bid to salvage the finale of their three-game series against the visiting San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon, Velazquez has six homers in his last 14 games.

That streak is similar to his 2023 breakout when he hit 14 homers in 40 games.

Before his recent power surge, Velazquez had just two homers in 37 games and saw a need to refocus.

“I’ve been working in the cage with hitting coaches,” he said. “Everything we’re trying together has been working so far.”

“They’ve been working on some of the mechanics, trying to get him back closer to where he was last year,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said after Velazquez’s two-homer effort at Minnesota on May 29. “A little more stabilized legs, you see better swings, you see better takes. It usually starts with the foundation. If your legs are strong, your base is strong, you usually put better swings on it.”

Velazquez tends to be an all-or-nothing hitter, with 54 strikeouts to go with eight homers in 168 at-bats. Lately he has been more selective, even recording his first two-walk game of the season on May 22 vs. Detroit.

“I just stay (with) my plan,” he said. “Just trying to stay in the middle, hit the ball, and see what happens. I think when you put everything together, walks, hits, good things happen.”

Left-hander Cole Ragans (4-4, 3.36 ERA) will start the series finale for Kansas City on Sunday. He has yet to face the Padres in his career.

Ragans took the loss in his most recent outing. He surrendered three runs (two earned) on eight hits in five innings of a 4-2 setback against Minnesota on Tuesday.

Right-hander Michael King (4-4, 4.09 ERA) will take the mound Sunday for San Diego, which will go for its first series sweep of the season.

In five career appearances (two starts) against the Royals, King is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. He surrendered four runs on eight hits, including three home runs, while taking the loss in the New York Yankees’ season finale last year.

King allowed one run on three hits and struck out seven in five innings in a no-decision against the Marlins on Tuesday.

The Padres’ rotation took a hit Saturday as two right-handed starters were shelved with injuries. Joe Musgrove suffered a recurrence of right elbow inflammation, and Yu Darvish went to the 15-day injured list with a left groin/hamstring strain.

“The last pitch of Joe’s last side he felt, in the same area, some inflammation in the back of the elbow,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “Structurally, we feel like everything’s good. Just the repetitiveness of the inflammation in the back of his elbow is not going to let him finish his pitches the way he wants to finish his pitches.”

Musgrove’s scheduled Saturday start went to Randy Vasquez, who was recalled from Triple-A El Paso. Vasquez allowed three runs on four hits in San Diego’s 7-3 win.

“We’re going to support Joe and Yu while they’re out, and people are going to step up and do great things in their stead,” Shildt said. “It was a good job by Randy.”

San Diego is expected to make another transaction to fill Darvish’s scheduled start against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.

“The feedback from yesterday was better, but we know (those injuries) can be tricky,” Shildt said. “We want to make sure we get it behind him. We don’t think it’s anything long-term serious, but it’s something that’s going to require some rest.”

–Field Level Media

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