From ‘broken’ to back in Kansas City, lefty Foster Griffin returns to the KC Royals

·3 min read
Carlos Osorio/AP

While a player making his Major League Baseball debut is usually a time for celebration, the opposite was true for Royals left-hander Foster Griffin.

Pitching on his 25th birthday in Detroit, Griffin threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball and was the winning pitcher in the Royals’ 14-6 victory over the Tigers on July 27, 2020. However, Griffin suffered an elbow injury in the outing that required Tommy John surgery.

“He was broken, just broken,” Royals manager Mike Matheny recalled Friday when asked about Griffin’s debut. “He worked so hard to get here and have it all crash down. ... That was a day that rattled him for sure. Rightfully so. It’s a scary time.”

Twenty-two months later, Griffin walked back into the Royals’ clubhouse. He was recalled from Triple-A Omaha as part of a mass of moves before Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins.

Griffin, 26, made 13 appearances for the Storm Chasers this season. He had a 1.83 ERA with 23 strikeouts and four walks in 19 2/3 innings.

In the Royals’ 6-4 loss to the Twins on Friday, Griffin threw a hitless seventh inning.

“It was an emotional day for sure,” Griffin said. “I didn’t sleep great last night. But once I got in here and put the spikes on and got on the field, it was all kind of coming back to me and definitely emotional day. But I was able to kind of control it once I got out there and just go out and attack the hitters.”

Griffin had a small group of family at Kauffman Stadium to see his triumphant return: his wife, parents and one of his close friends from high school.

They saw Griffin threw all of eight pitches, six for strikes, as he made quick work of the top three hitters in the Twins order.

“I was predetermined just to kind of make this one a different outing, leave with a smile on my face this time,” Griffin said. “So yeah, that was pretty surreal to see it come full circle like this.”

Hernández to Omaha

The Royals also sent right-hander Carlos Hernández to Omaha on Friday, while reliever Ronald Bolaños was placed on the injured list, right-hander Matt Peacock was recalled and infielder Adalberto Mondesi was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Hernández has struggled to find his footing this year. Opponents are hitting .352 against him and he has a 9.10 ERA. He has walked 20 and struck out 16 in 29 2/3 innings.

This is a 180 from a year ago, when Hernández had a 3.68 ERA in 24 games, striking out 74 in 85 2/3 innings with 41 walks.

“There’s some things mechanically. He needs to be better at repeating (his delivery) which we know he can,” Matheny said. “It’s just gonna come down to execution. So how do you get yourself into a place where you can execute?”

Matheny pointed to his head and added, “And most of it is here.”

Hernández has a “long list” of things to work on at Omaha, but Matheny stressed he’s confident the 25-year-old can do what’s needed to return to the Royals.

Peacock was recalled because Bolaños, who has a 2.81 ERA in six appearances, was placed on the COVID injured list (although that doesn’t necessarily mean he has contracted the coronavirus).

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