KANSAS CITY -- Aaron Brooks was supposed to be making his first start in Triple-A on Saturday, pitching for Omaha against Nashville.
Instead Brooks was in the Kansas City bullpen, ready to make his first Major League appearance, if necessary. Quite a dramatic change for the 24-year-old right-hander from San Bernardino, Calif.
"I'm glad to be here. Hopefully I can come in here and get acclimated to the team and do what I've got to do," he said.
Royals manager Ned Yost decided he needed a 12th pitcher -- and seventh reliever -- on his staff. So backup infielder Pedro Ciriaco was designated for assignment and Brooks was summoned from Omaha.
"I'm at 11 pitchers, I used four or five guys [Friday]," Yost said. "I can use these guys two and three days in a row as long as we have a lead. If we don't have a lead, it's senseless to use these guys to get through innings. So I needed that 12th guy to suck up innings."
The Royals were somewhat limited because they couldn't call up anyone on the 40-man roster who had been optioned to the Minor Leagues in the last 10 days. So that eliminated pitchers such as Danny Duffy and Chris Dwyer. Brooks wasn't on the 40-man roster so he was promoted and then placed on the 40-man.
Brooks was in the Major League Spring Training camp this year after being named Pitcher of Year for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. That was the highest level he's reached and he went 7-7 with a 4.17 ERA for the Naturals.
"He's never pitched above Double-A," Yost said. "He was supposed to start today in Triple-A so he's lengthened out. He can throw 85 pitches. The thing that I liked about him in Spring Training was that he had pitchability. He threw strikes, he wasn't overwhelmed by the situation in his first big league Spring Training. I've got to have somebody that can throw strikes."
Last year for Northwest Arkansas and Class A Advanced Wilmington, Brooks threw a total of 160 innings. He struck out 110 and walked only 22.
"I throw a lot of strikes, force contact and eat some innings up, for sure," Brooks said.
Right-hander Louis Coleman, now on the disabled list, is continuing to rehab from a finger bone bruise in Arizona and is expected to be ready to return in a few days. If so, Brooks could be sent back to Omaha.
"It might be a short stay so we'll see what happens," Yost said.
Brooks did not pitch in Saturday's game, nor did Yordano Ventura, the starter temporarily assigned to the bullpen. During the game, Ventura threw a light side session in preparation for his start Tuesday night against the Rays. So his bullpen time is over.
Brooks, told during Friday night's Omaha game that he was being called up, seemed a little dazzled by his unexpected promotion.
"I don't think it's set in yet," he said.
One thing that he didn't regret was missing his first Triple-A start.
"No, definitely not," he said. "I'll take this any day."
The raw rookie doesn't lack in confidence.
"It's a real honor for them to give me a shot. Obviously, they feel confident in my abilities," Brooks said. "I feel like I belong here."
Ciriaco designated for assignment
KANSAS CITY -- Infielder Pedro Ciriaco is gone but not forgotten. In fact, the Royals hope to get him back.
On Saturday, Ciriaco was designated for assignment when the Royals brought up right-hander Aaron Brooks to beef up the pitching staff.
Ciriaco, 28, was on Kansas City's Opening Day roster primarily as a backup for second baseman Omar Infante, who's had a troublesome right elbow.
"We wanted to try to provide some insurance if Omar's elbow continued to flare up. It hasn't and he feels really good. We needed that 12th pitcher so we went ahead and made the move," manager Ned Yost said.
The Royals have 10 days in which to trade, release or put Ciriaco on waivers.
"But release isn't in the option," Yost said.
The Royals would like to keep Ciriaco in the organization, but they couldn't ship him to Triple-A Omaha because he's out of options. That puts him in limbo for 10 days, the same fate that befell outfielder Carlos Peguero recently. Peguero eventually got through the 10-day period and was assigned to Omaha.
With Ciriaco out, that means the Royals' only backup infielder is Danny Valencia, primarily a third baseman who also played first base in the Minors. Valencia, however, did spend time at second base in Spring Training and could fill in if necessary.
Also, if shortstop Alcides Escobar had to leave a game because of injury, Yost is prepared to move Infante to shortstop and use Valencia at second.
"That would get us through the day," Yost said.
There are other infielders available at Omaha as well.
"We've got Jason Donald, hopefully we'll have Ciriaco back down there, we've got Christian Colon and Johnny Giavotella if it's a second-base spot," Yost said. "We definitely have options."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.