Right-handed from Saturday afternoon relief thrower Wyatt Mills still had more plane flights as a member of the Kansas City Royals organization than as a Royal.
The flights, an exchange, the barrage of new faces and names, and a promotion from the minors to the majors have all been part of a week Mills rightly described as a “whirlwind.”
Mills, acquired as part of the Carlos Santana trade with the Seattle Mariners, joined the Royals on Friday-evening in the opening game of the Royals against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Of course, even Mills’ commute to the baseball field in Detroit couldn’t have happened without his share of hiccups. Traveling over a holiday weekend made his last-minute trips anything but seamless.
“I got here in the third inning, it wasn’t the smoothest transition at the airport so it got 30 minutes later than I thought,” Mills said of joining the club on Friday night. “But (came here) in the third inning. I got changed really quickly, ran out, was ready to go. †
Mills said the delay in reaching the ballpark was related to a 30-40 minute wait for luggage coming off his flight and then navigating traffic in an Uber.
Mills pitched for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate the previous night, the Omaha Storm Chasers† That was his only appearance for the Royals organization at any level since being treated by the Mariners on Monday.
“The swap happened while I was on a plane from Houston back to Tacoma,” Mills said. “We land and my manager comes up and says, ‘Did you check your phone?’ I’m like no. “Well, you traded to Kansas City.” So that’s how I found out.
“Most people leave the airport to go home rather than take the bus back to the field, so I haven’t really been able to say goodbye to many people.
“Right at Omaha, played in one game and then called up quite unexpectedly. Thought I’d have some time to acclimate but no complaints here on the call. †
Mills threw the bullpen in the middle of Friday night’s game.
If the timing seemed odd, warm up while starting pitcher Brad Keller was cruising with his first five innings on 54 pitches, it was because Mills didn’t prepare to get into the game.
He was, in fact, doing a modified version of the pre-game throwing that he would normally have done on the field before the start of the game.
In eight appearances in the majors this season, Mills posted a 4.15 ERA (four runs earned in 8 2/3 innings) with a 0.92 WHIP, an opponent batting average of .179 and six strikeouts in three innings of work.
This season in the minors, Mills registered a 1.74 ERA, with a 1.02 WHIP, an opponent batting average of .178, 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 17 appearances (20 2/3 innings).
He is almost unfamiliar with the players on the Royals’ current Major League roster, other than having pitched against hitters. Emmanuel Rivera and Edward Olivares† But Mills took some solace in the idea that the Royals had been watching him for years.
The fact that they openly said they liked me (and) I was told they tried to trade for me a few years ago and it didn’t work out – now they have a chance it worked out for them – Of course I you’re somewhere you’re loved and they’ve got plans for you,” Mills said.
“I feel like I’m in a good place and so far the team has been very welcoming. It’s been a great experience so far.”