This is an interesting development, but it starts off with a pretty major insult to pitchers everywhere:
Tony Pena Jr. has hit like a pitcher for the past two years, so the Kansas City Royals plan to convert him to one.
Pena, who was the Royals' shortstop on opening day in 2007 and 2008, has hit .156 with 62 strikeouts and eight walks in 276 at-bats the last two years. He was designated for assignment July 16 with a .098 average and one extra-base hit.
After clearing waivers, the Royals outrighted him Friday to Class AAA Omaha, but instead of reporting to the Pacific Coast League, Pena could be taking a detour to the Royals' complex in Surprise, Ariz., to work off the mound.
Zero downside here. If he can pitch, great. If he can't, well, at least he has not taken any at bats away from anyone in the meantime.
More generally speaking, if managers are going to increasingly go La Russa on us and insist on 12 and 13-man bullpens, the least they can do is to have one of those bullpen arms be able to do something else like bunt or pinch run or serve as a defensive replacement or something.