Pucetas Finds Opportunity In Change





SURPRISE, Ariz. Kevin Pucetas was in Atlanta last October for a playoff game with the Giants. He had a seat a few rows behind the dugout and visited with several Giants players, hoping to be part of their 2011 pitching staff.

The next day he received a call from Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans that he has going to the Royals as the player to be named for Jose Guillen.

"It was unexpected," Pucetas said. "It came out of nowhere. Your life can be shaken up real quick in this game with one phone call."

Pucetas almost made the Giants' big league staff out of spring training in 2010, but Todd Wellemeyer won the final rotation slot. Pucetas returned to Triple-A Fresno, where he went 5-7, 5.69 with 95 strikeouts and 61 walks in 136 innings. He missed three weeks with a ligament injury to his right ankle.

"I tried to pitch through it and it forced me into some bad habits, started sinking down on my back leg a little too much," Pucetas said. "It did more harm than good in the long run."

To make up for the time lost, Pucetas went to the Dominican League in the offseason, going 2-3, 3.75 while walking just five in 36 innings. Carlos Arroyo, a pitching coach in the Phillies organization, tinkered with his delivery and got him more over the top.

"It got me to pitching downhill and helped me find the lower part of the strike zone again," he said.

Pucetas, 26, was a 17th-round draft pick in 2006 out of Limestone (S.C.). Pucetas entered Limestone at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, and throwing 80 mph. By the time he graduated, he was 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, growing five inches between his junior and senior year, and topped out at 94 mph. While his best pitch is a changeup, he also throws a curveball and slider.

"I went to Limestone to get a degree," he said. "(Professional) baseball wasn't even a thought for me. It wasn't realistic because I was short and throwing maybe 82 tops. Guys like that don't get drafted."

ROYALTIES

Chino Cadahia, the Braves' bench coach the past four years for Bobby Cox, joined the Royals as a special assistant in player development. He had been in the Braves organization for 15 years. The Royals drafted him in 1980 as a catcher and he played five years in their farm system.

• The Royals hired Glenn Hubbard as minor league infield instructor. Hubbard had been the Braves first-base coach for 12 years.