As of Saturday afternoon, right-handed relief pitcher Wyatt Mills had still taken more plane flights as a member of the Kansas City Royals organization than he’d made appearances as a Royal.
The flights, a trade, the barrage of new faces and names and a promotion from the minors to the majors have all been part of a week Mills appropriately described as a “whirlwind.”
Mills, acquired as part of the Carlos Santana trade with the Seattle Mariners, joined the Royals on Friday night during the Royals’ series opener against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Of course, even Mills’ commute to the ballpark in Detroit couldn’t occur without its share of hiccups. Traveling on a holiday weekend made his last-minute travel anything but seamless.
“I got here in the third inning, it wasn’t the smoothest transition at the airport, so it turned into 30 minutes later than I thought,” Mills said of joining the club on Friday night. “But (got here) in the third inning. Got changed real quick, ran out, was ready to go.”
Mills said the delay getting to the ballpark had to do with a 30-40 minute wait for bags coming off his flight and then navigating through traffic in an Uber.
Mills pitched the previous night for the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, the Omaha Storm Chasers. That was his lone appearance for the Royals organization at any level since being dealt by the Mariners on Monday.
“The trade happened while I was on an airplane from Houston back to Tacoma,” Mills said. “We land and my manager comes up and is like, ‘Have you been checking your phone?’ I’m like no. ‘Well, you’ve been traded to Kansas City.’ So that’s how I found out.
“Most people leave from the airport to go back home instead of taking the bus back to the field, so I didn’t really get to say bye to many people.
“Right to Omaha, played in one game and then called up kind of unexpectedly. I thought that I was going to have a little time to get acclimated, but no complaints here on the call-up.”
Mills did throw in the bullpen in the middle of Friday night’s game.
If the timing appeared odd, warming up while starting pitcher Brad Keller was cruising through his first five innings on 54 pitches, it’s because Mills wasn’t preparing to enter the game.
He was basically doing a modified version of the pre-game throwing he would typically 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 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings) with a 0.92 WHIP, a .179 opponent’s batting average and six strikeouts in three innings of work.
This season in the minors, Mills posted a 1.74 ERA, with a 1.02 WHIP, a .178 opponent’s batting average, 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 17 appearances (20 2/3 innings).
He has almost no familiarity with the players on the Royals’ current major-league roster other than having pitched to hitters Emmanuel Rivera and Edward Olivares. But Mills did take a measure of comfort in the idea that the Royals had been keeping tabs on him for years.
“The fact that they’ve openly said that they liked me (and) I was told that they tried to trade for me a couple years ago and it didn’t go through — now they have their chance that it worked out for them — obviously you want to be somewhere that you’re liked and they have plans for you,” Mills said.
“I feel like I’m in a good spot, and so far the team has been really welcoming. It’s a great experience so far.”