KC signs veteran reliever Mota to Minor League deal
Well-traveled right-hander, 40, hasn't pitched in Majors since '12 with Giants
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals, noted for their young, hard-throwing bullpen, will explore adding some age and experience to it next season.
Right-hander Guillermo Mota, 40, was signed to a Minor League contract by the Royals and invited to the Major League Spring Training camp, the club announced on Thursday.
As the Royals prepare for what is expected to be a contending season in the American League Central, they're adding some veteran arms at least for a look-see when camp opens on Feb. 14 at Surprise, Ariz. They also confirmed on Thursday the signing of 35-year-old starting pitcher Brad Penny.
Mota, like Penny, did not pitch in the Majors last season, but both played for the Giants in 2012.
In 2012, Mota made 26 appearances, finishing 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA, but pitched only 20 2/3 innings because of a suspension.
"Mota's always been a strike thrower with a real good changeup, and he's throwing well in winter ball and we just wanted to create more depth in the bullpen," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
In nine games this winter for the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican League, Mota has a 3.24 ERA. In 8 1/3 innings, he has seven strikeouts and three walks.
Mota began his Major League career in 1999 as a member of the Montreal Expos and has pitched for six other organizations: the Dodgers (2002-04, 2009), Marlins (2004-05), Indians (2006), Mets (2006-07), Brewers (2008, when current Royals manager Ned Yost was the skipper) and Giants (2010-12).
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Mota owns a 39-45 career record, 10 saves and a 3.94 ERA in 743 relief appearances. Only five pitchers have made more relief appearances since 1999.
While with the Giants, Mota was suspended in May 2012 for 100 games after testing positive for Clenbuterol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, his second violation. His agent blamed the second positive test on a children's cough medicine, saying at the time that it contained "trace amounts of a prohibited substance."
At the time, Mota told reporters: "I did not read the label. It was a mistake."
For his previous violation, he was suspended for the first 50 games of the Mets' season in 2007. A third violation would mean a lifetime ban from the game.
"Some of our people know him very well and they believe that's behind him," Moore said. "It's a Minor League deal and there's not a lot of risk there."
From San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Mota originally signed with the Mets in 1990 as a third baseman and later played shortstop. Taken in the Rule 5 Draft of 1996 by the Expos, he was converted to a pitcher and made his big league debut in 1999.
In his well-traveled career, Mota has reached the postseason three times -- with the Mets in 2006, the Brewers in '08 and the World Series champion Giants in '10. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in that World Series.
He's been traded six times, including once in a 2004 Trade Deadline deal that sent him to the Marlins and Penny to the Dodgers.
Mota's career has also included some notable controversies involving batters that he's hit with pitches. While with the Dodgers in '02 and '03, he went to war with the Mets' Mike Piazza both times in Spring Training games. During his second stint with the Dodgers in '09, he was ejected after plunking the Brewers' Prince Fielder, who later tried unsuccessfully to enter the Dodgers' clubhouse in search of Mota.
He's worked a lot into 14 big league seasons.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.