SURPRISE, Ariz. — Shawn Camp came into the Kansas City Royals spring training as an unheralded, nonroster invitee with little chance to make the club.
Camp has pitched so well that he may break camp with a spot in the Royals’ bullpen. In eight games, Camp is 2-0 with one save and a 2.38 earned run average, while walking one and striking out nine in 11 1/3 innings.
“I’m just kind of coming out of the woods and hopefully I’ll be noticed,” Camp said.
Camp, 28, has a 25-20 record with a 3.57 ERA in seven minor league seasons after the San Diego Padres drafted him in the 16th round in 1997 out of George Mason University.
Camp was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in July 2001, and has spent the past 2 1/2 seasons pitching for their Class AAA Nashville and Class AA Altoona clubs.
He was in the Pirates’ big league camp last spring, but not for long.
Camp became a minor league free agent after the 2003 season, and Jin Wong, the Royals director of baseball operations who was a teammate of Camp’s in a Virginia high school summer league in the mid-1990s, called him.
“It took only two days for me to make my decision,” Camp said. “I heard a lot of good things about the Royals. The bond here is something.”
Camp is getting a long look in the Royals’ camp and is making a favorable impression. He has always thrown a good sinker and has shown a slider in spring training that he will need to consistently throw for strikes to keep major league hitters off balance.
“This kid has pitched well the whole spring,” Royals manager Tony Pena said.
In a three-inning scoreless performance Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers, he allowed one hit and struck out three.
“He had good movement on his fastball and a good slider,” Pena said.
Camp said his slider wasn’t as effective earlier in the season.
“Now I’m able to throw it behind in the count,” he said.
“Hopefully when the decision is made, I’ll be able to go north,” Camp said. “Hopefully, I’ve made a good impression in spring training. If I do go to Omaha (the Royals’ Class AAA club), I’ll do my best there and hopefully help this team out in the year.”