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Jeffress back on mound for Royals

Former Halifax County High School standout pitcher Jeremy Jeffress has returned to the mound for the Kansas City Royals major league baseball team.

Jeffress was recalled from the Royals’ Class AAA Pacific Coast League Omaha team on Saturday to replace the Royals’ injured right-hand pitcher Greg Holland, who has since been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

The South Boston native was put on the mound as a relief pitcher in the Royals’ game Sunday against Toronto. In that game, Jeffress pitched one scoreless inning, allowing three hits, and a walk. One inherited runner scored.

The former Comets pitcher narrowly avoided serious injury on Sunday. Jeffress took a hard shot off of his right elbow when Toronto’s Jose Bautista drilled a hard line drive back to the mound. The ball hit Jeffress’ elbow so hard that it bounced to Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas in time for Moustakas to throw to first base and get the out.

Team reports Monday indicated that Jeffress is fine.

With the recall to the Royals major league team, Jeffress is getting another shot at the top level of baseball.

When Jeffress was called up Saturday from Omaha, he was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He had logged eight strikeouts, allowed just two earned runs, four hits and six walks in a total of 12 innings of work that spanned six appearances.

Those marks are much more impressive than the stats he posted last season. The hard-throwing right-hander struggled with his control last season, starting his first season with the Royals last April with 11 walks in 15 1/3 innings on the mound.

Jeffress was sent down to Omaha, continued to struggle there, and was then was sent to the Royals’ Class AA Northwest Arkansas minor league team. In nine games at Northwest Arkansas that included eight starts, Jeffress posted a 1-3 record and a 4.26 ERA. He had 40 walks in 55 2/3 innings.

Those struggles seem to be past Jeffress now.

His most recent numbers at Omaha are a big improvement. Published reports say Jeffress has added a slider to the assortment of pitches he can throw that includes a fastball, curveball and changeup, another element that is a step in the right direction for the 24-year-old hurler.