116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — C.J. Eldred has been around baseball long enough to where Sunday afternoon was no big deal. At least that’s what he claimed.
“Just another game,” the former Mount Vernon prep and Iowa Hawkeyes pitcher said, after he pitched for the Quad Cities River Bandits in their 7-5 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I’m just trying to stay comfortable out there. Maybe if I was younger, it might have been a little awkward. But it was just another game.”
Eldred was assigned to Quad Cities on Saturday from low-Class A Columbia, making this homecoming possible. Approximately 25 family members and friends, including his mother, brother and sisters, cheered him on.
The 26-year-old right-hander is in his third season in the Kansas City Royals organization. He had Tommy John surgery his senior season at Iowa in 2017, got an offer to sign as a non-drafted free agent in August of that year and began his pro career in 2018.
Eldred’s dad, Cal, is pitching coach for Kansas City and pitched parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues.
“I’ve been all over the country,” C.J. Eldred said. “From Arizona to Columbia, S.C. I was there two days ago, then it was flying here. Missed flights, delays, all sorts of things. It is what it is, though. I’m enjoying it. Who wouldn’t want to do this?”
Eldred got a late start to this season because of a stress reaction in a bone in his elbow. He pitched four games in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League in late July and early August, made two starts for Columbia and got moved to the High-A Central League. He relieved starter Yohanse Morel in the third inning here, pitched three innings and gave up seven hits and five runs.
Wander Javier touched him for a two-out, game-tying home run in the fifth.
“I felt pretty good. Honestly, that last inning I felt pretty good,” Eldred said. “Got a couple of rollovers that got through the hole (for singles), then I left a fastball up, and he did to it what they’re supposed to. But, honestly, overall I felt pretty good.
“It was quite a long shutdown. I’m starting to kind of get my feet wet again. This is August for most guys. This is my April. So, yeah, I’m getting more comfortable every time I throw.”
Quad Cities (56-26) won five of six games in this series, showing everyone why it is the league’s best team. The River Bandits scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on a John Rave RBI single, then added an insurance run in the eighth on a Logan Porter opposite-field solo home run.
QC scored 37 runs in this series against a team that has the High-A Central’s best earned run average. The Kernels (45-39) are 4-12 this season against the River Bandits.
Cedar Rapids somehow remained in a tie with Great Lakes for second place overall in the league. Whichever team, regardless of division, finishes second behind presumably Quad Cities would meet the River Bandits in a best-of-5 league championship series.
As usual, the league has Monday off, with the Kernels then beginning a six-game series Tuesday at Peoria. Following Sunday’s game, pitcher Tyler Beck was told he is being promoted to Double-A Wichita.
Beck went 2-2 with a 2.47 earned run average in 14 appearances here, 11 starts. He gave up just 42 hits in 58 1/3 innings, striking out 64.
Catcher Jeferson Morales made his Kernels debut Sunday, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He joined the club Friday from low-A Fort Myers, replacing catcher Jair Camargo on the active roster.
Camargo is on the Injured List with a hamstring strain.
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