Dotel says KC's devotion swayed him
Opportunity to close, attention from officials key in decision
KANSAS CITY -- Octavio Dotel was emphatic. His right elbow is OK.
"I'm coming off Tommy John [elbow reconstruction surgery] after almost two years but I'm feeling good, in great shape," he told reporters Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.
Dotel, signed as the Royals' closer for 2007, came to Kansas City for a physical examination by team physician Dr. Steve Joyce, who gave a thumb's up.
Dotel's return with the New York Yankees last season was rocky -- a 10.80 ERA in 14 games -- but general manager Dayton Moore said the Royals' scouts were impressed.
"Our scouts feel his quality stuff has returned," Moore said. "The New York Yankees who lived with him all summer wanted him back, and that tells us a lot."
Dotel attracted interest from other clubs, too, but chose the Royals because they could assure him the closer's role.
"Over here we lost a lot of games late in the game and this is the spot [to be]," he said. "I think I'm the guy that they need."
Manager Buddy Bell, who joined Dotel and Moore for the session, agreed.
"We needed somebody to come here with some experience closing," Bell said. "I don't know how many starts that Luke [Hudson] lost just because we couldn't get to the end of the game."
Dotel, modeling Royals uniform No. 28, proved to be an amiable chap from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where one of his buddies is Royals infielder Esteban German.
In 395 career games with the New York Mets, Houston Astros, Oakland A's and Yankees, Dotel has 71 saves in 99 chances.
"I can pitch back-to-back games," he said of his healed elbow. "If I need to pitch three days straight, I don't think there's a problem."
But, really, why did he choose the Royals?
"They're the team that showed me more love, and that's why I'm here now," he said.
Cut coming: The Royals will have to drop a player from the 40-man roster to make room for Dotel.
To clear a space for starter Gil Meche, they designated for assignment pitcher Brandon Duckworth.
Bell back: Bell had his first extensive session with Kansas City reporters since leaving the club for throat surgery late last season.
"I don't want to do it again," he said. "But thankfully, I had a great doctor and great support and I appreciate that."
Bell said he'd lost about 30 pounds after the surgery but has gained back about 10.
"Other than a couple of scars I didn't have a couple of months ago, I'm the same," he said. "I really feel better than I have in three or four years."
Febles in fold: Former Royals second baseman Carlos Febles has been hired by the club as a coach for their new rookie classification club at Burlington, N.C.
"We just wanted to get him in the system. We can always use another coach, especially if he's bilingual," Moore said.
Febles, 30, had his playing career cut short by injuries. Also from the Dominican Republic, he was with the Royals for six years and batted .250 in 506 games, 1998-2003.
The ebullient Febles was a popular player when he and Carlos Beltran came up together and formed the "Dos Carlos" combination.
Witty moves on: David Witty, who spent 21 seasons with the Royals, has resigned to become vice president and general manager of the University of Nebraska sports network.
Witty was vice president of communications and marketing for the Royals after serving 14 years as director of team travel.
He joins the Nebraska network, operated by Host Communications of Lexington, Ky., after developing the Royals Sports Television Network and directing the Royals Radio Network.
It's a merging of two loves for Witty.
"I've always been a strong supporter of the University of Nebraska but it's also the job, what I've been doing here," he said. "It combines my interest in Nebraska with my experience with RSTN."
For Witty, a career highlight was guiding the Major League All-Stars on their tour of Japan in 1998.
He'll join the Cornhuskers on Dec. 31 for their Cotton Bowl date with Auburn.
No replacement has been named for Witty or for Aaron Babcock, who resigned earlier as director of media relations.
Love me tender: Moore said there will be no non-tendered players on the current 40-man roster. Tuesday was the deadline for making that decision. All the Royals can look for contracts in the mail.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.