KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sean Manaea never threw a pitch for the Kansas City Royals, who drafted him as a competitive balance pick after the first round in 2013.
Yet, Manaea was key to the Royals winning the 2015 World Series.
The Royals traded the talented hard-throwing left-hander to the Oakland Athletics along with Aaron Brooks for Ben Zobrist on July 28, 2015. Without Zobrist's key contributions, the Royals likely would not have won the World Series. Without giving up a valuable asset like Manaea, the trade probably would not have been finalized.
On Wednesday, the Royals will face Manaea for the first time. Royals manager Ned Yost saw the glowing reports on Manaea but was not a witness of his prowess.
"We didn't see much because he was hurt all the time," Yost said. "He went to spring training with high expectations and both spring trainings he was hurt and never pitched much. We never got to see him with our own eyes, but just thought if he ever got healthy, he'd be a heckuva pitcher."
Manaea has not been injury-free with the A's his rookie season. He was on the 15-day disabled list in June with a left pronator strain. He was 2-4 with a 6.02 ERA in nine starts when he went on the disabled list. He is 3-5 with a 3.28 ERA in a dozen games, including 11 starts, since coming off the disabled list.
Manaea, however, will be pitching for the first time since Aug. 29, when he left a 6-0 loss at Houston after 3 1/3 innings with a strained left rhomboid after giving up two runs on one hit and two walks while striking out four.
A's manager Bob Melvin will be cautious with Manaea in his first outing back.
"I don't like to go out there and say potential pitch count," Melvin said. "It's going to be how he feels, and ups are just as important, potentially, as pitches, but it won't be a full complement like we've seen in the past."
Manaea has never won on the road. He is 0-6 with a 6.44 ERA and opponents hitting .302 off him in eight away starts. His career-opening road losing streak matches the longest in Oakland history. Mike Morgan lost six straight road decisions from June 17, 1978, to July 24, 1979.
Overall, Manaea is 5-9 with a 4.40 ERA, striking out 104 and walking 32, while allowing 120 hits, including 19 home runs, in 120 2/3 innings.
The Royals have lost their Kauffman Stadium magic, losing six of their past seven home games.
They will counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura, who yielded a season-high 10 hits to the Chicago White Sox in losing his previous start Friday. Ventura is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA against the Athletics in his previous two outings. He has not faced them since April 18, 2015, falling 5-0 at Kansas City.
Ventura is 6-3 with a 4.09 ERA this season at Kauffman Stadium, but he has made just three home starts since the All-Star break. He is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in those starts.