January 2010

KC at Bat: First pitch at 3:10 on Opening Day

We’d heard that Royals games might start at 5 minutes after the hour this year but that obviously didn’t happen. It’ll still be 10 minutes after the hour for home games in 2010. The season opener at Kauffman Stadium on April 5 will have, we presume, Zack Greinke throwing the first pitch against the Tigers at 3:10 p.m. CT.

There’s just one holiday game at home this year, at 1:10 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 31, against the Angels. There’s also a 1:10 p.m. start for this year’s Saturday game against the Cardinals, set for June 26. That’ll give visiting Cardinals fans a chance to paint the town red on Saturday night. Regular start times at home will be 7:10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:10 p.m. Saturday and 1:10 p.m. Sunday. And, the Royals announced, no price increases this year for single-game tickets.

For Spring Training, the club will have 20 radio broadcasts starting on Thursday, March 4, against the Rangers. All the Cactus League games will be Webcast on royals.com, including those not on flagship station 610 Sports Radio. The radio voices remain the same – Denny Matthews, Bob Davis and Steve Stewart with Ryan Lefebvre from the TV crew also pitching in. Matthews will be launching his sixth decade behind the KC mike. Stewart will anchor the Webcasts. . . . The Royals are busy signing players with pitchers Dusty Hughes, Edgar Osuna and Blake Wood and catcher Manny Pina among the latest to ink their pacts. Osuna is the Rule 5 draft pick from the Braves. He’ll have to be kept on the regular-season roster or be offered back to the Braves for half the $50,000 purchase price. The Royals hope that Osuna, from Mazatlan, Mexico, will be as good an investment as their last Rule 5 pick from South of the Border, Joakim Soria. . . . Infielder Mario Lisson was the guy bumped from the 40-man roster when center fielder Rick Ankiel was signed. Lisson was designated for assignment. Earlier, the Royals dropped another infielder, Luis Hernandez. It’s possible, of course, that either or both could re-surface with Minor League deals.

— Dick Kaegel

Moore happy with improved D in the outfield

Seems like Dayton Moore was quite serious when he vowed to upgrade the Royals’ defense. Now he’s got three center fielders – Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and David DeJesus – roaming his 2010 outfield. That’s left, center and right, respectively.

And he’s pretty clear that Chris Getz, considered a better glove than Alberto Callaspo, will fill second base. And Jason Kendall supposedly is an improvement over the catching combo of Miguel Olivo and John Buck.

All this leaves Jose Guillen as the DH and Alberto Callaspo in limbo. Guillen will probably grumble because he views himself as a good outfielder and a complete player but, with his bad wheels barking, he didn’t move around all that well last year. Callaspo has to be disappointed because he had a breakout year with a .300 average and a bunch of extra-base hits and now there’s no place to play – not second, not even DH.

That should make for an interesting shakeout during Spring Training.

Ankiel looks forward to being in the middle of that outfield.

“All three of us could play center. I think we’re going to do well,” he said. “Certainly when you look around the league you can compare us with any other team.”

Ankiel indicated Monday that the virtual guarantee that he’d play center field swung his free-agent decision toward the Royals.

“I like center, I think you get a good view of the game, I think it keeps you into the game a little bit more, obviously you can get better jumps being right behind the pitcher,” Ankiel said. “I’ve played all three. They all have their different aspects, different angles but I like center better.”

Moore is happy with his new outfield acquisitions.

“You look at the free-agent pool that existed for the 2010 season and Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik are two of the better athletes in that group, period, and that’s not debatable,” he said.

–Dick Kaegel

 

 

Prospects aplenty in KCs Major League camp

Four of the Royals’ Top 10 prospects, as recently defined by Baseball America, will get a priority evaluation in the Major League Spring Training camp.

Pitcher Aaron Crow, rated No. 2, is on the 40-man roster and third baseman Mike Moustakas (No. 4), pitcher Danny Duffy (No. 8) and outfielder David Lough (No. 10) have also been invited.

The other six in the Top 10 are pitcher Mike Montgomery (1), catcher Wil Myers (3), first baseman Eric Hosmer (5), pitcher Tim Melville (6), pitcher John Lamb (7) and pitcher Chris Dwyer (9). They’ll be in the Minor League camp in the same complex at Surprise, Ariz.

Of the four Top 10ers in the big-league camp, Baseball America cites as Moustakas as the farm system’s best power hitter and best infield arm and Crow as having the best fastball and best slider. And, in the publication’s projected 2013 (yes, 2013!) lineup, Lough is seen as the center fielder and Moustakas as the right fielder (that Alex Gordon guy is still at third base) and Crow as the No. 4 starter. Duffy isn’t listed but neither is the projected bullpen so maybe he’s sitting out there in 2013.

Other up-and-comers from the Minors, already on the 40-man roster, that will get close scrutiny include catcher Manuel Pina, shortstop Jeff Bianchi, outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Jordan Parraz and pitchers  Noel Arguelles, Henry Barrera, Edgar Osuna and Blake Wood. Arguelles is the Cuban lefty the Royals signed for $7 million. And guys like slugging first baseman Kila Ka’aihue and shortstop-third baseman Mario Lisson will be back for another try.

It should be an interesting camp for getting an eyeful of the Royals’ future hopes.

–Dick Kaegel

 

Royals close to deal with outfielder Scott Podsednik

The Royals were close to signing a deal with outfielder Scott Podsednik on Friday.

Podsednik,  a free agent, is expected to take over the Royals’ center field spot. A speedster, the left-handed batter last season hit .304 for the Chicago White Sox with a .353 on-base percentage and 30 stolen bases.

No terms of the deal, expected to be signed if all went well with a physical examination in Kansas City, were known immediately.

The Royals began last season with Coco Crisp in center field but he was shut down after 49 games and subsequently underwent surgery on both shoulders. The Royals declined their $8-million contract option on Crisp for 2010 and he signed with the Oakland A’s.

The Royals also had talked to agents for prospective center fielders such as Rick Ankiel and Randy Winn but Podsednik had been in their sights most of the offseason. He seemed the most logical fit because he figures as a top-of-the-lineup batter along with left fielder David DeJesus.

The Royals also signed Brian Anderson, another ex-White Sox outfielder, this offseason and have holdover Mitch Maier as another experienced center fielder.

Podsednik, 33, has a .277 career average in nine Major League seasons with Seattle, Milwaukee, Colorado and the White Sox.

–Dick Kaegel

Royals Caravan to launch at Fort Riley

The Royals have been big supporters of the military and that continues with the launch of the 2010 Royals Caravan next Tuesday at Fort Riley in Kansas.

Hall of Famer George Brett will be joined by his old pal and former catcher Jamie Quirk and the noted “Joker” and ex-third baseman Joe Randa in meeting members of the Combat Aviation Brigade. The unit of more than 2,700 soldiers is preparing to deploy overseas in the nation’s war zone.

They’ll be joined by broadcaster Joel Goldberg for the visit from 11:15 to 12:45 p.m. CT on Tuesday. The group also will visit the Cottonwood Elementary School in Salina, Kan., at 2:15 p.m. and go to that night’s basketball game at Manhattan, Kansas State vs. Texas A&M.

Should be an interesting FanFest with the ’85 World Series boys coming in. Even Buddy Black, busy as the Padres manager, is taking time to join ex-pitching buddies such as Charlie Leibrandt, Bret Saberhagen and Danny Jackson. And Hal McRae will be there with his big smile and famous cackle. . . . We hear the Royals are planning to have an alumni game next summer with the ’85ers squaring off against some of the Cardinals’ alums from the I-70 Series. Wouldn’t it be nice if new Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog could join the fun? . . . Mike Sweeney will be at next Thursday night’s Royals Awards dinner to present the award named for him – which goes to the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. This year’s winner is first baseman Clint Robinson from the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He logged many hours at the community’s schools and camps and the local Children’s Hospital. He also hit .298 with 13 dingers. Sweeney last year was surprised with the Mr. Baseball Award for his long service to Kansas City. . . . Tickets for the dinner, by the way, are on sale at www.royals.com/awardsnight. It’s 75 bucks and gets you a look at Zack Greinke, Billy Butler, Brett, Frank White and many other celebs. It’s at the Overland Park Convention Center.

— Dick Kaegel