May 2010

Meche goes on DL, Chen to start, Marte recalled

Right-hander Gil Meche’s long trail of travail took another bad turn on Saturday when the Royals placed him on the 15-day disabled list because of bursitis in his pitching shoulder.

His scheduled Sunday start against the Red Sox will be taken by left-hander Bruce Chen. Right-hander Victor Marte was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take Meche’s spot on the roster.

Meche’s ailment is believed to be related to the shoulder problems he had during Spring Training. His first start of the season was delayed several days as he continued to recover. He’s made nine starts but was without a victory at 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA.

In his last outing on Tuesday night against Texas, Meche pitched six innings and gave up six runs, all resulting from four homers.

Throughout the season, Meche has contended that his physical condition was good and that his shoulder was OK. He pitched one complete game on May 8, an eight-inning loss to Texas in which he threw 128 pitches, fourth-most in his career.

Chen has pitched 10 games out of the bullpen this season with a 1-0 record and 2.89 ERA. The veteran has 121 big league starts with a 28-40 record and 4.70 ERA in that role.

Marte was with the Royals briefly earlier this season and appeared in one game. For Omaha, he has a 3-1 record, two saves and a 3.46 ERA in 14 relief appearances.

–Dick Kaegel

Yost remembers crucial home run in Fenway visit

Being at Fenway Park gave Royals manager Ned Yost a chance, when prompted by reporters, to re-live his crucial home run for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982. It was a three-run, ninth-inning shot over the Green Monster that gave the Brew Crew a 6-3 win over the Red Sox in the waning days of their championship run.

“The funny thing about it, it was like a college atmosphere. The players met me halfway (to the plate) because they knew how big it was, too,” Yost recalled..

There was more to the story.

“I put on the shin guards and the pitcher came over and grabbed me by the shirt and yelled, ‘Hey! We’ve got three more outs to go. Now get your head in the game!’ I said, ‘All right, all right,’ ” Yost said, sitting on the same bench in the visitors’ dugout..

Yost paused for the kicker.

“The pitcher was Bob McClure.”

McClure, of course, is now Yost’s pitching coach with the Royals.

That Yost tale and others were included in a lengthy feature story posted on royals.com Tuesday.

Yost and the Brewers went on to win the division title that weekend at Baltimore and, of course, wound up in the 1982 World Series which they lost to the Cardinals. Yost, as the backup catcher, got just one at-bat in the Fall Classic.

“I walked,” Yost said. “I never walked and I got up against John Stuper and I said, ‘This is my one World Series appearance and I’m going deep.’ I was swinging out of my rear end, trying to hit a home run and the guy ended up walking me.”

One home run that entire year was all that Yost would get but it was a big one.

–Dick Kaegel

Revenge on Rangers gets a toast from Yost

Ned Yost was hoping the Royals had long memories when they faced the Texas Rangers on Tuesday and Wednesday. In fact, short memories would do because the Rangers’ embarrassing four-game sweep of the Royals took place just last May 6-9.

“Absolutely,” Yost said. “I think that if everybody on our team doesn’t want to extract a little revenge, there’s something wrong with them because that wasn’t a fun series for anybody. I mean I watched it on TV and it wasn’t fun for me.”

The sweep at Texas likely was the last straw for Trey Hillman as manager of the Royals. Three days later, he was dismissed. And so each of these two games is not just another ballgame.

“Go ahead, get ready, boys, get back at ’em. That’s my philosophy,” Yost said.

“I don’t think it’s like a playoff-type mindset but you definitely remember those types of situations when you go in and you have a rough series and you get swept. It’s fresh in their minds and I don’t think they want that to happen again.”

Left fielder Alex Gordon went 3-for-4 and raised his average to .362 in Triple-A Omaha’s 4-1 win over Colorado Springs. Even though Gordon is hitting well and making progress as he converts to the outfield, the Royals brought up infielder Wilson Betemit instead of Gordon on Tuesday. That made sense because Gordon needs to continue playing, not sit on the bench at Kansas City. There’s no spot right now in KC where he could be playing every day unless Mitch Maier was lifted from the outfield and he’s been a solid player as Rick Ankiel’s replacement in center. . . . Left-hander Edgar Osuna is 5-1 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas after pitching eight innings of a 7-3 win over Arkansas. His ERA is 1.21 and, oddly enough, opponents have scored more unearned runs (12) than earned runs (7) during his nine games.

— Dick Kaegel

 

Moustakas on fast track with hot start in Double-A

Third baseman Mike Moustakas keeps lighting up the sky at Springdale, Ark. He blasted a couple of two-run homers for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Thursday as the Naturals completed a four-game sweep of Tulsa. That brought his Texas League-leading average to .394 and he was tied for the league lead in homers, 10, and RBIs, 33. And that’s despite missing 12 games because of injury.

Royals manager Ned Yost, who assessed Moustakas before taking the managerial job, was asked about the Moose’s rise toward the Major Leagues.

“He swung the bat for me very, very well. Played very good defensively there. I mean he’s getting closer,” Yost said. “There’s no thing like just going out and playing and getting experience at that level. The thing that I keep looking at in these guys is they’re getting closer. When he is ready to go, we’ll know when that time it but he’s definitely getting closer.”

Could Moustakas be thrown out onto the Kauffman Stadium diamond right now?

“I don’t have to throw him out there now so that’s something I don’t have to think about,” Yost said. “If there was something that happened and we needed a third baseman, well, then we’ll sit back and look at it. But that’s not the case now and again I try to look every single day I try to look how we can make our club better with the guys here. He’s definitely in the plans for us long-term but, as of today, we keep going with what we’re going with and we’ve done all right.”

Right-hander Aaron Crow pitched that victory for the Naturals, improving his record to 2-3. . . . Eric Hosmer’s double in Single-A Wilmington’s 9-2 loss at Lynchburg put him second in Carolina League with 16. He was leading the league with a .384 mark. . . . Twelve-year-old Dylan Peters of Olathe, Kan., was in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat on Friday night. He wrote an award-winning book, “Tic Talk – Living with Tourette Syndrome” and has spoken to thousands of kids in the Kansas City area about accepting and comforting those who suffer from personal challenges.

–Dick Kaegel

Gordon named PCL Hitter of the Week

Alex Gordon’s stay at Triple-A Omaha is going well. He was named Pacific Coast League Hitter of the Week. Gordon posted a .500 average (11-for-22) with three doubles, three homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs. He was also doing well in his conversion to left field from third base and threw out a runner at home plate.

It’s birthday time for the Royals. Jose Guillen turned 34 on Monday and Joakim Soria’s 26th is on Tuesday. . . .  David DeJesus’ streak of errorless games had reached 188 games going into Monday night’s game against the Orioles. That was the third-longest streak among active outfielders. The Yankees’ Randy Winn was at 229 games and the Mets’ Jason Bay was at 222. Fourth was DeJesus’ teammate, Mitch Maier, with 165. . . . Who noticed this? Royals PR veep Mike Swanson certainly did. On Sunday, when the White Sox pitched Gavin Floyd against Brian Bannister, it marked the first Floyd-Bannister combination on the Kauffman Stadium mound since 1992. That was when the original Floyd Bannister, Brian’s father, last toed the rubber there for the Rangers in his final season. Actually, it occurred to Brian B. before the game but he didn’t say anything about it. Floyd Bannister pitched for the Royals in 1988-89. . . . Third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a grand slam, his seventh homer on Sunday but Double-A Northwest Arkansas lost at Springfield, 10-9. Left-hander Mike Montgomery took the loss, his first after four wins for the Naturals and Single-A Wilmington.

–Dick Kaegel

Wood called up from Omaha, Rupe is dropped

Blake Wood is in and Josh Rupe is out of the Royals’ bullpen.

Wood, a 6-5 right-hander, was called up from Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday and Rupe was designated for assignment.

For Omaha, Wood worked 12 games in relief and posted five saves with a 2-1 record and 2.16 ERA. In 16 2/3 innings he had given up 12 hits, seven walks and four earned runs with 12 strikeouts. He pitched one scoreless inning on Tuesday night in a 10-2 victory at Reno.

Rupe was 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in 11 games for the Royals. He was called up from Omaha on April 16 when Roman Colon was designated for assignment.

The former Texas Rangers right-hander bottomed out in Tuesday night’s game, allowing all four batters he faced to reach base. He gave up two singles and two walks to force in a run in the Royals’ 8-2 loss to the Indians. In his previous outing last Thursday night, he entered the game at Texas and promptly surrendered a two-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero.

Wood, 24, has been one of the Royals’ top pitching prospects since he was their third-round draft selection in 2006. He was a starter until late last season when, with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, he was recovering from a strained right forearm and worked out of the bullpen. He liked it and it worked so well the Royals decided to make it permanent.

Showing a heavy fastball and effective changeup, Wood had an impressive Spring Training. He appeared in seven games and had a 4.70 ERA but held batters to a .167 average. For Omaha this year, he’s been more effective against left-handed batters (.194) than against righties (.222).

Wood is from the Atlanta area and played three seasons at Georgia Tech University and reached the College World Series in 2006 as a junior.

Alex Gordon’s conversion to left field is reportedly going well and his hitting wasn’t bad either on Tuesday at Reno. He socked a first-inning home run, also singled and scored three runs and knocked in two in a 10-2 Omaha victory. On Wednesday, he went 1-for-2 in a 4-2 loss to Reno and is batting .286. That includes a 3-for-4 game on rehab prior to his current assignment. . . . . The Rockies’ Jeff Francis, on rehab with Double-A Tulsa, held Northwest Arkansas scoreless for seven innings on Tuesday but the Naturals rallied against the bullpen to win, 4-1. Their 21-10 record was the best in all of Double-A. . . . First baseman Eric Hosmer had two more hits in Single-A Wilmington’s 9-8 loss to Lynchburg. He’s batting .409 with 24 RBIs. . . . Left fielder Carlo Testa hit his third home run but Single-A Burlington lost to Cedar Rapids, 5-2. . . . Carrie Rosetti, who has helped abuse victims at Hope House for seven years, was in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night. She is also founder of the Kansas City Alliance Against Human Trafficking.

–Dick Kaegel

Hosmer hitting up a storm for Wilmington

Two of the Royals’ top draft picks are hitting up a storm. First baseman Eric Hosmer, their No. 1 choice in 2008, was leading all Minor League hitters with a .409 average for Single-A Wilmington with 42-for-110 through 32 games. He had 14 extra-bases hits including one homer and 21 RBIs. Third baseman Mike Moustakas, the first-round in 2007, was right behind at .408 (29-for-71) for Double-A Northwest Arkansas after missing the first three weeks with an oblique injury. He had nine doubles, six homers and 20 RBIs in 18 games. Those stats were through Monday.

Moustakas went 4-for-5 in the Naturals’ 7-3 victory over Tulsa on Monday. Left-hander Mike Montgomery held the Drillers to four hits and two walks in six innings and is 2-0 since moving up to Double-A. Moustakas, though, went 0-for-3 in Tuesday’s 4-1 win and he slipped to .392. . . . Shortstop Rey Navarro hit his first home run for Wilmington, his first since being acquired from Arizona in the Carlos Rosa trade, in a 6-5 win over Lynchburg. Catcher Salvador Perez celebrated his 20th birthday with a homer as well, his second. . . . Hilton Richardson’s two steals for Single-A Burlington in a 6-4 loss at Cedar Rapids gave him 12 in 13 attempts. . . . Jean Hinman, who works community projects through the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Kan., was in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat on Tuesday night.

–Dick Kaegel

Will Ankiel be ready when his DL time is up?

Will center fielder Rick Ankiel, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, be ready when he’s eligible for reinstatement on May 18?

“I’m not sure if he’s ready to come off at the appropriate date but we’ll see,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Monday.

The quad was thought to be a minor thing back when Ankiel came out of a game on April 24. He was used as a pinch-hitter twice during the Tampa Bay series, May 1-2.

“If we thought it was going to be longer, he wouldn’t have pinch-hit,” Moore said. “We expected him to play two of the four in Tampa Bay and Trey (Hillman) decided to wait and give him a couple days without playing so he could play all three games in Chicago. And that Sunday he realized that he couldn’t go and we had to make a move.”

That’s when Ankiel went on the DL and Kila Ka’aihue was called up. This is reminiscent of the ankle injury that Ankiel suffered in Spring Training. Initially he was going to be out just a day or two but it turned into an 18-day absence.

Luke Hochevar might have been throwing up in the bullpen during his warm-ups on Sunday at Texas but he still insisted on pitching. “I haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of days or so, but it wasn’t this bad. But I can still throw strikes. I don’t care how bad it is. Regardless, I’ve got to keep us in that ballgame better than I did,” he said. He was pulled in the third inning after giving up four runs on four walks and three hits. . . . Nobody was watching on Sunday when the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton didn’t come close to tagging up at first base after a catch. He advanced to second while a run scored on a sac fly and the Royals failed to appeal. “You would hope your first baseman would catch that . . . and a lot of times somebody picks it up in the dugout,” Hillman said. “We were pretty well-located to see that play. I didn’t see it at the time that it happened.” Turns out Billy Butler was watching the play at the plate along with everyone else. . . . Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna pitched six innings in Northwest Arkansas’ 8-1 win over Tulsa on Sunday, boosting his record to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.09.

–Dick Kaegel

 

Players to swing pink for Komen for the Cure

Watch for some of the Royals and the Rangers to swing pink bats in Sunday’s game at the Ballpark in Arlington. All of the players have available the pink Louisville Sluggers, used to help raise awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer, an annual Mother’s Day event. The bats are auctioned later by MLB.com to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest organization devoted to battling the disease. Fans can purchase their own personalized pink bats through MLB.com with $10 from each purchase going to the Komen foundation.

Nugget from the Rangers’ media notes for Saturday night’s game: Vladimir Guerrero has the highest average of any active player (minimum 100 at-bats) at a Major League park: .410 (102-for-249) at the Ballpark in Arlington which he now calls home. Second highest? It’s Albert Pujols’ .400 (44-for-110) at Kauffman Stadium. Well, he is a Kansas City guy so he feels right at home. . . . Double-A Northwest Arkansas’ 4-2 win over Springfield on Friday night was the Naturals’ seventh victory in eight games and gave them a 4-game lead over the Redbirds. . . . First baseman Eric Hosmer was 3-for-4 in Single-A Wilmington’s 2-0 loss at Frederick, boosting his average to .404. . . . Catcher Juan Graterol’s 4-for-5 led Single-A Burlington over Beloit, 9-4.  He was 3-for-17 previously.

–Dick Kaegel

Greinke could use some luck and some runs

Surely Zack Greinke is going to catch some luck and maybe even some run support on Friday night against the Rangers. He goes into his seventh start still looking for his first victory. A year ago he was 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA after six starts.

His ERA this year is just 2.27 but the problem is the Royals are averaging just 2.6 runs when he starts a game. By contrast, Luke Hochevar, 3-1, is getting a healthy 6.3 runs a game.

Greinke couldn’t have pitched any better than he did last Sunday at Tampa Bay where he held the Rays to one run in an eight-inning complete game. Ah, but the Royals scored nada and he lost because he centered a slider that Evan Longoria hit out. The Zackmeister threw just 87 pitches and 65 were for strikes. He never reached a 3-ball count.

Alex Gordon hit his second home run for Triple-A Omaha in a 9-2 loss to Oklahoma City. . . . Left-hander Mike Montgomery won his Double-A debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up two hits and one run in Northwest Arkansas’ 3-1 win over Springfield. He struck out eight and walked four. Third baseman Mike Moustakas hit in his eighth straight game (13-for-29, .448) with his sixth home run and is .420 overall. . . . Right fielder Jamar Walton eased his 1-for-26 start with a homer, double and two RBIs but Single-A Wilmington lost to Salem, 11-3. . . . Outfielder Rene Oriental is 10-for-25, .400, in a six-game hitting streak for Single-A Burlington.
 
–Dick Kaegel