The Royals got the last day of the Winter Meetings off to a fast start, releasing designated hitter Mike Jacobs and relief pitcher John Bale early Thursday morning.
The moves reduced the roster to 38 players, leaving open two spots prior to the Rule 5 draft.
Both players proved to be disappointments last season.
Jacobs, obtained from the Marlins in a trade for reliever Leo Nunez, hit 19 home runs with 61 RBIs and a .228 average after a .247/32/93 line in 2008 in the National League.
He got off to a good start in his first 36 games, batting .270 with nine homers and 23 RBIs but fell off rapidly. He began the season as the starting first baseman but quickly lost that job to Billy Butler and went into a DH role.
Bale, in his third season with the Royals, began the season on the disabled list after undergoing thyroid surgery. Reinstated on May 23, he pitched in a career-high 43 games but posted a 5.72 ERA in 28 1/3 innings with a 0-1 record and one save.
A left-handed signed by the Royals as a free agent out of Japan for the 2007 season, his stay was interrupted by injuries including shoulder and back strains and a broken hand. He was tried as a starter in 2008 but that experiment ended after he lost all three outings.
A reader wanted to know how in the how Zack Greinke was charged with two runs in the eighth inning on Thursday night at Cleveland. He thought the second run should have been charged to John Bale.
Here’s what happened: With one out, Mark DeRosa singled and Victor Martinez walked. At that point, Greinke was relieved by Bale. Shin-Soo Choo hit a possible double-play ball to first baseman Billy Butler, who threw to second for the force. But shortstop Tony Pena Jr.’s return throw got past Bale covering for an error, DeRosa scoring. On that play, second baseman Alberto Callaspo, after chasing down the ball, threw poorly to home for another error that let Choo take second. Then Joakim Soria relieved Bale and Jhonny Peralta blasted a double off the top of the left-field wall, Choo scoring.
Greinke is charged with both runs because he put the first two runners on base. And even though Martinez was retired on Choo’s fielder’s choice, the fact that there was a runner on at all still reverts to Zack. It might be a bit unfair but that’s the way it is.
Even though DeRosa scored on Pena’s throwing error, that came on a double play attempt in which you cannot assume the second out which would have ended the inning. So the scorer ruled that DeRosa would have scored along with Choo on Peralta’s double, hence both runs were earned and charged to Zack.
In the case of the second run charged to Zack, I suppose the scorer could have ruled that Choo would not have reached second base except for Callaspo’s error and therefore would not have scored on Peralta’s double. However, there were two outs when the double was hit so Choo would have been running all the way if he were still at first base and the ball hit high off the wall anyway so he’d probably have scored from first regardless.
Right-hander Luke Hochevar, who took the loss for the Royals on Saturday against the Cardinals, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha as the club made a total of six roster moves following the game.
Shortstop Mike Aviles and reliever Robinson Tejeda were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The Royals added pitchers John Bale and Roman Colon and infielder Tug Hulett, all recalled from Omaha. Bale had been on an injury rehabilitation assignment.
Aviles has a strained right forearm and Tejeda has tendinitis of the right rotator cuff.
Sidney Ponson will pitch the first game at renovated Kauffman Stadium, manager Trey Hillman said on Wednesday in completing the Royals’ starting rotation.
Ponson and left-hander Horacio Ramirez will join Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies in the rotation.
Ponson will start on April 10 against the New York Yankees in the Grand Re-Opening of the stadium. Ramirez will make his first start on April 12 against the Yankees.
The Royals also optioned pitcher Brian Bannister to Triple-A Omaha, asked unconditional release waivers on pitcher Joel Peralta and placed left-hander John Bale on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27.
Earlier on Wednesday, they traded first baseman Ross Gload to the Florida Marlins for a player to be named.
The Royals’ athletic trainers have been almost as lonely as the Maytag repairman. Not much business coming their way. “John Bale is having a little bit of stiffness in his upper back,” manager Trey Hillman told reporters on Monday. “He’s still doing almost all of the activities. No major concern there, he’s just having some soreness and some spasms going on.” Hillman said that was no urgency about Bale because he’s back in the bullpen and doesn’t need to get his arm stretched out as he did last year as a starter….Catcher Matt Tupman, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is restricted in his throwing so far.
Just in case you were wondering, there are 15 players on the Royals’ 40-man roster who are out of Minor League options: Bale, John Buck, Alberto Callaspo, Shane Costa, Esteban German, Ross Gload, Jimmy Gobble, Jose Guillen, Ron Mahay, Gil Meche, Brayan Pena, Tony Pena Jr., Ryan Shealy, Robinson Tejeda and Doug Waechter. The other 25 guys have options remaining.
First baseman Mike Jacobs has his salary arbitration hearing set for Wednesday in the Phoenix area. He’s asking for $3.8 million and the Royals have offered $2.75 million. Middle ground is $3.275 million. No indication if a settlement is near or if they’ll go before the arbitrators….There’s a splashy new adornment to the Royals’ batting cages at camp. Overhead are art images of the 16 players in the Royals Hall of Fame, in alphabetical order from Brett to Wilson….Hillman left camp early on Monday to do his civic duty and participate in a charity golf tournament….If you haven’t noticed, outfielder Coco Crisp will be wearing uniform No. 2 and infielder Willie Bloomquist will be wearing No. 8. They agreed to switch digits during last month’s Royals FanFest. Crisp was No. 10 previously with the Red Sox and Indians; Bloomquist wore No. 16 with the Mariners. The Royals’ No. 10 is, of course, retired in honor of Dick Howser. And Billy Butler is wearing No. 16.
— Dick Kaegel