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.
Ten days after the World Series the Royals have to make decisions on their players with contract options and that includes catcher Miguel Olivo and center fielder Coco Crisp.
It’s a club option on Crisp and it doesn’t take any genius to figure the Royals won’t pick up an $8 million deal on a guy who went through surgeries on both shoulders last season. It’ll cost the club $500,000, of course, to pass. The Royals liked what they saw, even with Coco not at full strength early on, and it’s logical that they might make him a free-agent offer at a much lower base rate with a lot of incentives, depending largely on the amount of playing time, built in. Crisp seemed happy here, too, so that could happen if his medical reports are good later this offseason.
It’s a mutual option on Olivo’s $3.3-million contract and a good guess would be that he’ll become a free agent and take his chances. There are few names on the potential free agent list that jump out in the catching department and general manager Dayton Moore admits: “Olivo sees that, too, and the free agent market could be very lucrative for him.”
Anyway the Royals want to re-cast their whole confusing situation behind the plate. Olivo was supposed to be the regular and he did start 97 games and was Zack Greinke’s very successful batterymate. And he did lead the club with 23 home runs. But there were a lot of pitches getting through and skipping past him. Despite a strong arm Olivo caught just 17 of 73 base-stealers, 19 percent. John Buck started 41 games, his hitting never took off and, despite his other defensive plusses, runners took advantage and swiped 40 bases in 48 tries. There was even an experimental period with Brayan Pena (24 starts) and he seemed a promising hitter but a catcher who needed a crash schooling course before games. So, with such uncertainty, maybe the Royals just need a new start behind the plate. Then again, it’s a skimpy market out there.
— Dick Kaegel
Catcher John Buck was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a slight herniation in his lower back, Royals manager Trey Hillman announced before Sunday’s game against the White Sox.
Catcher Brayan Pena’s contract was selected from Triple-A Omaha to take his spot on the roster.
Buck was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital after being suddenly seized with back pain just before his time at bat in the third inning on Saturday night.
“The inning ended with him reaching up and tagging on the strike three and he came down, took his catcher’s gear off and realized his spot in the lineup was due up,” Hillman said.
“He was reaching for something – I think his catching helmet had fallen off – and felt a little tweak. He grabbed his bat and as soon as he went up the stairs (of the dugout), he went down. It just grabbed on him. It’s unfortunate.”
Hillman said Buck was still confined to the hospital on Sunday.
“He was in some pain last night,” Hillman said. “It grabbed him so hard they said he went down to his knees.”
Buck, relegated this year to a secondary role to Miguel Olivo, was batting .226 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 28 games. He had made a special effort to streamline his body during the winter and was in excellent condition this spring.
Pena was batting .307 with four homers and 18 RBIs for Omaha in 22 games, although he caught in just five games and had played the outfield in nine. He appeared in four games for the Royals, going 2-for-7, before being designated for assignment on April 24. Pena cleared waivers and was assigned to Omaha on May 5.
Royals catcher John Buck left Saturday night’s game against the White Sox because of lower back spasms.
Buck caught the top half of the third inning but Miguel Olivo batted for him in the bottom half and took over the catching duties. Buck last played on Wednesday and caught the entire game with no apparent problems.
What was this? John Buck was wearing a Florida Gators baseball jersey during the Royals’ conditioning drills on Monday morning. He stuck out like an orange-and-blue sore thumb.
Not only that. The uniform number was 43, a replication of teammate Ryan Shealy’s garb when he played for the Gators. Shealy is the No. 1 Gators fan in the KC clubhouse, or maybe any clubhouse. And he lockers next to Buck.
“He was supposed to get me a sweatshirt and he never did,” Buck said. “Since I love Ryan so much, when I pull a prank I want to make him happy.”
Oh, sure. This was a little payback. Buck didn’t get his Gators sweatshirt as promised so he ordered a jersey himself and wore it, just to aggravate his buddy.
To be sure he wouldn’t break any team rules, Buck got permission from skipper Trey Hillman for the prank. Shealy said appreciated any exposure his beloved Gators can get.
Shealy was asked if his No. 43 had been retired at Florida.
“Not yet,” he said. “But it’s hanging in a Gators’ bar, the Swamp across from the stadium.”
Iin other news: Wednesday’s first game against the Texas Rangers will count in the Cactus League standings. Originally, the Royals’ schedule indicated that the charity game would not count. But, upon further review and this may have gone right up to the Commissioner’s Office or the Supreme Court, it was decided that the game would count in the standings and the stats would count as well. Hey, it could have an effect on the Cactus League championship. . . . Spring Training records usually don’t mean Bo Diddley but, in 2003, the Royals had their best record ever in Arizona (19-10) and that was the year they held first place for a long time and finished in third place at 83-79, their last winning record. . . .Luis Silverio, the Royals’ former third base coach and now a special operative in the organization, stopped by camp for a visit and some meetings. After returning to his KC home, he’s off to Jupiter, Fla., where he’ll be a coach for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. The D.R. will play in Puerto Rico. Then he’ll be back to Arizona to help coach the Minor Leaguers.
— Dick Kaegel