Jose Guillen is headed for his 10th Major League club, the San Francisco Giants.
The Royals traded Guillen and cash to the National League West contenders for a player to be named on Friday morning. Guillen had been designated for assignment by the Royals on August 5.
Guillen, 34, was leading the Royals with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs with a .255 average when he was dropped after three days of a West Coast trip. The move was made after the Royals could not reach a deal for the outfielder and designated hitter prior to the non-waiver deadline on July 31.
The cash sent to the Giants will help pay for the remainder of Guillen’s $12 million salary due him this season. He’s in the last year of a three-year, $36-million contract.
He’ll now settle into an outfield picture that includes Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, Travis Ishikawa and Andres Torres.
The right-handed-hitting Guillen is a career .270 hitter with a .762 OPS and 211 home runs in 14 seasons in the big leagues. He spent 84 games as a designated hitter this season while also making 21 starts in right field.
— Dick Kaegel
The Royals cut ties with Jose Guillen on Thursday, with the veteran outfielder designated for assignment.
Guillen, who leads the Royals with the 16 home runs and 62 RBIs, did not figure in the club’s future plans. He was in the last year of a three-year, $36-million contract.
The move clears the way for Kila Ka’aihue, a top power prospect, to get more playing time. Ka’aihue is expected to share first base and designated hitter with Billy Butler.
To fill Guillen’s spot on the 25-man roster, the Royals called up pitcher Philip Humber from Triple-A Omaha. A starter, he was 5-6 with a 4.47 ERA in 21 games.
Guillen leaves the Royals in the wake of a terrible slump. He was just 1-for-28 in his last seven games, going hitless in 21 at-bats since collecting his 300th career double.
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.
David DeJesus was out of right field on Thursday night at Tampa Bay but he stayed at the top of batting order. He was the designated hitter as Jose Guillen played right for a change. This was just the second time that DeJesus had been the Royals’ DH; the first time came on July 23, 2008, against Detroit at Kauffman Stadium. On that occasion, he was 2-for-4 with a double. This time he was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Aaron Crow got his first pro victory, pitching eight innings on Thursday night as Double-A Northwest Arkansas knocked off Springfield, a Cardinals’ farm club, 9-2. The ex-Mizzou star gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in eight innings. He struck six and threw just 79 pitches – 55 for strikes. Crow was the Royals’ top draft pick last year and their fifth-round choice, Louis Coleman from LSU, pitched a perfect ninth to finish up. Ernesto Mejia belted two home runs for the Naturals. . . . First baseman Kila Ka’aihue hit his sixth homer, doubled and knocked in four runs as Triple-A Omaha beat Iowa, 11-7, in a game stopped by rain after 5½ innings. . . . Royals catcher Jason Kendall appeared in his 1,929th game behind the dish on Friday night at Tampa Bay. He’s in sixth place all-time for games caught; next in his path, ex-Royals manager Tony Pena with 1,950.
Luke Hochevar had trouble with his control Sunday in the Royals’ 10-8 win over the White Sox.
“Scratch that one out,” Hochevar said. “I didn’t command the baseball very well, especially early on. I just didn’t pitch very good. Later on, I starting getting a better feel and started commanding the strike zone better. But even then I made a couple of mistakes out over the plate and they got some base hits.”
In five innings, he gave up nine hits including a homer and six runs (five earned) with three walks and a hit batter. That raised his ERA to 3.94.
“The good of it was that Hoch was able to get five ups-and-downs and stay under the 90-pitch threshold. That’s what we were shooting for today,” manager Trey Hillman said.
Hochevar has one more start before the opening of the season.
“Just iron some things out,” he said. “But overall physically I feel good. That’s the main thing right now. I know I’m going to have good command. That’ll come.”
Guess what team is leading the Major Leagues in hitting this spring? Yep, the Royals at .319. But Hillman isn’t that excited yet, noting the club also hit well (.310) last year in the Cactus League. There is one positive change, however. “We’ve got a lot of hard line-drive base hits and not as much loft as last year so hopefully it’s affecting it,” he said. The “it” refers to the nets that hitting coach Kevin Seitzer hung from the top of the batting cages, encouraging the hitters to avoid lofting the ball into the light Arizona air and go for the hard liners instead. Must be something to it. The Royals have 19 homers in their 25 games so far compared to a ******** 56 blasts in 36 games in 2009. Obviously that power didn’t carry over when the team left the desert. . . . Jose Guillen’s 4-for-4 against the White Sox boosted his average to .342 and Hillman sees good bat speed from the veteran. “When I haven’t seen the bat speed, there’s something wrong physically,” Hillman said. “That ankle really bothered him last year.” But surgery last September seems to have solved the ankle problem. . . . Mitch Maier had two more hits and is hitting .440. He also appeared to make a diving catch in center field although it was ruled a trap. “Tremendous spring. And he’s playing center field better than I’ve ever seen him play it,” Hillman said. Judging from his spring play, Maier gives the Royals a nice option in case Rick Ankiel’s ankle keeps him off the field when the season starts. Ankiel, who last played in a Cactus game on March 11, was supposed to play four or five innings in a Minor League game on Sunday.
How ya gonna keep Kila Ka’aihue down on the farm?
Ka’aihue’s towering home run snapped a 12-12 tie in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 14-12 victory over Oakland. That gave the big first baseman from Hawaii a club-leading four home runs with 11 RBIs and his 3-for-4 boosted his average to .381 with 16 hits.
“He’s having a heck of a spring and he’s making a tremendous case for himself,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
But Ka’aihue is a first baseman-designated hitter and that’s a crowded department on the club with Billy Butler and Jose Guillen around.
“We’ve still got plenty of games left. I’m going to keep playing him,” Hillman said. “I’ve never said he’s not going to make the club and I’ve never said he’s on the club. And I’ve always said everything about him we like. So we’ll see how things go. It is a crowded spot but we need to have some run producers.”
Ka’aihue, a left-handed slugger, has seemed destined for a return to Triple-A Omaha all spring but, as the skipper likes to say, stay tuned.
Meantime on Saturday, Hillman’s pitchers (and those of the A’s) were unimpressive with Josh Rupe especially banged around. Rupe was making a strong case for a bullpen spot but, in starting against the A’s, he coughed up six runs in the first two innings.
Brad Thompson and Bryan Bullington each gave up three runs in three innings. But Thompson did pitch out of some jams and Bullington followed one bad inning with two good ones.
“I was real pleased that Thompson battled through some adversity and figured out a way to stop the bleeding,” Hillman said.
Hillman was also happy with the way Bullington finished up and how the ball was getting out of his hand.
The skipper had to get after Roman Colon, who was brought in to pitch the ninth with a two-run lead and immediately walked the leadoff batter. After ball one to the next batter, Hillman jumped up and went to the mound for an intense one-on-one.
“I thought he was too concerned about a runner on first base there in that situation and I just wanted to eliminate that,” Hillman said.
Colon got a strikeout, gave up a single, then retired the next two batters to end the slugfest.
Reliever Juan Cruz has yet to see any Cactus League action and probably won’t for a while. Coming off a right shoulder strain that cost him nearly two months late last season, Cruz is taking it slow.
“Is he limited? No. Is he a little bit behind the pitching schedule of some of the other guys? Yes,” manager Trey Hillman said.
Cruz was the last pitcher to report to camp and he’s trying to build up his shoulder. He was 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA last year but got into just 46 games. He’s in the second year of a two-year, $6-million deal.
The Royals had a lot of fun with Kansas City Wizards soccer player Korede “K” Aiyegbusi who served as the ballboy for Friday’s game against the Rangers. The 5-5 defender is from London and apparently wasn’t up to speed on baseball or the game’s humor. So when he was sent to find the “key” to the batter’s box or to fetch a box of “curveballs” or “sliders” he was eager and willing to go. “He was outstanding,” Hillman said. “He got the batter’s box unlocked just in time for the game. He was on his way to the bullpen for a box of sliders but an unnamed staff guy called him back, not knowing exactly what was going on. So that unnamed staff guy is seriously in my doghouse.” The umpires played along. “One guy took the bull by the horns. He’s the one who sent him to the bullpen,” Hillman said. . . . Catcher Manny Pina, drilled by the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz in Friday’s game, had just a bruised right bicep and was back on the field Saturday. There was no bad history between the two players, Pina said. In fact, they were roommates when both were with the Rangers’ Double-A club at Frisco. Feliz visited Pina on Friday night to make sure he was OK. The fastball just got away from him. . . . Jose Guillen played right field in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Rangers, pounded a long double to right-center field and moved around the bases in good form. . . . “I’m getting there, I’m feeling healthy so it’s matter of getting the timing back,” Guillen said. “I didn’t play a lot last year. I had two surgeries and it’s a matter of hard work, getting more playing time and getting that rhythm back. I know what I need to do from there.” . . . The biggest relief for Gil Meche after his two shutout innings on Saturday was no pain in his back. “I just hope it never comes up again,” he said. “With the work I put in – not to toot my own horn – but I did a lot of things they wanted me to do with the back to ensure I wouldn’t have any problems. Everything has worked out pretty good.”
— Dick Kaegel
David DeJesus put it succinctly when he talked about Rick Ankiel’s performance in Tuesday’s intrasquad game: “Everything he hits is a home run.”
That was true. He belted two solo homers – one off Luke Hochevar, one off Minor Leaguer Danny Duffy – as his team rolled, 6-0. He teed off on Hochevar’s changeup and Duffy’s breaking ball. In his other at-bat, Ankiel didn’t hit the ball – lefty Adam Bostick struck him out. Alberto Callaspo, batting right-handed, also homered off Duffy.
DeJesus had three at-bats and belted a triple, a double and a single.
“I just wanted to stay relaxed at the plate,” DeJesus said. “It’s way different doing (batting practice) with the pitchers behind the screen. When you get out there with no screens, you feel like you lock in a little better and it’s definitely always good when you get your first day with three hits.”
He could have had two triples but stopped at second base because he knew the inning was going to be halted at that point anyway. (Three innings were waved off because the pitchers had reached their pitch limit.)
Ankiel thought he got a little help on his second home run by the light Arizona air. “Definitely an Arizona home run,” he said.
Manager Trey Hillman liked what he saw from his offense – there were 13 hits in the five innings – despite skipping live batting practice early on in camp.
“I don’t think we were too far behind considering we didn’t take batting practice the first two days,” Hillman said. “If we hadn’t done well offensively today, by at least one side, I’m sure these guys would’ve grumbled that we missed those two days. But it looked like the mistakes from the pitchers got hit. They got some balls out over the plate.”
But he saw some good things from his pitchers as well.
“Hoch left a changeup up but other than that, he pitched very well, was very efficient. I thought (Aaron) Crow did a real good job. Even though he fell behind, he did a real good job of getting back in the count,” Hillman said.
And he was impressed by Rule 5 draft choice Edgar Osuna, a left-hander.
“You can see the pitchability,” Hillman said. “This is the second time in a row I’ve seen a good breaking ball – it’s got depth and sweep to it. He’s deceptive, especially with the changeup. He’s not afraid to throw to both sides of the plate. He threw Billy Butler a nice cutter inside and followed it up with a changeup and it resulted in two foul balls. But the only reason is because it was Billy Butler. He could’ve struck a lot of right-handed hitters out with that pitch coming in glove-side instead of using the changeup away.”
Most of all, though, Hillman liked his defense. The only error was a wide throw by Hochevar.
“Very clean. We had one error. I was very pleased with the defensive play,” Hillman said.
For Wednesday’s second intrasquad game, Hillman is switching the lineups around. Ankiel will be back but as a designated hitter; ditto for Jose Guillen. Mike Moustakas will get a shot at third base and several other non-roster players are in the two lineups as well. The pitchers will include Brian Bannister and Dusty Hughes.
Before Tuesday’s intrasquad game, Mike Aviles threw from shortstop for the first time in camp. He’s recuperating from Tommy John surgery in his right elbow so he was cautious but made about 15 of the long throws without a problem. He played second base in the game.
Outfielder Scott Podsednik was nicked in the hand by a pitch that glanced off the knob of his bat but he was OK.
Get ready to point the rabbit ears on top of the ol’ TV set. Fox Sports Kansas City will beam out 142 Royals games this season.
They’ll get warmed up with a couple of Spring Training telecasts – the first on Tuesday, March 23, when the Cubbies are at Surprise Stadium. That will go live at 3:05 p.m. CT and then re-air in prime time, 8 p.m. CT. The second game will be at 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday, April 2, when the Royals are in Arlington, Texas, for a game against the Rangers.
Then will come 140 regular-season games starting with Opening Day against the Tigers on Monday, April 5, at Kauffman Stadium. There will be 69 road games and 71 home games telecast. In addition to the Fox schedule, ESPN will carry the Royals’ July 4 game against the Angels from Anaheim, Calif.
The Fox telecasts will be preceded by a 30-minute pre-game show, Hy-Vee Royals Live, and followed by the Boulevard Royals Live show with Joel Goldberg as host.
Manager Trey Hillman wants to find spots to play Alberto Callaspo but he indicated that outfield is not likely. “We’re going to have to figure out a way. You don’t want to leave a .300 hitter sitting on your bench and one that had the slug that Alberto did,” Hillman said. “Thankfully he’s got some utility value. He looked real good at third base, he’s had some history of playing some outfield although once we signed Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel, in my mind that could of took Callaspo out of the mix.” But Callaspo could play at second behind Chris Getz or third behind Alex Gordon or be used as a DH. “We’re not going to leave that bat sitting on the bench very often,” Hillman said.
. . . The Royals will play some sort of simulated games on March 1, 2 and 3 as they loosen up for the first exhibition game against the Rangers on March 4. . . . Hillman doesn’t think Aaron Crow, the Royals’ top draft pick last year, would be considered for this year’s Major League bullpen. The former Mizzou right-hander is likely to be in the Minors somewhere as a starter. “With an arm that good and stuff that good, from a development background, my preference would be for him to continue to throw as many pitches as possible,” Hillman said. . . . Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who reported to the Surprise Complex earlier in the month, is back after returning home to the Dominican Republic for a short visit. Only a few position players have not yet been spotted in camp, including Callaspo, Jose Guillen and non-roster utility player Wilson Betemit. The first full-squad workout isn’t until Tuesday. . . . Zack Greinke will meet with the media after Saturday’s workout. Supposedly this will be his only give-and-take with reporters this year except on days he pitches. Greinke values his time and doesn’t want his Cy Young celebrity to interfere with his work.
— Dick Kaegel
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.