Billy Butler, while commenting on his selection as the Royals Player of the Year, was asked if he or his agent had discussed a long-term contract with the club.
“Not that I know of,” he said. “I would hope that my agent would have called me if that would have happened. We have not been in any contact or anything along those lines. I know the Royals have a lot on their plate, trying to make the Royals better and everything like that, but obviously I have not heard of anything like that.”
Butler has 2 years and 102 days of Major League service time so he’ll cross into salary arbitration territory after next season.
Also on Monday, the Royals reinstated three players from the 60-day disabled list to their 40-man roster – outfielder Jose Guillen, shortstop Mike Aviles and pitcher Doug Waechter. That puts the roster at 39.
— Dick Kaegel
Here are some thoughts that Jose Guillen had when asked about some aspects of international baseball.
On which international player is the best in the game: “We have some good ones but overall I’d have to take Albert Pujols because he’s pretty much the complete package right now. You cannot go wrong with him. He’s a winner and plays the game the right way, plays hard.”
On whether Major League Baseball is tougher or easier for international players: “I think it’s a little tougher on us because we come from a different country, a different culture, different language. And this is an American game, this is not a Latin game. When a Latin player comes here, it’s learn the language, learn the culture and understand the game when the coaches are talking about it. This game is not just about pitching and hitting, it requires a lot of other things the players have to understand. Coming from a different country, you have to adjust to an American style, not a Dominican style – a different type of life to lead. There are things you can do in the Dominican you can’t do over here so it’s thoroughly different. So I guess the Americans have an easier time.”
On which foreign country produces the best players: “Right now it’s the Dominican and Venezuela. It used to be the Dominican but right now Venezuela is getting there with some really good ones. But I’ve got to go with my country because it’s all baseball, that’s all we play there. It’s the only big sport there and you can see how people go crazy about baseball there. It’s a different atmosphere than any other Latin American place so I’ve got to go with my country but Venezuela is right behind. There’s a lot of great ones from there but a lot of great ones from the Dominican, too.”
Starting pitcher Brian Bannister was recalled from Triple-A Omaha by the Royals on Tuesday and reliever Doug Waechter was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Bannister will start Wednesday night’s game at Cleveland instead of left-hander Hector Ramirez. Bannister, after a rough first start for Omaha, has logged nine straight shutout innings while Ramirez has struggled for the Royals.
This move puts Ramirez back in the bullpen, essentially covering Waechter’s spot in middle relief.
Waechter has a lateral strain in his right elbow.
“He’s been having trouble getting loose and felt some clicking in there and was examined by Dr. (Steve) Joyce on Monday,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
Although Waechter told the Royals he felt he could pitch through it, the club decided to put him on the disabled list. Waechter had not given up a run this season until Friday night at Texas when the Rangers jolted him for two solo home runs in one inning of the Royals’ 12-3 victory.
Bannister was optioned to Omaha late in Spring Training along with fellow right-hander Luke Hochevar after the Royals decided to use Sidney Ponson and Ramirez in the last two rotation spots.
On Sunday, Bannister was used to pitch just two innings, both scoreless, in Omaha’s 3-0 victory over Albuquerque. That brief outing was in anticipation of the move with Waechter and Ramirez.
That gave Bannister nine shutout innings in his last two starts after a rocky first outing in which he gave up five runs in four innings. Overall, his ERA is 3.46 with a 0-1 record.
Hochevar also has been pitching well with a 3-0 record and 1.89 ERA in three starts for Omaha.
Ramirez, signed last winter to a $1.8 million contract, was supposed to give the Royals a left-handed starter in an otherwise all right-handed rotation. But he had a lackluster Spring Training and was penciled in for just two starts this month. He made one on April 11 against Cleveland and went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs in a 6-1 loss.
He’s also made two relief appearances and his overall ERA is 11.12 to go with his 0-1 mark. In 5 2/3 innings, he’s given up 12 hits including two homers and seven runs.
Waechter becomes the third player on the Royals’ disabled list. Third baseman Alex Gordon underwent right hip surgery on Friday and is expected to be out until at least late June. Right fielder Jose Guillen has a tear in his right hip flexor and could be back as early as Saturday.
Waechter’s stay on the DL is retroactive to April 18.
Alex Gordon’s right hip injury proved to be much more serious than imagined.
Gordon, the Royals’ third baseman, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a labral cartilage tear of the right hip. He will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear on Friday by Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo.
The Royals said no estimate on how long Gordon might be out would be available until after the procedure. He was injured Saturday and missed the next two games but played the last two games.
To take Gordon’s place on the roster, the Royals recalled outfielder Mitch Maier from Triple-A Omaha.
Manager Trey Hillman said that Mark Teahen would replace Gordon as the starting third baseman.
Teahen, whom Gordon replaced as the third baseman two years ago, has been playing in right field for the Royals’ other disabled regular, Jose Guillen. He is on the disabled list, also with a right hip injury, but is expected to return by April 25.
“It seems like Teahen is the natural choice because he’s the most natural third baseman and, obviously, offensively we want Teahen’s bat in the lineup,” Hillman said.
“I think it makes us the best defensively on that side.”
For right field, it most will be Maier, a left-handed batter, or Willie Bloomquist, a right-handed batter, depending on the matchup with pitchers.
This could be a big break for Maier, who was getting considerable playing time last season after being recalled from Omaha on July 24 when Joey Gathright went on the disabled list. However, on Aug. 20, he was hit in the face by a pitch at Cleveland and missed 19 games with a cheekbone fracture.
Maier batted .370 (10-for-27) in six games for Omaha with two homers and nine RBIs. He’ll join the Royals on Friday night when they open a series at Texas.
Last season Maier hit .286 in 34 games for the Royals after posting a .316 mark for Omaha. He’s considered a good gap hitter – 14 homers is his Minor League high – and an outstanding outfielder.
Bloomquist, though primarily an infielder, has started three games in right field this year. He’s batting .231.
Teahen, in his two seasons at third base for the Royals, built a reputation as a solid defender. He played third base once in Gordon’s place this year and made 19 starts there last season.
“There’s always the possibility depending on what the matchups are, if we decide we want Mark back out in right field on any given day, then we might have Mike Aviles at third and Tony Pena back at short,” he said.
Aviles, the regular shortstop, logged a game at third base last Monday while Pena played shortstop and made at least one dazzling play.
The injury apparently occurred when Gordon slid into second base during a force-out play in Saturday’s game against the Yankees. He aggravated the hip when bolting from the batter’s box in his next at-bat and was replaced after five innings by Teahen.
After missing the games on Sunday and Monday because the hip was sore, Gordon returned to play Tuesday and Wednesday. In those two games, he was 0-for-6 and struck out four times.
It’s been a struggle at bat throughout the first 10 days of the season for Gordon. He’s just 2-for-21, .095, with one homer, three RBIs, in seven games.
Hillman noted that Gordon insisted that he was ready to play this week.
“He’s extremely tough,” Hillman said. “I was hesitant but he was so adamant about being able to play. But there was soreness there and I think it’s a testament to just how tough he is. Then, obviously, after a couple days he realized that he might need to go ahead and get something done.”
— Dick Kaegel
Right fielder Jose Guillen was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said prior to the home opener.
Moore disclosed that Guillen has a grade 2 tear of the right hip flexor and is expected to return after the 15 days.
“Jose wanted to play through it but this is the right thing to do for him and the team,” Moore said.
Guillen appeared to pull up while running out a ground ball in the ninth inning on Thursday at Chicago where he served as the designated hitter.
The Royals had to make room on the roster for starting pitcher Sidney Ponson, who was pulled up from the Triple-A roster to start Friday’s home opener against the New York Yankees. Guillen’s move to the disabled list apparently kept third-string catcher Brayan Pena on the Royals’ roster.
Manager Trey Hillman had Guillen out of his lineup against the Yankees on Friday but said only that he had a sore right hip. Hillman replaced Guillen in right field and the cleanup spot with Mark Teahen, batted David DeJesus third in Teahen’s spot and put Alberto Callaspo at second base against left-hander Andy Pettitte.
— Dick Kaegel
The Royals went a little overtime on Friday, going almost four hours as they worked on bunting drills, executing bunt plays as well as defending against them.
Manager Trey Hillman wasn’t very happy with the Royals’ bunting game last season.
“We emphasized it last year as well and then we went into the season and we didn’t perform it very well,” he said. “I know that we’re teaching it right and we’re paying attention to detail. It can be concentration, it can be adrenaline and sometimes it’s just flat-out whether we have the ability to do the job.”
On Saturday, the Royals will have an unusually late starting time, 12:30 p.m. MT. That’s three hours later than normal to allow time for lab work associated with player physicals.
Outfielder Jose Guillen, recovering from the ingrown big toe nail that he yanked out, did conditioning drills on Friday but then Hillman told him to back off. “As much as he wants to be out here and go through everything, it’s counterproductive right now,” Hillman said. They’ll evaluate his ability to work out daily….A planned two intrasquad games has been reduced to one, on Sunday. The Monday game has been scrapped. The first exhibition game is on Wednesday, a charity game against the Rangers….Infielder Tim Hulett, claimed on waivers from the Mariners, reported on Friday. He didn’t have far to travel; the M’s camp is just a few miles down the road.
— Dick Kaegel