Affable Billy Butler was testing his skills as an interviewer in the Royals’ camp on Monday, hoping to take over the “Mark Teahen Show” which had been shown on the Kauffman Stadium video board and on the Royals Insider TV show.
With cameraman Stephen Spiegel trailing him, Butler accosted teammate David DeJesus who was just finishing up an interview with several reporters. Butler jumped in with a burning question: “What’s your favorite color?” DeJesus was quick with his answer: “Royal blue.”
Butler merrily asked questions of other players and this reporter who just as merrily gave him a “no comment.”
The Teahen production was a whimsical, mostly nonsensical series of give-and-take with teammates. But now that he’s gone to the White Sox, the job of host was open.
Or was it? With the Royals Insider TV show canceled this year, Butler may be auditioning for a gig that no longer exists. That would be too bad. Billy seemed to be having a ball.
Catcher Jason Kendall joining the Royals after his father, Fred, had been a coach in KC prompted the topic of other father-son combinations with the club. There were three combos as players: Hal and Brian McRae, John and Dusty Wathan and Floyd and Brian Bannister. There was the manager-player combo of Tony Pena and Tony Pena Jr. and, of course, Hal McRae and John Wathan also were Royals managers. Royals staffers Colby Curry and Curt Nelson dug into the matter. Nelson, director of the Royals Hall of Fame, noted there were other Royals players who had big-league fathers including Bob Boone (Ray), Chris Haney (Larry), Kurt Stillwell (Ron), Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (Mel) and Danny Tartabull (Jose) although the dads didn’t play with the Royals. The only brother combination to play for the Royals apparently was George and Ken Brett. . . . Umpires supervisor Steve Palmero dropped by the Royals’ camp to meet with manager Trey Hillman, coaches and staff about proposed rules changes and interpretations. As usual, Palmero is interested in ways to speed up the game, one of his pet projects. . . . Former Royals infielder Tony Graffanino visited ex-teammates in the clubhouse. He’s retired now after 13 Major League seasons with seven teams, bowing out last year in a brief stint with Cleveland.
How many players have a restaurant dish named after them? Just a few, probably. And now Joakim Soria has joined that exclusive group.
The Joakim Soria dish was unveiled last week by Maria DeJesus, who operates a Mexican restaurant in Sedalia, Mo. The occasion was the Mexican Restaurant Association’s national convention in Kansas City.
Soria, from Monclova, Mexico, came to a dinner gathering with his wife Karla. He was joined by left fielder David DeJesus and his girl friend Kim for some good food, good mariachi music and some foot-stomping folk dancing. DeJesus (no relation to chef Maria) is the spokesman for the Guadalupe Centers Inc., a Latino support organization which hosted many of the convention sessions.
Manuel de la Vega, the association president, noted that the Soria dish was fashioned after the type of cooking they have in the state of Coahuila. That’s where Soria’s hometown, Monclova, is located. Soria loved it and said he was happy to be with other folks proud of their Mexican heritage.
Oh, by the way, in addition to his gastronomical endeavors, Soria is doing his workouts at Kauffman Stadium to strengthen his entire body. And, nope, no sign of the shoulder problems that hampered him early last season.
He says he’s feeling really good – and full, too, after diving into that Joakim Soria dish.
ALSO NOTABLE: DeJesus is continuing his charitable work around Kansas City. On Wednesday, Nov. 11, he’ll head a Royals contingent that will serve Thanksgiving meals to homeless and poverty-stricken men, women and families at the City Union Mission’s two facilities. This is the fourth time the Royals have provided and served the meals. Royals Hall of Famer Frank White will head a group serving at the Family Center and DeJesus will be at the Men’s Center. . . . Although he’s traded to the White Sox, Mark Teahen will follow through on his annual fashion show and dinner to benefit the YMCA Challenger effort to build a ballpark and sports facility for physically-challenged kids. “I do want to make it clear that I’m going to see through the whole Challenger deal in Kansas City. That is important to me and I think it’s part of what I’ve been able to do in Kansas City,” he said. That event will be on Jan. 16 at Union Station and Teahen believes his now former teammates will again pitch in and model clothing in the show. That’s around the time of the Royals FanFest so many of them will be in town. Teahen said the project needs another $300,000 to get the construction underway. . . .
GM Dayton Moore, in his press briefing after the Teahen deal, said he wasn’t concerned about dealing with (and possibly strengthening) an AL Central foe: “This is the fourth deal that we’ve completed with Kenny and the White Sox and we’ve just got to focus on our baseball team and what makes us better. We’re not in a position to worry a whole lot about what the White Sox are doing or the other clubs. We’ve got to do what we have to do to put our best team on the field.” Kenny, of course, is Sox GM Kenny Williams. This deal brought infielders Chris Getz and Josh Fields. The other swaps brought outfielder Paulo Orlando (for pitcher Horacio Ramirez, Aug. 9, 2008), first baseman Ross Gload (for pitcher Andrew Sisco, Dec. 16. 2006) and pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Danny Cortes (for pitcher Mike MacDougal, July 24, 2006). Orlando hit .261 for Single-A Wilmington this year; the others are gone. . . . Getz, in a teleconference with reporters, noted: “I was actually being platooned, I wasn’t playing much against lefties. I hope I’m in a situation where I can get more at-bats against lefties. Who knows how it’s all going to play out?” Getz, a left-handed batter, hit .265 (82-for-310) against righties, .246 (16-for-65) versus lefties. . . . Fields, who popped 23 homers in his rookie season of 2007, believes swinging in more wide-open Kauffman Stadium might help him: “You get to a big park and you start disregarding the home run and take good relaxed swings at balls and take what you get. You actually become a better hitter in a bigger park instead of just trying to hit home runs all the time.”
— Dick Kaegel
So now it’s a real deal. The Royals have traded Mark Teahen and cash to the White Sox in exchange for second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.
The Royals announced the trade on Friday, a day after the report was widely circulated.
Teahen, who played both infield and outfield for the Royals, could replace Jermaine Dye as the White Sox right fielder or take over at third base. The White Sox declined their option on Dye’s $12-million contract for 2010.
Just how Getz and Fields would fit into the Royals’ plans remains to be seen. The Royals’ incumbents at those players’ prime positions are .300 hitter Alberto Callaspo at second base and projected star Alex Gordon at third base.
Getz, 26, was Chicago’s primary second baseman last season although he was slowed by a sports hernia which required surgery on Oct. 2. He’s reported about ready to resume his baseball work.
Callaspo gave the Royals a big season at bat, eventually swinging No. 5 in the lineup. No only did he hit .300 but he hit the first 11 home runs of his career with eight triples, 41 doubles and 73 RBIs. But the Royals want to improve their defense, which ranked last in the American League, and Callaspo had 17 errors last season.
Getz, a left-handed batter who hit .262 as a rookie in 2009, played just 107 games with 18 doubles, four triples, two homers and 32 RBIS. But he adds another Royals’ need with speed on the bases. He had 25 steals in 27 attempts.
Fields, also 26, had an impressive rookie season in 2007 when he hit 23 homers and drove in 67 runs while batting .244 in 100 games for the Sox. But Joe Crede reclaimed the third-base job in 2008 and Fields lost out to Gordon Beckham this year.
However, it’s possible that Beckham could move into the Sox’s vacated second-base spot with Teahen playing third base.
Because Fields also has played first base, he could fill a role behind Billy Butler if the Royals decide not to tender Mike Jacobs a contract.
Teahen, 28, gives the Sox versatility. Aquired from the A’s by the Royals in the three-club 2004 Carlos Beltran deal, he played third base in 2005 and 2006, then switched to the outfield when Gordon took over at third base in 2007. Teahen has played right field as well as left and center and first base. Oddly enough, he began 2009 season as the starting second baseman but had to return to third base in early April when Gordon underwent hip surgery.
In his five seasons with Kansas City, Teahen batted .269 in 676 games with 59 homers, 24 triples, 146 doubles and 293 RBIs. His career on-base percentage is .331.
Teahen, a left-handed batter who hits to all fields, this year had a .271 average with 12 homers, 50 RBIs in 144 games, including 99 starts at third base, 31 in right field and three at second.
The cash given up by the Royals will help the Sox pay the expected raise Teahen can be expected to get in salary arbitration. He earned $3.575 million this year and could get into the $5-million range next season. By contrast, Getz made $401,000 and Fields made $410,000 this year and they are not eligible for arbitration.
If Mark Teahen has been traded to the White Sox, he did not know about it Thursday morning as he headed to work out at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz.
A report by Bill Madden in the New York Daily News said the White Sox had agreed to send second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields to the Royals in exchange for Teahen. The premise was that Teahen would replace Jermaine Dye, expected to leave the Sox as a free agent, in right field.
But, as of 10 a.m. CT Thursday, Teahen hadn’t heard anything from the Royals.
“Nope,” Teahen said. “My text messages have been blowing up the last 30 minutes or so but until I hear something from a team official, to me it’s just another one of those rumors. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s the first of the offseason or if it’s in print or whatever but it seems to have gotten more people’s attention than previous rumors.”
Messages to Royals officials for comment were not immediately returned.
Teahen was headed to the Royals’ complex for exercises to strengthen his back.
“I heard the rumor was the Red Sox first thing this morning but maybe they just had the wrong Sox,” Teahen said wryly.
Teahen, who came to the Royals as a third baseman in the 2004 three-team Carlos Beltran trade, shifted to right field in 2007. Ironically, he tied Dye’s Royals record of 17 outfield assists that season.
In 2008, he played both corner outfield positions as well as the infield. This year, he began the season as the starting second baseman but soon shifted to third base as injured Alex Gordon’s replacement. When Gordon returned, Teahen played primarily in right.
This year he batted .271 with 12 homers, 50 RBIs in 144 games.
Getz was the White Sox’s regular second baseman, batting .261 with two homers and 31 RBIs in 107 games. Although second baseman Alberto Callaspo hit .300 for the Royals, the club is interested in an upgrade defensively.
Fields hit .222 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 79 games. He lost the regular third-base job to Gordon Beckham.
Teahen frequently was the subject of trade rumors in the last offseason too so he’s used to it.
“Right up to the World Series there wasn’t much talk but I’m glad they didn’t waste any time. First thing in the morning and they’re on it,” he said.
“I really haven’t debated getting traded. I felt like I did a good job in the role the Royals wanted me in this year. But I understand the way the pay scale goes and if I get paid more, it’s tough for the Royals to hold on to a guy like me. I figured I’d be in some more rumors this offseason, I didn’t figure they’d start on the first day of the offseason like this.”
Teahen made $3.575 million this year and is again eligible for arbitration.
“I’ve just got to assume I’m coming back to the Royals and if something changes, I’ll go from there,” he said.
Now here’s something that you might have missed: The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has decided that Zack Greinke should win the American League Cy Young Award. This is a group of 89 bloggers that took a vote and made Zack the overwhelming winner over the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez. In fact, Greinke got all the first-place votes among the 19 blogs that voted for the AL winner.
There was good news in the Sporting News’ selection of Greinke as its Pitcher of the Year because that publication’s winner has been the same as the AL Cy Young winner since 1995.
An award is also waiting for Zack in Kansas City from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which picked him as winner of the AL Bullet Rogan Award. The NLBM’s annual awards dinner comes in January.
At any rate, the preliminary rounds of pitching awards seem to all be going to Greinke. If he doesn’t win the Cy Young on Nov. 17, it’s going to be a surprise.
Royals Billy Butler and Mark Teahen are among a group of 53 athletes nominated for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service through an agreement with All Stars Helping Kids. Fans can vote through Nov. 15 at www.allstarshelpingkids.org/teammates. It’s always good for folks to chime in with votes for our boys.
— Dick Kaegel
Now that the Royals have traded for Yuniesky Betancourt to fill their shortstop need and Ryan Freel to help in the outfield and infield, nothing seems bubbling.
General manager Dayton Moore was asked if more deals might be in the works before the deadline and he was noncommittal.
“At this time of year, it’s active, it’s unpredictable and things can pop up nightly as rosters change due to other trades and injuries and so forth. But right now we’re just monitoring our team and needs of others,” Moore said.
The Royals really need to do is add some offensive production to a club that has been running last in the American League in that vital category called runs scored.
What the Royals are not likely to do is part with the likes of pitchers Zack Greinke and Luke Hochevar, first baseman Billy Butler, third baseman Alex Gordon or closer Joakim Soria – the young core of their club.
“We need to hang on to our good young players as most clubs try to do so any deal we make would be centered around holding on to our good young players,” Moore said.
Vet pitcher Gil Meche isn’t likely to be on the market either although his current back woes would likely dull any interest anyhow. Brian Bannister has emerged as an effective pitcher and, at 28, he’s not really in the “super youth” category. Still, the most common names being floated, as usual, are outfielder David DeJesus and infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen.
“As you know, I won’t talk about the specifics but we’ll always be open to good baseball deals that help our team today and long-term,” Moore said.
For the MLB.com feature called “Around the Cage,” we asked some of the Royals about power hitting. Here’s what they had to say:
Who’s the best power hitter in the game today?
Trey Hillman: “I’d have to say Pujols. He has the ability to use all fields, hit ’em on all counts, certainly one of the most feared hitters. I would say Albert.”
Willie Bloomquist: “Pujols. I haven’t seen him play a lot but he doesn’t miss. You either walk him or he’s going to hit something hard somewhere. He’s an absolute pure hitter with a ton of pop behind it. So everything I’ve heard is pretty much on a par for what I see. He’s legit.”
Who could hit the most and the longest home runs?
Mark Teahen: “I’m gonna go with Carlos Pena, because I’ve seen him hit a couple of balls (at Kauffman Stadium) that were ridiculous.”
Hillman: “I’d say Pujols fits into both of those. Distance, I’d put Jake (Mike Jacobs) in there. We’ve seen him hit a couple that have knocked our socks off but I think we’re going to see more that have more distance than most home runs have.”
Bloomquist: “(For longest) probably Josh Hamilton. His swing is kind of made for it, especially playing in Texas which is kind of a launching pad. (For most) They don’t pitch to Pujols enough; if they’d pitch to him, no problem. I would say probably Alex Rodriguez because of the protection he has in the lineup, he’s going to get pitched to. And that stadium is kind of a band box from what I understand. So I would go with him.”
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
Mike Aviles and Mark Teahen weren’t in Sunday’s high-scoring rout at the Mariners’ ballpark but they weren’t idle.
They were left behind in Surprise to play in a Triple-A game, giving shortstop Aviles and would-be second baseman Mark Teahen another chance to work together. Another of manager Trey Hillman’s motives was to give Aviles some swings in a relaxed atmosphere after he’d had a rough 0-for-3 game against the Rangers.
No report on how the fielding went but the hitting went well. Aviles went 3-for-5 with a triple and Teahen was 2-for-5.
Against the Mariners, Alberto Callaspo played the whole game at second and he had a real blast at the plate with four hits including three doubles in the 17-12 win.
Hillman, by the way, gave a hint that there’s a chance the Royals might not open with 12 pitchers and 13 position players after all. Because of three open dates in April, there have been discussions about keeping just 11 pitchers for a while.
“I don’t think it’s going to go there but it has come up – what about the possibility of going 14 and 11?” Hillman said.
As far as the rotation goes, he’s taken the three off days into consideration and concluded the Royals will need a fifth starter at least twice during April.
One more thing. Aviles and Teahen both took batting practice on Sunday morning against left-hander John Bale, the first live BP that he’s thrown since returning to camp after thyroid surgery.
“He threw 25, 26 pitches and the ball got out of his hand better than I anticipated,” Hillman said. “He looked pretty good.”
The Royals will try to get Bale into a game before camp breaks. After undergoing surgery, Bale is regaining strength and weight – he’s up to about 212 after getting down to about 200. But he’s not likely to be ready for the start of the season, at least on the Major League level.
— Dick Kaegel