Royals manager Ned Yost saw the ultimate example of Willie Bloomquist’s usefulness in the space of two innings in Friday night’s 10-inning, 2-1 win at Anaheim. Bloomquist, as a pinch-runner, stole a base and scored the tying run in the ninth inning. Then he belted a RBI single for the winning run in the 10th.
“He’s a National League player – that’s a National League style. A National League player can have a major impact on a game. You can sit there for nine innings and jump right into the fray and make a difference,” Yost said.
“It’s a little more difficult to do that in the American League. But what Willie brings is a comfort that I can do anything I need to do.”
The stolen base was impressively made while the third batter, Mike Aviles, was up and he did it successfully because he bided his time and picked just the right spot.
“He was making sure he gave himself the best opportunity to be successful instead of just blindly running,” Yost said.
Next pitch Aviles ripped a double and Bloomquist scored from second.
Bloomquist finished the game at first base and made a sharp fielding play and throw to second base for a force-out in the ninth. That’s another part of Bloomquist’s value.
“You can play him absolutely anywhere in the field with the exception of behind the plate and I’m not so sure that he couldn’t handle that,” Yost said.
Bloomquist was on deck in the 10th and had not yet batted in the game so the Angels walked David DeJesus intentionally to get to him.
“I was not the least bit upset when they walked David DeJesus yesterday because I just knew that Willie was one of the guys, just like (Wilson) Betemit, who’s out hitting early, he’s prepared to get in that game and be successful. And that’s what you want your bench people to do.”
Bloomquist ripped a RBI single and, after a slow start this season, that made him 14-for-38, .368, since May 22.
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.
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
The Royals moved to plug their shortstop gap by acquiring Yuniesky Betancourt from the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
Betancourt, plus cash, was obtained in exchange for Minor League pitchers Danny Cortes and Derrick Saito.
However, Betancourt will not join the Royals immediately because he’s on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and has just begun an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Tacoma. He’ll continue his rehab work with the Royals’ Double-A club at Northwest Arkansas.
Betancourt, a .250 hitter in 63 games this season for the Mariners, has two homers, 10 doubles, a triple and 22 RBIs. However, he’s a career .279 hitter in five seasons with the Mariners since making his debut in 2005. A right-handed hitter, he’s tough to strike out, an average of just once in every 11.83 plate appearances.
His 341 double plays rank second in Major League Baseball to the 357 by Oakland’s Orlando Cabrera.
The Royals have been struggling to fill shortstop since Mike Aviles, their 2008 Player of the Year, was injured early this season. He’s out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Willie Bloomquist has started 27 games at shortstop but that’s not considered to be his prime position. Still on the roster is Tony Pena Jr., strong defensively but hitting just .089. Another shortstop, Luis Hernandez, was designated for assignment last Tuesday.
Cortes was assigned to the Mariners’ Double-A team at West Tennessee and Saito will go to Single-A Clinton.
— Dick Kaegel
Royals shortstop Mike Aviles will undergo reconstructive surgery on his right elbow and will be out for the rest of the season, manager Trey Hillman announced on Wednesday.
“Mike Aviles is going to have Tommy John surgery a week from today,” Hillman said. “Dr. (Lewis) Yocum will be doing it in LA. We came to this conclusion after further testing. Obviously, there is ligament damage.”
Aviles has been on the disabled list since May 23 with what was described as a right forearm strain. Hillman said the strain was a result of the elbow damage.
After giving the elbow a period of rest, the problem did not calm down and surgery was deemed necessary.
“Typical with position players, there’s a nine-to-12 month recovery period,” Hillman said.
That means Aviles would, at a minimum, be out until next April.
Aviles has been in Arizona going through an injury rehabilitation program. He played 36 games this season and batted just .183 with one home run and eight RBIs.
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.
The only three Royals players unsigned are shortstop Mike Aviles, first baseman Billy Butler and outfielder Mitch Maier.
The club announced Saturday that six players had signed contracts: pitchers Julio Pimentel and Robinson Tejeda; catcher Brayan Pena; first baseman Ryan Shealy; second baseman Alberto Callaspo, and outfielder Shane Costa.
— Dick Kaegel