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.
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.
The Royals were close to signing a deal with outfielder Scott Podsednik on Friday.
Podsednik, a free agent, is expected to take over the Royals’ center field spot. A speedster, the left-handed batter last season hit .304 for the Chicago White Sox with a .353 on-base percentage and 30 stolen bases.
No terms of the deal, expected to be signed if all went well with a physical examination in Kansas City, were known immediately.
The Royals began last season with Coco Crisp in center field but he was shut down after 49 games and subsequently underwent surgery on both shoulders. The Royals declined their $8-million contract option on Crisp for 2010 and he signed with the Oakland A’s.
The Royals also had talked to agents for prospective center fielders such as Rick Ankiel and Randy Winn but Podsednik had been in their sights most of the offseason. He seemed the most logical fit because he figures as a top-of-the-lineup batter along with left fielder David DeJesus.
The Royals also signed Brian Anderson, another ex-White Sox outfielder, this offseason and have holdover Mitch Maier as another experienced center fielder.
Podsednik, 33, has a .277 career average in nine Major League seasons with Seattle, Milwaukee, Colorado and the White Sox.
Coco Crisp sounds as if he’d really like to come back to the Royals next season but, as a free agent, he’s kind of caught in the middle. Surgery on both shoulders last summer makes him a gamble for teams to sign before they can judge his recovery and that might not be possible until January or whenever he can resume full baseball activities. For his part, Crisp says he’s feeling good and expects to be back to normal – maybe even better with his repairs – this season.
Crisp was impressive last spring, changing his approach at the plate to coax more walks and being aggressive on the bases. He looked like an ideal leadoff man and was roaming center field wide and free. A good guy with a terrific family, he was a calm veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Royals GM Dayton Moore was impressed with him but, due to the uncertainty of Crisp’s condition, feels compelled to look at other alternatives such as free agent Scott Podsednik and the Orioles’ Felix Pie. Of course, the Royals already have Mitch Maier in house with considerable potential and Josh Anderson as a backup. Another alternative would be to move David DeJesus back to center field from left and try newcomer Josh Fields in left.
The bottom line consideration, as usual, would be what money Crisp would want to come back. During a long phone conversation, we asked if he’d come up with a price.
“Yeah, yeah, a hundred million dollars per year, obviously,” he said merrily. “That’d be OK with me.”
Coco always comes with a smile.
The Royals designated for assignment shortstop Tony Pena Jr. and optioned center fielder Mitch Maier to Triple-A Omaha on Thursday.
The moves cleared roster space for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and third baseman Alex Gordon. Both are coming off the disabled list and will be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Pitcher Sidney Ponson reported from his injury rehabilitation assignment but remained on the disabled list.
The Royals listed their starting rotation for the Tampa Bay series. Brian Bannister will start the Friday night opener, followed by All-Star Zack Greinke on Saturday night and Luke Hochevar on Sunday.
The club will further evaluate the status of Gil Meche, who left his last start because of a back spasm.
In addition, shortstop Luis Hernandez cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Omaha. He had been designated for assignment by the Royals
Royals center fielder Coco Crisp will undergo right shoulder surgery on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season, manager Trey Hillman said on Tuesday.
Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery to repair a labrum tear at Birmingham, Ala.
“So he’s out for the season and, obviously, that’s not what we were looking for but it’s something that needs to be done,” Hillman said. “They don’t know exactly what they’re going to have to do until they get in there but they’ve got a pretty good idea.”
Crisp was hampered swinging, particularly from the left side, and was hitting just .228 in 49 games. As the leadoff batter, though, he drew 29 walks and had a healthy on-base percentage of .336 along with 13 stolen bases.
He’s been replaced in center field recently by Mitch Maier although Willie Bloomquist could see action there as well.
Crisp is expected to spend at least two or three days in Birmingham after the surgery and then his program will depend on the exact nature of the procedure, Hillman said.
There’s a feature on MLB.com called “Around the Cage” that focuses on various topics each day during the week. Here’s what some of our Royals had to say recently.
Kyle Farnsworth on if the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is the best in baseball: “The ones I’ve been involved in, I think it is. Definitely the fans get into it a lot. The Cubs-Cardinals, that’s a good one, too, but Boston-New York it’s intense. And the games always seem to last four, four-and-a-half hours, they always seem to be marathon games and exciting. I enjoyed them a lot. I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just one of those things that’s fun to play in. Both of them are, but the Yankees-Red Sox just seems to be more intense and everything for some reason. It might be (the northeastern mentality), just the hard-nosed stuff like that.”
Mitch Maier on his feelings about being drafted in the first round by the Royals: “I was excited and nervous. I was pretty sure I was going to get drafted where I was. . . . I had my college coach with me at home and my family. It’s definitely exciting and kind of nerve-wracking because everything is out of your hands at that time. You’re kind of just sitting there waiting to find out where you’re going to go. . . . (When the call came) I was ecstatic. I was thrilled. It’s hard to explain. It’s what you, as a kid growing up, dream about. Getting an opportunity to have that fulfilled is a huge moment.”
Brian Bannister on whether suspended Manny Ramirez, if voted in by the fans, should be allowed to play in the All-Star Game: “Honestly I think it should be a fan vote. The game is for the fans and if the fans support a player enough to elect him, then it’s almost like a jury in a courtroom, I think. The fans should be allowed to vote on whether he plays or not. I think that’d be a fair way and it’d really show what the fans are leaning toward. That’s the way we decide it in a courtroom and that’s the way we should decide it on a baseball field.”
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
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