Always interesting going into Spring Training to look at the uniform numbers that will be popping up on new guys or on old guys who will be changing digits.
Manager Ned Yost will move up from No. 2 to No. 3, honoring his late, great friend, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. The number was vacated when Yuniesky Betancourt was traded to the Brewers.
The new shortstop, Alcides Escobar, takes over 2. Other newcomers and their numbers include Jeff Francis, 26; Vin Mazzaro, 32; Melky Cabrera, 53, and Jeff Francoeur, 21. Lorenzo Cain, the center fielder who came in the Zack Greinke deal, gets 6 and he’s already been warned by its former owner, Willie Wilson, that he expects a lot.
Cabrera wore 28 for the Yankees but switched to Bobby Abreu’s old 53 in 2009 after his buddy signed with the Angels. The Royals’ Kanekoa Texeira yielded 53 and took over 50 from bench coach John Gibbons. Nobody knew what number Gibbons was anyway because he always managed to wear some sort of jacket, even in 90-degree weather. There are some who suspect Gibbons never wears a uniform top. If he does this year, it’ll be 49.
Doug Sisson, the new first-base coach, will have 11, long worn with distinction by Hal McRae.
There’s no sentimentality involved for long-term favorites who were traded. Outfielder Derrick Robinson takes over David DeJesus’ 9 and infielder Jeff Bianchi was assigned Greinke’s 23.
For the Brewers, Greinke will wear 13 and maybe that’s why his buddy, Mike Aviles, is switching his Royals number from 30 to 13.
Who’s No. 1? That’s back on the back of center fielder Jarrod Dyson. The Royals’ most distinguished 1 was Cookie Rojas.
Royals catcher Jason Kendall will undergo right shoulder surgery on Friday and is out for the season, manager Ned Yost announced on Wednesday.
“He had an MRI on his shoulder on Monday and it showed extensive tearing in his rotator cuff,” Yost said. “It will be somewhere between eight to 10 months before he’s back.”
Although Yost said he hoped to have Kendall back “by the spring,” even just eight months would carry through the first month of the 2011 season in April. Kendall will be in the second year of his Royals contract.
Yost said Kendall was injured in mid-July sliding into a base against Oakland.
The catching for the last 30 games will be handled by backup Brayan Pena and Lucas May, just called up from Triple-A Omaha.
Kendall, who’d been an iron man behind the plate for most of this season, played in 118 games and batted .256.
The Royals extended the contract of manager Ned Yost for two years on Saturday.
Yost took over the Royals from Trey Hillman, who was dismissed, on May 14. Since then the club has posted a 31-37 mark.
The 55-year-old Yost managed the Milwaukee Brewers from 2003 until late in the 2008 season, compiling a 457-502 record. He was hired by the Royals last winter as a special advisor of baseball operations.
The announcement came just after the Royals made a deal at the trade deadline, sending outfielder Rick Ankiel and reliever Kyle Farnsworth and cash to the Braves for three players.
Royals pitcher Gil Meche likely will undergo surgery on his right shoulder and miss the rest of the season, manager Ned Yost said on Tuesday.
The exact nature and date of the surgery were not known.
Meche threw for Triple-A Omaha in an injury rehabilitation appearance on Monday and gave up seven runs in four innings.
“It didn’t go real well. He’s still experiencing some pain in his shoulder and so our next move is that he’ll probably go and have some surgery on it to figure out exactly what’s wrong and repair it,” Yost said.
“That’s probably going to be the next step. We’re still evaluating but it looks like that’s probably what we’re going to have to do.”
Meche has been on the disabled list with what was originally listed as right shoulder bursitis since last pitching for the Royals on May 25.
“When he gets in and is evaluating fully by the doctor, I imagine it’ll be some type of cleanup in there with the scope,” Yost said. “He still has irritation and it’s not getting better so we’re looking at probably scoping it and getting it cleaned up and having him ready for next year.”
Meche came out of a Cactus League game in Arizona on March 22 after three innings with shoulder tightness. He worked his way back and his first start of the season was delayed until April 9.
This would be the second straight year that Meche’s season has ended early. In 2009, back problems kept him from starting after Aug. 29. An iron man in his first two seasons with the Royals, he was limited to 23 starts and had a 6-10 record and 5.09 ERA.
“He’s a little down right now,” Yost said. “He worked really hard to do everything he could do to get back without having this happen but common sense says you can fight this and fight it and fight it but you get to the point where you have surgery later and that jeopardizes what we need him for next year. So go ahead and get it done as soon as we can and hopefully have him ready to go next year.”
Meche made just nine starts this season and was 0-4 with a 6.66 ERA.
“He came and pitched effectively at times during the season. This is almost kind of like a last resort thing. We exhausted every other option that we could do so that we wouldn’t have to come to this. But this is what it’s come to and we have to move forward with it,” Yost said.
“It’s always a blow when you lose a guy that has the capability to win games like Gil does but you fix it and you move on.”
Meche next season will be in the last year of his original free agent five-year, $55-million contract with the Royals.
On the upside, disabled starter Luke Hochevar (right elbow sprain) had a good throwing session on Monday. He’s been out since June 12 and, at the moment, there’s no target date for him to return to throwing off the mound.
“But it’ll be very soon,” Yost said.
Kyle Davies’ contribution to the Royals’ 10-inning, 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night might get lost in the ecstasy over the overtime win.
But, as manager Ned Yost noted, Davies limited the damage very well in his seven innings. He pitched out of jams and helped himself with no walks, an indication that this command-challenged pitcher is getting a strong hand on his fastball.
“That’s the big thing. You gotta make them put the ball in play,” Davies said. “You look at all the hits, I think there was one home run and how many singles? (Eight.) . . . For the most part I made them have to put good swings on the ball and they couldn’t drive it.”
Davies had no decision and remained winless in his last eight starts. But he’s been very impressive to Yost, especially in his last four outings.
“He just pitched a nice game tonight,” Yost said.
Davies has gone seven, 7 2/3, six and seven innings in his last four games.
“That’s what I have to pitch at. I have to pound the strike zone and get some quick outs. I know they got 10 hits, but for the most part they were pretty soft singles,” he said. “As a pitcher, you just want to keep [your team] in the ball game and you can’t do that by walking them and running up your pitch count.”
Davies made 93 pitches including 57 strikes. That’s one of his best percentages this season.
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.
Being at Fenway Park gave Royals manager Ned Yost a chance, when prompted by reporters, to re-live his crucial home run for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982. It was a three-run, ninth-inning shot over the Green Monster that gave the Brew Crew a 6-3 win over the Red Sox in the waning days of their championship run.
“The funny thing about it, it was like a college atmosphere. The players met me halfway (to the plate) because they knew how big it was, too,” Yost recalled..
There was more to the story.
“I put on the shin guards and the pitcher came over and grabbed me by the shirt and yelled, ‘Hey! We’ve got three more outs to go. Now get your head in the game!’ I said, ‘All right, all right,’ ” Yost said, sitting on the same bench in the visitors’ dugout..
Yost paused for the kicker.
“The pitcher was Bob McClure.”
McClure, of course, is now Yost’s pitching coach with the Royals.
That Yost tale and others were included in a lengthy feature story posted on royals.com Tuesday.
Yost and the Brewers went on to win the division title that weekend at Baltimore and, of course, wound up in the 1982 World Series which they lost to the Cardinals. Yost, as the backup catcher, got just one at-bat in the Fall Classic.
“I walked,” Yost said. “I never walked and I got up against John Stuper and I said, ‘This is my one World Series appearance and I’m going deep.’ I was swinging out of my rear end, trying to hit a home run and the guy ended up walking me.”
One home run that entire year was all that Yost would get but it was a big one.
Ned Yost was hoping the Royals had long memories when they faced the Texas Rangers on Tuesday and Wednesday. In fact, short memories would do because the Rangers’ embarrassing four-game sweep of the Royals took place just last May 6-9.
“Absolutely,” Yost said. “I think that if everybody on our team doesn’t want to extract a little revenge, there’s something wrong with them because that wasn’t a fun series for anybody. I mean I watched it on TV and it wasn’t fun for me.”
The sweep at Texas likely was the last straw for Trey Hillman as manager of the Royals. Three days later, he was dismissed. And so each of these two games is not just another ballgame.
“Go ahead, get ready, boys, get back at ’em. That’s my philosophy,” Yost said.
“I don’t think it’s like a playoff-type mindset but you definitely remember those types of situations when you go in and you have a rough series and you get swept. It’s fresh in their minds and I don’t think they want that to happen again.”
Left fielder Alex Gordon went 3-for-4 and raised his average to .362 in Triple-A Omaha’s 4-1 win over Colorado Springs. Even though Gordon is hitting well and making progress as he converts to the outfield, the Royals brought up infielder Wilson Betemit instead of Gordon on Tuesday. That made sense because Gordon needs to continue playing, not sit on the bench at Kansas City. There’s no spot right now in KC where he could be playing every day unless Mitch Maier was lifted from the outfield and he’s been a solid player as Rick Ankiel’s replacement in center. . . . Left-hander Edgar Osuna is 5-1 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas after pitching eight innings of a 7-3 win over Arkansas. His ERA is 1.21 and, oddly enough, opponents have scored more unearned runs (12) than earned runs (7) during his nine games.
— Dick Kaegel
Third baseman Mike Moustakas keeps lighting up the sky at Springdale, Ark. He blasted a couple of two-run homers for Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Thursday as the Naturals completed a four-game sweep of Tulsa. That brought his Texas League-leading average to .394 and he was tied for the league lead in homers, 10, and RBIs, 33. And that’s despite missing 12 games because of injury.
Royals manager Ned Yost, who assessed Moustakas before taking the managerial job, was asked about the Moose’s rise toward the Major Leagues.
“He swung the bat for me very, very well. Played very good defensively there. I mean he’s getting closer,” Yost said. “There’s no thing like just going out and playing and getting experience at that level. The thing that I keep looking at in these guys is they’re getting closer. When he is ready to go, we’ll know when that time it but he’s definitely getting closer.”
Could Moustakas be thrown out onto the Kauffman Stadium diamond right now?
“I don’t have to throw him out there now so that’s something I don’t have to think about,” Yost said. “If there was something that happened and we needed a third baseman, well, then we’ll sit back and look at it. But that’s not the case now and again I try to look every single day I try to look how we can make our club better with the guys here. He’s definitely in the plans for us long-term but, as of today, we keep going with what we’re going with and we’ve done all right.”
Right-hander Aaron Crow pitched that victory for the Naturals, improving his record to 2-3. . . . Eric Hosmer’s double in Single-A Wilmington’s 9-2 loss at Lynchburg put him second in Carolina League with 16. He was leading the league with a .384 mark. . . . Twelve-year-old Dylan Peters of Olathe, Kan., was in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat on Friday night. He wrote an award-winning book, “Tic Talk – Living with Tourette Syndrome” and has spoken to thousands of kids in the Kansas City area about accepting and comforting those who suffer from personal challenges.