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.
Will center fielder Rick Ankiel, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, be ready when he’s eligible for reinstatement on May 18?
“I’m not sure if he’s ready to come off at the appropriate date but we’ll see,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Monday.
The quad was thought to be a minor thing back when Ankiel came out of a game on April 24. He was used as a pinch-hitter twice during the Tampa Bay series, May 1-2.
“If we thought it was going to be longer, he wouldn’t have pinch-hit,” Moore said. “We expected him to play two of the four in Tampa Bay and Trey (Hillman) decided to wait and give him a couple days without playing so he could play all three games in Chicago. And that Sunday he realized that he couldn’t go and we had to make a move.”
That’s when Ankiel went on the DL and Kila Ka’aihue was called up. This is reminiscent of the ankle injury that Ankiel suffered in Spring Training. Initially he was going to be out just a day or two but it turned into an 18-day absence.
Luke Hochevar might have been throwing up in the bullpen during his warm-ups on Sunday at Texas but he still insisted on pitching. “I haven’t been feeling well for the past couple of days or so, but it wasn’t this bad. But I can still throw strikes. I don’t care how bad it is. Regardless, I’ve got to keep us in that ballgame better than I did,” he said. He was pulled in the third inning after giving up four runs on four walks and three hits. . . . Nobody was watching on Sunday when the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton didn’t come close to tagging up at first base after a catch. He advanced to second while a run scored on a sac fly and the Royals failed to appeal. “You would hope your first baseman would catch that . . . and a lot of times somebody picks it up in the dugout,” Hillman said. “We were pretty well-located to see that play. I didn’t see it at the time that it happened.” Turns out Billy Butler was watching the play at the plate along with everyone else. . . . Rule 5 pick Edgar Osuna pitched six innings in Northwest Arkansas’ 8-1 win over Tulsa on Sunday, boosting his record to 4-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.09.
Rick Ankiel might get back into center field when the Royals open a three-game series at Chicago on Monday night. He hasn’t been in the starting lineup for eight straight games because of what’s termed a mild right quad strain.
It’s the first quad problem that Ankiel has had as a pro and manager Trey Hillman didn’t want to risk further injury on the artificial turf of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. But if it’s suitably warm in Chicago, he might turn Ankiel loose on the natural grass of U.S. Cellular Field.
Hillman used Alex Gordon at first base for the last three innings of Saturday night’s game and says he might see more duty there as needed. For the time being, Gordon is sitting the bench as Alberto Callaspo takes over third base now that Chris Getz is back at second base. . . . Blake Wood seems to be getting on track as Triple-A Omaha’s closer. He picked up back-to-back saves against Iowa to reach five for the season. Kila Ka’aihue hit his seventh homer in a 2-1 win over Iowa. . . . Right-hander Tim Melville, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008, was banged for nine runs in four innings as Single-A Wilmington lost to Winston-Salem, 10-5. Melville is 1-3 with an 11.88 ERA. . . . There were 20 walks, including 13 by Single-A Burlington pitchers, in the Bees’ 9-6 win over Quad Cities. Right-hander Tyler Sample, KC’s third-round draft pick in 2008, got his first win despite issuing six walks in five innings. He gave up just two runs.
Left-hander John Parrish hopes he’ll be out for only the minimum 15 days on the disabled list with his rotator cuff problem. He was one of the Royals’ most dependable relievers early this season so manager Trey Hillman hopes that’s the case.
“I’m thankful that it’s only inflammation and we are sure that it’s only inflammation so that’s a big plus,” Hillman said. “Because whether you think you’ve overused a guy or not overused a guy, you still feel responsible and it costs him opportunities to go out there and do what he needs to do.”
News item: Luke Hughes, an Australian, is the first Twins player to whack a home run in his first at-bat since 1984. Question: Who was the last previous guy to do it? Answer: Andre David, former Royals hitting coach who is now the hitting coach for their Surprise Rookie team. David also hit his at Detroit – in old Tiger Stadium, of course – and it was the only homer in Andre’s two-year Major League career. . . . Outfielder Buck Coats is leading the Omaha Royals with a .314 average. . . . Derrick Robinson, with a stolen base on Wednesday night, made it steals in six straight games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He had 10 bags in that span and was leading the Texas League with 15. The center fielder also had a .329 average. . . . First baseman Eric Hosmer’s streak of reaching base for Single-A Wilmington was snapped at 19 games. But his sac fly drove in the only run of a 2-1 loss at Salem. . . . Single-A Burlington catcher Wil Myers has hit .314 (11-for-35) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last nine games after starting the season 8-for-43, .186.
Jason Kendall matched Jim Sundberg for number of games caught, 1,927, in Wednesday’s game against the Mariners. That’s sixth on the all-time list. Kendall has sat out just one game this season. What’s the secret to his iron-man approach?
“Right after we signed him, we actually asked him that question and it’s a very simple answer, he said it’s a mindset,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “Obviously there’s a lot of physical that goes with that but he expects to play every day.”
The physical maintenance comes with experience. “We’re seeing him throw a lot better now than he did in Spring Training. That’s a process with him. He does a real good job of listening to his body,” Hillman said. Kendall is the only catcher in the Majors to make at least 130 starts in each of the last eight seasons. This should make it nine.
“Just to be brutally honest, if our record was 12-8 instead of 8-12, it’d be easy to give him a day off,” Hillman said.
Second baseman Chris Getz came out of his first rehab game with Triple-A Omaha in good shape. He played nine innings of a 10-inning, 3-2 loss to Albuquerque and had two hits. . . . Left-hander Edgar Osuna finally gave up a couple runs, both on solo homers, but pitched Double-A Northwest Arkansas to a 6-2 win at Springfield. His ERA is 0.78 through 23 innings. Reliever Blaine Hardy worked three hitless innings for the save and has yet to allow a run in 15 innings. . . . First baseman Eric Hosmer doubled and walked in Single-A Wilmington’s 15-5 loss at Salem and has reached base in all of the Blue Rocks’ 19 games. . . . Catcher Wil Myers hit his second three-run homer in two days as Single-A Burlington beat Beloit, 13-3. . . . JoAnne Fluke of Ottawa, Kan., who provides the art of dance to individuals with physical disabilities, was in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat on Wednesday.
Manager Trey Hillman likes stability in his lineup so he trotted out a familiar one for Saturday night’s game against the Twins:
David DeJesus, rf
Scott Podsednik, lf
Billy Butler, 1b\
Jose Guillen, dh
Alberto Callaspo, 2b
Rick Ankiel, cf
Jason Kendall, c
Alex Gordon, 3b
Yuni Betancourt, ss
Luke Hochevar was the pitcher. Although a light rain was falling, the Royals were hoping for the 6:10 p.m. CT start or close to it so the prospects were looking good for Zack Greinke Bobblehead Night.
— Dick Kaegel
Third baseman Alex Gordon is back.
The Royals announced early Saturday morning that Gordon is re-joining the club, coming off the disabled list while second baseman Chris Getz goes on it.
Getz went on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday, with a strained right oblique. This was a sharp turnaround from manager Trey Hillman’s hope expressed on Friday night that Getz would be back in a day or two.
Getz was scratched from the Royals’ lineup just prior to the Royals’ 10-3 loss to the Twins on Friday night. He was batting just .209 in the Royals’ first nine games.
Gordon suffered a broken right thumb while sliding headfirst into second base on March 6 against the Texas Rangers at Surprise, Ariz. He spent seven games in injury rehabilitation with Single-A Wilmington, then was dispatched to Triple-A Omaha just on Thursday.
He joined the Omaha club at Albuquerque, played one game, and was flying to Minneapolis, scheduled to arrive at Target Field around game time (12:10 p.m. CT).
The Spring Training injury was a big setback for Gordon, who had struggled last season. He underwent major hip surgery in April and had some difficultly when he returned. But in training camp, he appeared to be in excellent shape when the injury occurred.
Gordon was Omaha’s designated hitter in Friday night’s 8-1 win at Albuquerque and went 3-for-4 with a home run. For Wilmington, he batted .235 (4-for-17) with three doubles.
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.
How ya gonna keep Kila Ka’aihue down on the farm?
Ka’aihue’s towering home run snapped a 12-12 tie in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 14-12 victory over Oakland. That gave the big first baseman from Hawaii a club-leading four home runs with 11 RBIs and his 3-for-4 boosted his average to .381 with 16 hits.
“He’s having a heck of a spring and he’s making a tremendous case for himself,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
But Ka’aihue is a first baseman-designated hitter and that’s a crowded department on the club with Billy Butler and Jose Guillen around.
“We’ve still got plenty of games left. I’m going to keep playing him,” Hillman said. “I’ve never said he’s not going to make the club and I’ve never said he’s on the club. And I’ve always said everything about him we like. So we’ll see how things go. It is a crowded spot but we need to have some run producers.”
Ka’aihue, a left-handed slugger, has seemed destined for a return to Triple-A Omaha all spring but, as the skipper likes to say, stay tuned.
Meantime on Saturday, Hillman’s pitchers (and those of the A’s) were unimpressive with Josh Rupe especially banged around. Rupe was making a strong case for a bullpen spot but, in starting against the A’s, he coughed up six runs in the first two innings.
Brad Thompson and Bryan Bullington each gave up three runs in three innings. But Thompson did pitch out of some jams and Bullington followed one bad inning with two good ones.
“I was real pleased that Thompson battled through some adversity and figured out a way to stop the bleeding,” Hillman said.
Hillman was also happy with the way Bullington finished up and how the ball was getting out of his hand.
The skipper had to get after Roman Colon, who was brought in to pitch the ninth with a two-run lead and immediately walked the leadoff batter. After ball one to the next batter, Hillman jumped up and went to the mound for an intense one-on-one.
“I thought he was too concerned about a runner on first base there in that situation and I just wanted to eliminate that,” Hillman said.
Colon got a strikeout, gave up a single, then retired the next two batters to end the slugfest.
Billy Butler continued his hot hitting in Friday’s 8-4 win over the Dodgers. He went 3-for-3 which gave him 13 hits in his last 22 at-bats and raised his Cactus League average to .429 (21-for-49).
The Royals put the Dodgers at a disadvantage by using the American League DH while Dem Bums played it National League straight by letting the pitcher bat. But it was OK’d by LA manager Joe Torre, an agreeable sort.
“We had to get it cleared. Thankfully we were playing a team that didn’t mind. They’ve got to agree to it,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
And, with Butler’s three singles and Kila Ka’aihue’s home run and single, the Royals’ DH slot was 5-for-5 with three runs scored and three driven in. Thank you, Joe.
By the way, Ka’aihue leads the club with three homers and is hitting .342 but still is regarded as having little chance to make the club. But who knows?
Hillman was pleased by the two left-handers who succeeded Zack Greinke to the mound. Dusty Hughes gave up a run-scoring single immediately after replacing Greinke in the sixth but then worked two scoreless innings.
“Up to today it’s been a little bit of a very inconsistent and rough spring for him from what we wanted to see,” Hillman said.
John Parrish, who missed last season after shoulder surgery, worked a perfect ninth with one strikeout.
“Very good, very in command, best I’ve seen pitch-to-pitch from him,” Hillman said.