We’d heard that Royals games might start at 5 minutes after the hour this year but that obviously didn’t happen. It’ll still be 10 minutes after the hour for home games in 2010. The season opener at Kauffman Stadium on April 5 will have, we presume, Zack Greinke throwing the first pitch against the Tigers at 3:10 p.m. CT.
There’s just one holiday game at home this year, at 1:10 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 31, against the Angels. There’s also a 1:10 p.m. start for this year’s Saturday game against the Cardinals, set for June 26. That’ll give visiting Cardinals fans a chance to paint the town red on Saturday night. Regular start times at home will be 7:10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:10 p.m. Saturday and 1:10 p.m. Sunday. And, the Royals announced, no price increases this year for single-game tickets.
For Spring Training, the club will have 20 radio broadcasts starting on Thursday, March 4, against the Rangers. All the Cactus League games will be Webcast on royals.com, including those not on flagship station 610 Sports Radio. The radio voices remain the same – Denny Matthews, Bob Davis and Steve Stewart with Ryan Lefebvre from the TV crew also pitching in. Matthews will be launching his sixth decade behind the KC mike. Stewart will anchor the Webcasts. . . . The Royals are busy signing players with pitchers Dusty Hughes, Edgar Osuna and Blake Wood and catcher Manny Pina among the latest to ink their pacts. Osuna is the Rule 5 draft pick from the Braves. He’ll have to be kept on the regular-season roster or be offered back to the Braves for half the $50,000 purchase price. The Royals hope that Osuna, from Mazatlan, Mexico, will be as good an investment as their last Rule 5 pick from South of the Border, Joakim Soria. . . . Infielder Mario Lisson was the guy bumped from the 40-man roster when center fielder Rick Ankiel was signed. Lisson was designated for assignment. Earlier, the Royals dropped another infielder, Luis Hernandez. It’s possible, of course, that either or both could re-surface with Minor League deals.
— Dick Kaegel
The Royals have been big supporters of the military and that continues with the launch of the 2010 Royals Caravan next Tuesday at Fort Riley in Kansas.
Hall of Famer George Brett will be joined by his old pal and former catcher Jamie Quirk and the noted “Joker” and ex-third baseman Joe Randa in meeting members of the Combat Aviation Brigade. The unit of more than 2,700 soldiers is preparing to deploy overseas in the nation’s war zone.
They’ll be joined by broadcaster Joel Goldberg for the visit from 11:15 to 12:45 p.m. CT on Tuesday. The group also will visit the Cottonwood Elementary School in Salina, Kan., at 2:15 p.m. and go to that night’s basketball game at Manhattan, Kansas State vs. Texas A&M.
Should be an interesting FanFest with the ’85 World Series boys coming in. Even Buddy Black, busy as the Padres manager, is taking time to join ex-pitching buddies such as Charlie Leibrandt, Bret Saberhagen and Danny Jackson. And Hal McRae will be there with his big smile and famous cackle. . . . We hear the Royals are planning to have an alumni game next summer with the ’85ers squaring off against some of the Cardinals’ alums from the I-70 Series. Wouldn’t it be nice if new Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog could join the fun? . . . Mike Sweeney will be at next Thursday night’s Royals Awards dinner to present the award named for him – which goes to the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. This year’s winner is first baseman Clint Robinson from the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He logged many hours at the community’s schools and camps and the local Children’s Hospital. He also hit .298 with 13 dingers. Sweeney last year was surprised with the Mr. Baseball Award for his long service to Kansas City. . . . Tickets for the dinner, by the way, are on sale at www.royals.com/awardsnight. It’s 75 bucks and gets you a look at Zack Greinke, Billy Butler, Brett, Frank White and many other celebs. It’s at the Overland Park Convention Center.
— Dick Kaegel
Thanks to Curt Nelson, director of the Royals Hall of Fame, for this Cy Young tidbit:
The Royals are the only club to have three of its own draft picks win the award while pitching for their original drafting organization. That’s Zack Greinke, David Cone and Bret Saberhagen.
Going through all the winners since the Young Award began in 1956, Nelson found that the Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers had six winners who called Dem Bums their original Major League club. But the first three (Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax) came along before the draft was instituted in 1965 and Fernando Valenzuela, the 1979 winner, was purchased from the Mexican League. Actually the only Dodgers winner who was drafted was Orel Hershiser because Eric Gagne, the 2003 winner, was a non-drafted free agent.
Anyway, the A’s and Royals each had three winners they signed themselves but the A’s Catfish Hunter pre-dated the draft. So that leaves the Royals with three victorious draftees in Zack, Coney and Sabes. Of course, we must point out that Coney was traded away and then lured back by Mr. Kauffman, who sat down and wrote the pitcher a $1 million check at the Winter Meetings in 1992. Then, the spring after he won the Cy Young in the strike-shortened ’94 season, Coney was sent off to the Blue Jays.
Thanks, Curt, for the info. And if you folks haven’t yet visited the Royals Hall of Fame, it’s open even during the winter, usually from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays (not this coming Saturday, however). Or if you have a large group and want a special tour, call 816-504-4297.
— Dick Kaegel
News flash for the fashion conscious fan: The Royals next season will wear powder blue caps to match the powder blue jerseys they’ve been sporting on afternoon home games and other Easter Parade occasions.
The caps are being unveiled next week.
You can buy powder blue caps for $38 at the Majestic Team Store at the stadium starting on Nov. 24, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. In fact, former Royals Willie Wilson, Kevin Seitzer and Willie Aikens will be signing autographs at the store from noon to 2 p.m. on Nov. 27, the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Also available for holiday shoppers is Zack Greinke Cy Young merchandise. All kinds of stuff. For operating hours, you can call the store at 816-504-4045 or go to www.royals.com/teamstore.
— Dick Kaegel
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
No surprise at all about the Royals’ top awards for September and a little piece of October. Billy Butler was the Player of the Month and Zack Greinke was Pitcher of the Month. Butler, of course, was named the American League’s top player for September and Greinke was a runner-up to the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez as AL top pitcher.
Billy batted .330 in 30 games during that September-October period with 10 doubles, six homers and 26 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .422. And, of course, he made his mark by becoming the first Major Leaguer since 1900 to have four games of three doubles each in a season. That fourth game came on Sept. 9 against the Tigers. He also had a 4-for-5, two-homer game in which he drove in all the runs in a 9-4 loss to the Twins on Sept. 25.
Zack went 4-2 in six starts with a 1.38 ERA. In 39 innings, he had 40 strikeouts and gave up 30 hits and 11 walks along with six earned runs. Opponents hit just .213 against him. The big disappointment, of course, was not getting his 17th victory in his last start against the Twins. He gave up four runs in that game but just three runs (two earned) in the previous five starts.
Another fitting honor for the final month was Joakim Soria being named winner of the Majors’ Delivery Man of the Month Award. During September he had 10 saves in 10 chances and pitched 13 2/3 scoreless innings in a total of 12 games. That’s a big turnaround from his halting start which involved a stiff shoulder and time on the disabled list. Soria was happy with his 30 saves especially in light of the down time because of the shoulder and the limited save situations that came up. Soria, by the way, did not pitch in the October games.
Sorry to see John Mizerock leaving as the Royals’ bullpen coach. He logged something like 18 years in the organization and was an upbeat, fun guy who’ll be missed. He was good teacher of catchers, too, and Mike Sweeney always credited “Rock” as the guy who spurred his rise to the Majors when both were in the Minors. . . . In a front-office development, the Royals hired Michael Bucek to be vice president of marketing and business development. He’s coming from the Phoenix Coyotes in hockey but has 17 years in baseball including eight years with the White Sox and six with the Brewers. He’s a Chicago guy. . . . Top draft pick Aaron Crow is at the Arizona Instructional League in Surprise but, last we heard, he had not yet pitched in a game.
Zack Greinke won’t leave Kauffman Stadium without a flurry of activity.
Greinke, pushing for the American League Cy Young Award, will make his final Kansas City appearance at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday against the Twins and the Royals announced a “Zack Pack” ticket promotion for the game.
Starting immediately, fans can buy half-price tickets for all seats priced $33 or less excluding the $7 Fountain Seats. In addition, all Field Box, Field Plaza, Outfield Box and Loge Level tickets purchased with the office include $5 in additional value for use at concession and retail outlets at the stadium.
Also, the first 10,000 fans aged 21 or older on Sunday with receive a “Greinke for Cy” T-shirt from Miller Lite. The club is also encouraging fans to wear those T-shirts or other Greinke garb and bring small signs of support at the season’s last home game which is not being televised.
The Majestic Team Store, located near Homeplate Gate C, will offer Greinke items, except jerseys, for a 23 percent discount in honor of his uniform number.
This won’t be the last start for Greinke, who has a 15-8 record and the Majors’ best ERA of 2.08. His finale is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3, at Minnesota.
In his last five starts, Greinke has allowed just one earned run in 35 innings for a 0.26 ERA while holding opponents to a .155 average. His record in those games is 3-0.
He’s been particularly effective this year at Kauffman Stadium, posting a 1.73 ERA at home. That’s by far the best home mark by any American League pitcher. He’s 9-3 with four no-decisions in 16 starts at Kauffman.
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.
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
A reader wanted to know how in the how Zack Greinke was charged with two runs in the eighth inning on Thursday night at Cleveland. He thought the second run should have been charged to John Bale.
Here’s what happened: With one out, Mark DeRosa singled and Victor Martinez walked. At that point, Greinke was relieved by Bale. Shin-Soo Choo hit a possible double-play ball to first baseman Billy Butler, who threw to second for the force. But shortstop Tony Pena Jr.’s return throw got past Bale covering for an error, DeRosa scoring. On that play, second baseman Alberto Callaspo, after chasing down the ball, threw poorly to home for another error that let Choo take second. Then Joakim Soria relieved Bale and Jhonny Peralta blasted a double off the top of the left-field wall, Choo scoring.
Greinke is charged with both runs because he put the first two runners on base. And even though Martinez was retired on Choo’s fielder’s choice, the fact that there was a runner on at all still reverts to Zack. It might be a bit unfair but that’s the way it is.
Even though DeRosa scored on Pena’s throwing error, that came on a double play attempt in which you cannot assume the second out which would have ended the inning. So the scorer ruled that DeRosa would have scored along with Choo on Peralta’s double, hence both runs were earned and charged to Zack.
In the case of the second run charged to Zack, I suppose the scorer could have ruled that Choo would not have reached second base except for Callaspo’s error and therefore would not have scored on Peralta’s double. However, there were two outs when the double was hit so Choo would have been running all the way if he were still at first base and the ball hit high off the wall anyway so he’d probably have scored from first regardless.