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 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
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
Trey Hillman said he’d mix Luis Hernandez into the shortstop picture while Mike Aviles recovers from his aching right forearm. Sure enough, there was Hernandez in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Tigers instead of Willie Bloomquist.
After Bloomquist hustled to a crucial double on Sunday against the Cardinals, Hillman had him back in the lineup against a tough right-hander, Justin Verlander, on Monday.
“I was hoping he could play on that momentum a little bit against a very good right-handed pitcher. It didn’t work out way,” Hillman said.
Bloomquist struck out both times against Verlander and fanned a third time against Zach Miner. Bloomquist is batting .349 against left-handers but just .244 against right-handers. So Hillman went with Hernandez, a switch-hitter, against righty Edwin Jackson.
“I’d like to see Hernandez a little bit more. There’s less than 200 Major League at-bats to get a numbers read on him. We like the way he can manipulate the bat a little bit as far as bat control and we’ll see how he does,” Hillman said.
Hernandez, who started last season as the Orioles’ regular shortstop but then lost the job, is regarded as an excellent fielder.
“Tremendous, he’s got great hands, knows where to be. Good baseball player. Doesn’t panic,” Hillman said.
Since coming up from Omaha, Hernandez had just eight at-bats with one hit before this start.