Ned Yost media session: September 17, 2014

The Royals will look to keep pace in the pennant race by taking the rubber match of a three-game set with Chicago this evening.

The hosts will have to go through Chris Sale and his 1.99 ERA in order to do so, of course, but manager Ned Yost found a silver lining to the task of competing with Sale.

“He throws a lot of strikes,” Yost said. “And that’s good for us because we swing at a lot of balls. But he’s got really good stuff. You know you’re going to have your hands full. You just have to battle it out. You hope you can score a couple of runs and your pitching and defense can keep you in the game and get to the bullpen.”

Amid Kansas City’s lineup of free-swingers is All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. Perez, who has carried the offense at times this season, finds himself mired in a 5-for-45 (.111) slump since Sept. 6. He’s struck out a dozen times and walked just once over that span.

“He’s trying too hard,” said Yost. “He’s up there trying to make something happen. And you can’t go up there and make something happen on the first pitch or two. You’ve got to kind of catch your breath, step back a little bit, and let the at-bat come to you instead of trying to take the first pitch, no matter where it is, and drive it into the gap. You’ve got to get up there and be a little bit more selective.”

The absence of free-passes doesn’t alarm Yost, but the Royals’ skipper is concerned about pitch selection.

“Salvy’s never been a guy that’s gonna take a lot of pitches,” he said. “He’s always been a guy that puts the ball in play, and swings the bat, and he’s always a dangerous guy. But there’s been some instances here, lately, where he’s swinging at balls that never were strikes – that didn’t leave the pitchers hand a strike.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, offensively, is Nori Aoki, who is enjoying his hottest homestand of the season against an opponent that he has dominated. Aoki went 4-for-5 last night, his second consecutive four-hit game, and now has 12 hits over his last 24 at-bats.

“Nori’s gotten hot,” said Yost. “We needed that. We need some guys getting hot and creating some scoring opportunities, and Nori’s been driving in runs and he’s been doing it all for us. Earlier in the year, when Nori was leading off, it was uncanny, every time he was on base he’d find a way to score. We hope that we can keep that trend up. Back-to-back four hit nights have been big. We need to mix in a few more guys getting hot like him and we’ll be in great shape.”

The Royals will enjoy a day off tomorrow before hosting Detroit in a pivotal three-game series beginning on Friday. Yost will use the off-day to celebrate his father-in-law’s birthday – sort of.

“My wife called me yesterday and said that she was coming into town today, and I thought she was coming in Friday, so I was thinking, okay, I get the whole off day to myself, you know?”

When asked if he was aware of the reason for the Missus’ early arrival, Yost was reminded of at least one significant aspect associated with Sept. 17.

“She says, tomorrow’s my father’s birthday. Today, right? Well we got married on her father’s birthday 37 years ago, and I absolutely forgot my wedding anniversary. So we’re going to go have a nice dinner… and take a trip to Bass Pro Shop and see if they’ve got any new fishing lures or any new bow sights.

“I should’ve never got married in September because the baseball season’s going on,” Yost quipped. “And she doesn’t even get mad anymore. She just takes it as a given that I’m going to forget it.”

As for a peace offering? Yost knows just the thing.

“I’ll buy her a fishing pole,” he said. “She likes to fish.”

By Kolby Paxton

ICYMI: Monday’s walk-off (or sprint-off)

The Royals rallied for a 4-3 win on Monday, with pinch runners Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore sprinting home to score the tying and winning runs, respectively.  Lorenzo Cain had the winning hit.

Royals vs White Sox

Royals vs White Sox

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Ned Yost media session: September 16, 2014

In what amounted to a seemingly perfect illustration of what it is, exactly, that “speed do,” the Royals ran past Chicago in a dramatic ninth inning, come-from-behind victory on Monday, and the club will look to carry that magic into the second game of the three-game set this evening.

“What we saw last night, you don’t see,” said manager Ned Yost. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, where you tie a ballgame and win a ballgame in the ninth inning on two balls that didn’t even leave the infield. It was unique. It was fun. It was exciting… but today is a different day.”

Yost asserted that, while the events of last night may well have been fit for the silver screen, the comeback victory neither changed, nor affirmed the teams’ confidence and/or approach moving forward.

“These guys fight every day,” he said. “They don’t need validation after a game like that, ‘Boy we can come back.’ They’ve been doing it all year long.”

Liam Hendriks will be on the hill for the Royals tonight, making his second start in place of Danny Duffy and his fourth appearance for Kansas City overall. After tossing a gem in his first start with the club, Hendriks has run into some trouble of late, taking back-to-back losses, including Sept. 11 vs. Boston, when the right-hander exited after just 2.1 innings of work.

“The first inning or two he was okay,” said Yost. “In the third inning, he hung a curve ball and then just tried to be too quick in his delivery to the plate. And that got his tempo off, got his rhythm off. Just stay within yourself, use the strike zone, throw strikes, and let your defense work for you.”

As for Duffy, Yost said that his simulated game went according to plan on Tuesday. The lefty is scheduled to make his next start against the Indians on Monday.

“His stuff was really, really good,” he said. “Threw some good curve balls, threw some really good change ups. Had regular life on his fastball, just a little erratic with his command, which is to be expected.”

Yost announced on Tuesday that he plans to shake up the pitching rotation slightly when the Royals face-off with Detroit this weekend.

“After the off-day, we want to keep Shields and Vargas on regular rest,” he said. “We’re going to slide Guthrie back to the Sunday game. That enables us to have our two left-handers pitch in Cleveland, Duffy, Ventura, and Vargas, and then lines us up for the Chicago series.”

 By Kolby Paxton

Ned Yost media session: September 15, 2014

After dropping three of four to Boston and falling 1.5 games out of first place in the American League Central, the Royals will look to string victories together during a three-game set with the visiting Chicago White Sox. They will have to do so without contribution from Danny Duffy, however, who will be scratched once more in favor of Liam Hendriks on Tuesday.

“We’ve decided we’re going to throw him a four-inning simulated game and start Hendriks,” said manager Ned Yost. “What that does is just make sure that Danny is both mentally and physically ready for his next start. He threw twice playing catch. He threw one bullpen session where he threw 20 pitches and he turned the last four or five pitches loose. He had pretty good velocity on his fastball. He was rusty with his slider. So we’ll go ahead and throw him a four-inning simmed game, around 50 pitches, and have him ready for his next start.”

While a great deal of uncertainty surrounds Duffy’s shoulder tightness and his ongoing recovery, Yost said that the one constant has been the absence of pain or stiffness of late.

“The only thing that we do know is that he feels good,” he said. “He’ll go first game in Cleveland.”

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the final game of a four-game series with Boston, the Kansas City bullpen faltered down the stretch, allowing the Red Sox to take command of the game during the sixth and seventh innings. Following the game, Yost was the object of criticism for his choice of relievers.

“This is a recipe that we’ve used all year long to a great degree of success,” said Yost. “You know that these guys aren’t going to be perfect and they are going to have bumps in the road. But, again, we’ve used this recipe all year long very successfully. Yesterday it didn’t work. Things like that happen.”

Yost conceded that he will be more likely to use Herrera and/or Davis for multiple innings of work for the remainder of the season.

“[Herrera] has gone multiple innings five times (this season),” he said. “Wade hasn’t done it at all. But he’s ready to do it. Everything is do or die. Yesterday was do or die. But I had confidence that Crow was going to come in and get us through the inning. It was a perfect matchup, Cespedes with Crow’s slider, but he ended up walking him. We needed a strikeout. He got it with Craig. But then just pulled a pitch the next time and a guy with three home runs all year hit his fourth. It’s just one of those things.”

Billy Butler returns to his customary designated hitter role this evening after a noticeable absence from the starting lineup of late.

“It’s do or die the last 14 days,” said Yost. “You’re going to put the hottest guys that you’ve got in your lineup to try to create some offense. The last two days have been better, but up until then, we’d struggled offensively a little bit. You want to try to make sure that you get the guys that are the hottest into that lineup every single day. Hopefully Billy goes out and has some good at-bats and gets some hits and we can move forward.”

Ned Yost media session: September 12, 2014

Brandon Finnegan has had an impressive start to his career by retiring the first eight batters he has faced, seven of which have been All-Stars at one point in their careers. The lefty from TCU, who is the only player from the 2014 draft class to appear in a Major League game, could be a big factor in the Royals bullpen down the stretch.

“We are starting to like him a little bit more,” manager Ned Yost said. “We know his stuff is really, really good. We’ll continue to look for spots to put him in.”

Injured closer Greg Holland has not appeared in a game for over a week but appears ready to pitch again. Yost said what they will probably do is put Holland in a low-leverage situation after missing more than a week. “If he feels god after that, right back to the closer’s spot,” Yost said.

Yost was asked about the struggling offense in September and said he doesn’t know why it happens but his club does everything together.

“When they’re swinging, they’re all swinging,” Yost added. “When they’re slumping, they’re all slumping. It just takes one big hit to get the train rolling again. You know you can get that hit at any time and get back on track.”

Ned Yost media session: September 11, 2014

Ned Yost provided injury updates on Danny Duffy and Greg Holland during today’s pregame media session. Duffy will see the doctor today and that visit will determine when Danny can play catch again, but Yost added “[Danny]’s feeling better.”

As for the All-Star, Holland has been dealing with some triceps tightness in his right arm and has not pitched since September 3.  Ned said that Greg could be ready to go tonight, depending on how he felt during pregame warmups.

“Two days he felt much, much better,” Yost said. “He didn’t feel any tightness on his fastball and just a tinge of it on his slider. Yesterday he didn’t feel it at all. My mindset was to take him to where he felt good, didn’t feel anything, and then give him another day.”

In Holland’s absence, Wade Davis has assumed the closer’s role and notched saves in the three victories during the last road trip.

Royals announce time change for September 20 game

Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals announced today that the Saturday, September 20 game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium has been moved from 6:10 p.m. to 12:05 p.m. CT to accommodate FOX and its Saturday baseball package. The game will be televised exclusively on the FOX Network.

The September 20 game will remain Fan Appreciation Day with prize giveaways throughout the afternoon to thank fans for their tremendous support this season. The first 10,000 fans will receive a Royals Scarf, courtesy of Academy Sports and Outdoors. In addition, Royals Charities will host Shirts Off Their Backs, a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City that gives fans the opportunity to win an autographed jersey from a Royals player or coach.
Gates will open at 10:30 a.m. for the 12:05 p.m. CT game.

Royals announce 2015 regular season schedule

In conjunction with Major League Baseball, the Kansas City Royals announced their 2015 regular season schedule today.  The Royals will open the season on Monday, April 6 vs. the Chicago White Sox.  Game times will be announced at a later date.

The Royals will play 20 Interleague contests over eight series, four at home and four on the road.  Kansas City will face I-70 rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, in a three-game weekend series at home from May 22-24, with a three-game visit to Busch Stadium from June 12-14.  The home Interleague schedule also includes visits from the Cincinnati Reds (May 19-20), Milwaukee Brewers (June 17-18) and Pittsburgh Pirates (July 20-22).  The Royals swept three-game series in the last home meetings against Cincinnati (2009), Milwaukee (2012) and Pittsburgh (2006).  KC’s road Interleague schedule includes trips to Chicago (May 29-31), Milwaukee (June 15-16) and Cincinnati (August 18-19).  The series at Wrigley Field will be the first for Kansas City since 2001.

The Royals will have three holiday home games in 2015, hosting the Boston Red Sox on Father’s Day (June 21) and the Minnesota Twins on both July 4 and Labor Day (September 7).  The club will be in Detroit on Mother’s Day (May 10) and in New York on Memorial Day (May 25).

The Royals’ month-by-month home game totals are: April – 10; May – 14; June – 11; July – 17; August – 14; September – 15.  KC will enter the All-Star Break after a season-high 11-game homestand from July 2-12.  The club has two 10-game trips, July 27-August 6 with stops in Cleveland, Toronto and Detroit, as well as September 11-20 at Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit.

Here’s a link to the April 2015 schedule:  http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/schedule/?c_id=kc#y=2015&m=4&calendar=DEFAULT

Royals on FSKC: Dish channel numbers for September 8-14

The Royals kick off a big three-game series at Detroit today!  Please note that it is a 3:08 start time (the original schedule had this as an evening game…it was switched due to Monday Night Football in Detroit).  Here are your Dish channel numbers for the week:

Monday, September 8: Dish 440 or 412-28
Tuesday, September 9: Dish 441 or 412-29
Wednesday, September 10: Dish 441 or 412-29
Thursday, September 11: Dish 441 or 412-29
Friday, September 12:  Dish 442 or 412-30
Saturday, September 13: Dish 446 or 412-34
Sunday, September 14: Dish 441 or 412-29

Royals name Pitchers, Players of the Year for minor league affiliates

The Royals have named their Minor League Pitchers and Players of the Year for their respective affiliates.

All of the players will be at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, September 19 for Futures Night, where they will take part in an autograph session at Gate A from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., as well as be honored in an on-field presentation prior to the Royals game with the Detroit Tigers.

OMAHA (AAA)
Aaron BrooksAaron Brooks has been named the Omaha Pitcher of the Year. The 25-year-old right-hander went 12-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) during the regular season for the Storm Chasers. His 12 victories were tied for second-most in the Pacific Coast League this year, while he also ranked seventh in ERA and sixth in WHIP (1.27). Brooks tossed eight scoreless innings last night, allowing just five hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts as Omaha won their playoff opener, 7-0 over Memphis. He also earned Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year honors in 2013. The Royals’ ninth-round selection in the 2011 First Year Player Draft, Brooks made his Major League debut on May 3 vs. Detroit.
Outfielder Whit Merrifield was named the Omaha Player of the Year. The 25-year-old opened the year with Northwest Arkansas (AA), before emerging with the Storm Chasers. He hit .340 (109-for-321) in 76 games with the Chasers, collecting 28 doubles, three triples and three homers with 57 runs scored and 29 RBI. His 41 doubles combined between the two levels tied for sixth-most among all minor leaguers. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored in last night’s playoff opener. Merrifield was selected to participate in the Texas League All-Star Game this season, but did not play due to his promotion to Omaha. The 2012 Wilmington Player of the Year, Merrifield was KC’s ninth-round selection in the 2010 Draft.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (AA)
Andy Ferguson, 26, has been named the Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year. The 6-foot right-hander went 11-10 with a 2.93 ERA in 25 appearances (23 starts) for the Naturals this season, recording 118 strikeouts to rank sixth in the Texas League. His ERA also was the fifth-best in the league among qualifying pitchers. Ferguson closed the season with two starts for Omaha, helping them clinch a playoff berth. He was the Royals 18th-round pick in the 2011 June Free Agent Draft out of Arkansas State University.
Outfielder Lane Adams, 24, was named the Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year. He hit .269 with 25 doubles, three triples and 11 homers in 105 games for the Naturals. Adams ranked third in the Texas League with 38 stolen bases, while his 65 runs scored tied for sixth in the league. He was tabbed a mid-season and postseason All-Star in the Texas League this season and earned the league’s Player of the Month honors for June. Adams was named the George Brett Hitter of the Year and Wilmington Player of the Year in 2013. He was selected by KC in the 13th round of the 2009 Draft, and made his Major League debut September 1 vs. Texas.

WILMINGTON (A-Advanced)
Glenn Sparkman, 22, was named Wilmington Pitcher of the Year. He went 8-3 with the top ERA (1.56) in the Carolina League, allowing just 21 earned runs in 121.0 innings, which spanned 29 outings (18 starts). He recorded an 0.98 WHIP, which ranked second in the league, while he was seventh with 117 strikeouts. Sparkman was named Carolina League Player of the Year on August 28. The right-hander was selected in the 20th round of the 2013 June Free Agent Draft.
Third baseman Hunter Dozier, 23, has been tabbed Wilmington Player of the Year. Dozier, KC’s first-round pick in 2013, split the season between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas. He hit .295 (66-for-224) with 18 doubles, four homers and 39 RBI in 66 games for the Blue Rocks, before finishing the year in Double-A. He was selected as the Carolina League Player of the Week on May 26, hitting .550 (11-for-20) with four doubles, four RBI and eight runs scored over the previous week. He hit .209 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI in 64 games for the Naturals. Dozier previously won Idaho Falls Player of the Year honors in 2013.

LEXINGTON (A)
Jake Junis, 21, was selected as the Lexington Pitcher of the Year. He posted a 9-8 mark with a 4.30 ERA in his first season with the Legends, making a career-high 22 starts and 26 appearances. He collected 109 strikeouts in 136.0 innings to rank 13th in the South Atlantic League, while his 1.28 WHIP was the 10th-lowest in the league. He was selected by the Royals in the 29th round of the 2011 June Free Agent Draft.
Catcher/first baseman Frank Schwindel, 22, has earned Lexington Player of the Year honors. The right-handed hitter finished the year with Wilmington, but hit .286 with 29 doubles, two triples and 20 homers for the Legends. His 20 homers ranked fourth in the South Atlantic League, while his .515 slugging percentage was third-highest among qualifying hitters. He was named a mid-season All-Star in the SAL and was tabbed the league’s Player of the Week on June 2. Schwindel was selected by Kansas City in the 18th round of the 2013 June First Year Player Draft.

IDAHO FALLS (Rookie-Advanced)
Torey Deshazier, 20, earned Idaho Falls Pitcher of the Year honors. He went 5-3 this year with a 3.17 ERA, making six starts for the Chukars and 13 appearances through September 3. The young right-hander fanned 66 in 65.1 innings this year, tying him for fifth in the Pioneer League. He was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on June 8, 2012 after pitching collegiately at Arkansas Baptist College.
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn, 21, was tabbed the Idaho Falls Player of the Year. The left-handed hitter batted .361 with 16 doubles, a triple, 13 homers and 54 RBI, to go along with a league-best 61 runs scored through September 3. The Pioneer League All-Star first baseman homered in his first at-bat and went 5-for-5 in his professional debut on June 22. He is leading the league with a .590 slugging percentage and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player on August 30. O’Hearn was KC’s eighth-round selection this season out of Sam Houston State University.

BURLINGTON (Rookie)
Nik Stephenson was named Burlington Pitcher of the Year. The 20-year-old pitched at both Burlington and Lexington this season, going 3-3 with a 2.14 ERA and a .205 opponents’ batting average in 32 appearances (eight starts) for the Rookie Burlington Royals. His ERA and WHIP totals ranked second among qualifying hurlers in the Appalachian League, while he was 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA in two starts for the Legends. Stephenson was signed by Kansas City as a non-drafted free agent on July 6, 2012.
Outfielder Logan Moon has been tabbed Burlington Player of the Year in his first season of professional baseball. Moon, who was drafted by KC in the sixth round of this year’s draft, collected 10 doubles, five triples, two homers and 24 RBI in 59 games. He won the Appalachian League batting crown, hitting .332, including .361 (39-for-108) in July and .333 in August (30-for-90). The Blue Springs, Mo., native also swiped 16 bases in 18 attempts this season.

DOMINICAN ROYALS (DSL)
Yimaury Pena, 20, was named the Dominican Royals Pitcher of the Year. Pena went 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 14 outings (12 starts) to go with a 1.11 WHIP. He allowed just 10 walks and struck out 55 batters in 67.1 innings.
Catcher Meibrys Viloria earned Dominican Royals Player of the Year honors. The 17-year-old hit .306 (34-for-111) with eight doubles, a triple and two homers in 33 games in the Dominican. He collected 20 RBI and recorded a .383 on-base percentage, drawing 14 walks.

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