With rosters expanding to 40 players as teams enter the stretch run of the 2014 season, the Kansas City Royals made a slew of roster moves on Monday in attempt to bolster depth with specialists from the organizations’ minor league ranks.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of the September call-ups was the team’s most recent first round selection, left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan. The TCU product made 13 appearances between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, logging 27.0 innings of work and allowing just just four earned runs (1.33 ERA), while striking out 26 batters and walking four. With regard to Finnegan’s role with the Royals, manager Ned Yost said he’s simply taking things one day at a time.
“We’re going to ease him in his first time or two and see how he does,” said Yost. “All the reports that we got are that this kid can help us. Do I have a plan for how I’m going to use him? No. I’m just going to kind of just do it as we go.”
Yost said that after evaluating pitchers within the organization, Finnegan emerged as a player that could have an impact in the pennant race.
“He’s got good stuff. He’s real competitive and he throws strikes. You know, you go into the last month and, at least from my stand point, you’re always looking to go with the hot hand… We’re looking at all available options up here. When we break it down and look at it, he was one of the best options we had. We’re looking for good arms. We’re looking for guys that we feel can compete up here. He filled all of the prerequisites.”
As for the rest of the teams’ additions, Yost said that each player fits a specific role.
“They all kind of fit a role,” he said. “Lane Adams, we brought him up primarily to pinch run. We’ve got guys in the middle of our order that aren’t real fleet of foot. Lane’s (Lane Adams) a real good defender in the outfield. [Francisco] Pena gives us the option, if we pinch run with Sal, we’re not stuck if something happens to Kratz. It’s just depth. Johnny Giavotella gives us the ability to mix and match. [Carlos] Peguero gives us power. He hit 30 home runs in the minor leagues and he was hot right there at the end and we’re in need of offense. We’re looking at it day to day, and, actually, pitch to pitch.”
Yost will get Peguero involved immediately, plugging the left-handed hitting 27-year-old into the starting lineup this evening.
“You look at Colby Lewis’ numbers and there’s like a 70 point difference between right and left-handed hitters, so we wanted to try to get as many left handed hitters as we could in there,” said Yost. “We sorely need some offense. We’re just looking for a way to score some runs.”
By Kolby Paxton
One day after a 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position night for the Royals, manager Ned Yost said “It wasn’t a fun night.” The team left a season-high 16 runners in scoring position and fell into a tie with the Detroit Tigers atop the AL Central standings. Yost said last night had a lot to do with the approach by Kansas City hitters.
“When you break down last night’s game it was really two games that you look at,” Yost said. “We took nine walks to create 18 run-scoring possibilities but we couldn’t create any runs because our approach changed from the time nobody was on base to when we had runners in scoring position. It’s getting them to understand everyone needs a plan. If James Shields went out to the mound yesterday and said ‘hey, I’m just going to throw the ball and see what happens’ that ain’t going to work. Same thing goes for the offense.”
After 35,000+ filled Kauffman Stadium Saturday night, a sell-out will greet the Royals as they take the field for their first home ESPN Sunday Night Baseball appearance in over a decade. Yost said the large crowds has hit hitters trying to do too much.
“The crowds that have been here have been dynamic, just dying to get into the game. I think our guys are dying to get them in the game. When that happens sometimes you push a little bit and we just need to make sure that we stay focused and we’ll get them in the game.”
First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. on ESPN2.
By Nate Rowan
In case you missed it…we had a special guest on Retro Night. Barry Williams, known worldwide for playing Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch, was on hand.
A contestant was participating in a promotion called “Miller Lite Six Pack of Facts” where she received six clues about a person, then had to name the person. She said “Barry Williams” and to her surprise, Barry Williams was standing next to her!
Williams went on to lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. If you missed him at “The K”, you can catch his show in nearby Branson, Mo.
Eric Hosmer began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha this afternoon and he finished the day with two RBI, including the game-winning single in the ninth.
Manager Ned Yost expects Hosmer to get 15 to 20 at-bats before being activated from the disabled list.
“Just get his eye back a little bit,” Yost said. “We just want to get some game-type at-bats under his belt so that when he gets back up here he’s ready to go.”
In other injury-related news, Omar Infante tested his sore right shoulder this afternoon before the game and will start at second base while batting second. Omar has not played since Monday and has missed four games.
Standing room seats still remain for the Kansas City Royals’ game against the Cleveland Indians tomorrow night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2 as part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Remaining standing-room seats are available for $15.00 at http://www.royals.com/tickets. Royals Fans are encouraged to “Bring Your Blue” and fill Kauffman Stadium with a sea of Royal blue to show team pride to the national viewing audience. Fans are also urged to arrive early in order to reduce traffic congestion at Kauffman Stadium.
In light of the excitement surrounding the team’s recent success, the Royals are also offering special ticket deals for fans to come out to the ballpark on Monday, September 1 and Tuesday, September 2 as the Royals take on the Texas Rangers. Hy-Vee Infield seats for Monday and Tuesday, both 7:10 p.m. starts, are priced at just $5. In addition, the Royals are selling Field Plaza tickets for Tuesday’s game for just $10. Fans may take advantage of these deals by visiting http://www.royals.com/dynamicdeals. The Royals will finish the current 10-game homestand with a 7:10 p.m. game against the Rangers on Wednesday, September 3.
Royals lefty Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.47 ERA) will get the start for the Royals on tomorrow night against Cleveland left-hander T.J. House (2-3, 4.18 ERA). Sunday’s game is also a Family FunDay Sunday. The pregame festivities include live entertainment by School of Rock, plus face painters, caricature or balloon artists and more. Fans also have the opportunity to get pregame autographs with select players from 5:45-6:05 p.m. and can meet select former players in the Royals Hall of Fame from 5:15 p.m. until game time.
Nebraska born, Nebraska raised and educated at the University of Nebraska…Lincoln native Alex Gordon has a popularity rating that is off the charts among Royals fans in The Cornhusker State. And as of Thursday night, he has the most home runs of any Major League player born in the state. Yes, the odd stat of 2014…Gordon leads all Nebraskans with 119 home runs, topping Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, who was born in Omaha and raised in Florida. Congrats to Alex!
The Kansas City Royals announced prior to tonight’s game with the Cleveland Indians that left-hander Bruce Chen was designated for assignment. Louis Coleman was recalled from Triple-A Omaha. The Royals now have 39 players on their 40-man roster and will need to add Jayson Nix at some point. Nix was claimed off waivers yesterday.
Manager Ned Yost said the conversation with Bruce was hard but added that the long relief role he had been in didn’t suit him well and that he was fit to be a starter.
“He’s been here a long time,” Yost said. “His presence on the field as well as off the field has been big for all of us. He was always there to uplift you. He’s a guy that everybody looked to to lighten the mood in all situations. He’s going to be missed. Great guy.”
Christian Colon will start again at second base in place of Omar Infante, who will miss his fourth straight game with right-shoulder soreness.
The Royals rallied with six runs in the eighth last night, winning 6-1!
7.0 shutout innings by Liam Hendriks in his Royals debut.
An awesome catch by Alex Gordon as he went up against the chain-link fence.
Pinch runner Lorenzo Cain stole second and later scored the tying run on Jarrod Dyson’s bunt single.
Nori Aoki drove in the go-ahead run…and Liam Hendriks received Gatorade bucket after the game.
On the heels of an extremely effective performance by Liam Hendriks, the Royals will turn to veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie as the club takes aim at a series sweep over the visiting Twins. Tonight’s start comes on the 10th anniversary of Guthrie’s Major League debut.
With Guthrie closing in on 200 innings of work for what will be the fifth such season of his career, manager Ned Yost said that Guthrie’s reliability has been anything but a surprise.
“He’s done that his whole career,” said Yost. “He’s been a very durable guy. He keeps himself in great shape in between starts. He’s a guy that commands the ball and he’s a guy that we feel like we have a chance to win every time he steps on the mound.”
The overnight transition from Hendriks to Guthrie serves as a microcosm of a starting rotation that has, by Yost’s account, been remarkably eclectic this season.
“Shields, Vargas, Guthrie, they’re experienced guys,” said Yost. “They know how to use a real solid defense behind them. Duffy and Ventura are learning that also. You’ve got power in the young guys and you’ve got great command and competitiveness out of the veteran guys. It’s a great mix and you are getting different looks every day.
According to Yost, injured first baseman Eric Hosmer is recovering well from a broken bone in his wrist. Yost said that Hosmer could begin his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend.
“He’s going to take BP today,” Yost said. “He went and hit in the cage. Took two rounds of soft toss, two rounds of live BP, felt great. He’ll come out and hit in a group here today, and we’ll just go day to day with him.
“If he can get a couple of days of BP under his belt, it could be as early as Saturday or Sunday that he could go out on a rehab and start that process. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed and we’ll see how it goes.”
By Kolby Paxton
Kansas City will look to take yet another series this evening when the team, hotter than any in baseball, takes the field for game two of a three-game set in its final series of the season vs. Minnesota.
The Royals will do so without the services of Yordano Ventura, who has been scratched from tonight’s start and replaced by Liam Hendriks due to mid-back soreness. In order to make room for Hendriks, the Royals were forced to option reliever Aaron Crow to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
“He’s got options,” said manager Ned Yost of why the club elected to move Crow to the Naturals. “We just have so few guys right now that have options, one. And we can get him back in six days. We needed a spot for Hendriks so we could skip Yordano and that’s what we came up with.”
Yost does not expect the absence of Crow to negatively impact the Kansas City bullpen for the time being.
“I think we’re okay,” he said. “Everyone is well rested down there. Frasor’s been rested. Bueno’s rested. We’ve got Bruce. Of course, we’ve got Kelvin and Wade and Holly. After today, we’re back with Vargy and Shields, and guys that generally go deep into the game to get us to September 1, and we should be fine.”
According to Yost, Crow will throw two innings tomorrow, take a couple of days off, throw an inning on Sunday, and return to the team on Tuesday.
“You don’t really want to do it, but we did it with Wade Davis last year at the end of the year,” he said. “It’s something that you just have to do. Luckily for us, it’s not a deal where we miss him for 10 days. He’ll be back in six days and right back in the thick of it.”
Following last night’s game in front of 13,847 fans, Yost fell under criticism for comments he made about the importance of having fans turn out for the team’s remaining home games. This afternoon, Yost clarified those statements.
“What I said last night, I think, was pretty self-explanatory,” he said. “The reason I do this job, there’s two reasons. One, is I’ve been to the World Series six times. I know that feeling. I know the excitement that goes along with it. One of my main things is I want these players to experience that. Because it’s very, very important. The chance to be able to do it is so far and few between. I want them to experience that. And the other thing is, I want our fans to experience that. It’s a special time. It’s been a long time since our fans have been able to enjoy a playoff run.
“To be able to win the division is one of the toughest things to do in sports and you don’t know when this opportunity is going to come again. For me, I just think it is extremely important that our fans get the opportunity to come out and enjoy this with us. As a manager, you want every advantage you can get. When our fans are here and they’re rooting, it’s a special feeling. The excitement and electricity that they bring to the stadium is a definite advantage for us.
Yost said that he gets considerable enjoyment out of fan participation and, again, alluded to the impact that fans have on the team.
“When you look up at the scoreboard in between innings and you see little kids jumping up and down wearing their Royals caps and their Royals jerseys, I get a thrill out of that. I get a thrill when we win the ballgame and we walk off the field and see our fans going nuts. I get a thrill out of that and I want our fans to enjoy that. I want our fans to be proud of what we’re doing. Anyone that thinks I said something negative or was criticizing the fans last night, they’re dead wrong. I just want them to be a big part of this with us, because, in reality, they are.”
Yost said that the team hopes to give Royals fans a September and October to remember.
“If we can do what we’re hoping to do, they’re going to remember it. These kids that are here jumping up and down, the ones I’m talking about being up on the Jumbotron, they’re going to remember this for the rest of their lives.
“I know this, when the place is filled, it definitely has an effect. When our fans are out there and they’re screaming and they’re yelling, that energy that’s provided that’s coming onto the field, it’s electric, I mean, it’s a buzz that you feel internally, and it does give you a bit of a boost. It’s a special, special feeling. It is an advantage to have them here.”
By Kolby Paxton