May 2007

Reaching Out to Greensburg, Kan.

By now, you probably have all heard about the community of Greensburg, Kan., the town that was left in ruins after a mile-wide tornado touched down this past Friday. A quick look at Mapquest shows that Greensburg is a good five-hour drive southwest of Kansas City. But, we all know distance doesn’t really matter at times like this and what happened to the community of Greensburg happened a little too close to home.

At Kauffman Stadium, prior to and during our evening game against Oakland on Wednesday and our afternoon match up with the A’s on Thursday, we will be joining locally based Heart to Heart International to collect cash donations for the victims of the Greensburg tornado. Volunteers will be just inside each of the gates at The K, and entering fans can do their parts with cash or check donations. (NOTE: Make checks payable to Heart to Heart International.)

In case you don’t know, Heart to Heart International, based in Olathe, Kan., organizes global relief efforts and has already committed to spending four weeks in the Greensburg area. They have already started collecting for the Greensburg relief effort. Learn more about this organization at www.hearttoheart.org.

So, if you make it out to Kauffman these next two games, consider maybe skipping a hot dog or passing on an extra cold beverage and join us in helping a neighboring community get back on its feet.

“You can’t catch a walk.”

In his Major League debut in 1975, right-hander Mike Norris threw a complete-game shutout to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Quite a start to a Major League career, right?

Norris shared that memory, along with a few others, at the first Legends Luncheon of the year, which a handful of us from the front office had the honor of attending this afternoon. The former Oakland pitcher went on to pitch 52 complete games in his 10-year career, including 24 in 1980 when he posted a 22-9 record. Impressive stats….

We haven’t seen a complete game from a Royals starter this season, but they have tossed six or more innings in 20 of our 32 games. It’s a work in progress.

One pitcher in particular that is making a dent in the innings category is tonight’s starter, Jorge De La Rosa. The left-hander (3-2, 3.38 ERA) has tossed six or more innings in five of his six starts and is averaging nearly seven innings per start this season. That’s an improvement from last season when he averaged less than five innings with the Royals. Along with that, let’s not forget DLR has been great at Kauffman this season, posting an A.L. best 0.82 ERA at home. Plus – a DLR note from the game notes – he has walked only 1.6 batters per nine innings, which is good for fourth best in the A.L.

Alright, enough fun Jorge facts – here are your lineups…

For the Royals:
DeJesus – CF
Grudzielanek – 2B
Teahen – RF
Sweeney – DH
Gload – 1B
Butler – LF
Gordon – 3B
Pena – SS
LaRue – C
De La Rosa – P

For the A’s:
Stewart – LF
Ellis – 2B
Chavez – 3B
Swisher – RF
Johnson – 1B
Crosby – SS
Cust – DH
Kendall – C
Snelling – CF
Gaudin – P

Off Day Notes from Kauffman Stadium

Dsc_8784Let’s all agree that this weekend, on the field, we didn’t really see the results we were looking for, right? Getting swept at home by the Detroit Tigers – even if they are being labeled the best team in the A.L. – is hard to swallow. The Tigers are now 14-1 at Kauffman Stadium since the start of last season and the Royals only have one more chance to improve that record this season with a three-game set at home against Detroit at the end of August. Since today’s a much-needed off day, we’re catching up in the office. Here’s some briefs from the homestand, both on and off the field.

APRIL SHOWERS BRING…MORE SHOWERS IN MAY: It was on-again, off-again rain all week at Kauffman Stadium. Even with the showers…and the lightning…and the thunder, we managed to still get every game in. But, keep the rain gear handy for the final three games of the homestand against Oakland – the weather is not supposed to be much better.

STREAKS ARE GROWING: Dsc_8894As a whole, the team is batting just .250 this season. But, we should look at that stat as one that is on the verge of rising. Three every-day players have compiled notable hitting streaks recently and then there is the recent offensive surge of Ross Gload. Through the first seven games of this homestand, Ross is batting .455 (10-for-22). Tony Pena and Mark Teahen each have seven-game hit streaks going with Pena batting .333 (8-for-24) during his career-best streak and Teahen producing a .333 average (9-for-27) in his. Mark Grudzielanek has hit in a season-high eight straight games, batting .353 and going 12-for-34 in those games.

CUDDLE CRAZY:  Many young Royals fans took advantage of our second Build-A-Bear Workshop Day, collecting a cuddly Koala when they entered the stadium Sunday afternoon. The third and final Build-A-Bear Workshop Day is July 8 – the “Hot Dog Derby Racer.” So, you have some time to decide if you are a mustard, ketchup or relish.

BUCK BUZZES AT BEE: Before stepping in as a Celebrity Speller for the Sunday performance of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Royals catcher John Buck showed some signs of nervousness in the clubhouse Sunday afternoon and did not hesitate in pumping Senior Director of Publicity Lora Grosshans, who went to the Saturday matinee performance, for some information. Lora came through with a little “cheat sheet” of words for Buck. Well, even though the words were different, Buck did pretty well, outlasting the other Celebrity Spellers during the performance. Good thing, too, since teammate Ryan Shealy was in the audience and an early D20_2283first-round exit would have been brutal to deal with Tuesday in the clubhouse.

INDOOR SIGNINGS…AGAIN: Another Autograph Afternoon at the ballpark was altered because of weather Sunday. As the rain came down outside, we had to move the players – Ryan Shealy, Neal Musser, Joakim Soria and Jimmy Gobble – inside to the Level Two concourse. It’s the third time already this season that poor weather has interfered with the fan-favorite event. Thanks to all the patient fans that showed up despite the conditions. Let’s start knocking on wood now that the sun cooperates for the next Autograph Afternoon on June 10.D20_2289

STARTERS GALORE: The starting rotation is about to get pretty crowded. Both Scott Elarton and Luke Hudson are expected to return from their rehab assignments this week. Any opinions on how the pitching staff should shape up?

BRING IN THE BAND: Nothing says Happy Cinco de Mayo at The K better than a roving Mariachi band in matching blue uniforms on the home dugout. Did you get a chance to join in on the Royals’ fiesta?

Mariachi_band_050707TEAHEN THE SPEECHWRITER: Even though he finished writing the speech just moments before heading into the banquet hall, Royals outfielder Mark Teahen had little trouble keeping the crowd entertained as the guest speaker at the 2007 Kansas City Star’s Scholar-Athlete Awards Program. When asked if he ever second-guessed a career as a Major League Baseball player, Teahen jokingly admitted he had some doubts as recently as last season…when he got sent to the minors for a month. We’re all glad the 2006 Player of the Year put those minor doubts behind him.

Amen

The Kansas City Royals Baseball Club is an inclusive organization. We welcome fans of every race, color, or creed. So when we mention anything with a religious tone, we do so in respect to the AnyFan. Still, a week after our posting on EWTN, the global Catholic Channel, we thought you’d be amused to know about the chapel held Saturday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

The folks at Fellowship of Christian Athletes, with their national headquarters across I-70 from “The K,” hold chapel before each Sunday home game. And Royals Captain Mike Sweeney, who appeared on EWTN twice this past week, asked the bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese to say a Mass Chapel Saturday afternoon.  He and Father Richard Rocha then stayed for the game and cheered wildly when Mike hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first.

Father Rocha, at the Stadium Club later, whispered to a Royals associate:  “If Jason LaRue hits a home run tonight, I’m going to dance on the table.” Jason, you see, was the other Royals player at Mass Saturday. Thankfully, that associate had moved the Bishop and the good Father to another part of the stadium when – bam – Jason smacked a solo homer in the 4th.  Can you imagine a man in a black shirt and white collar during our 5th inning dance-off?

Buck and DeJesus visit Sprint Store

2007_buck_signingDid you know there are at least three different locations in the Oak Park Mall area where you can purchase Sprint products? If you didn’t know that, Royals Senior Director of Publicity, Lora Grosshans, catcher John Buck and outfielder David DeJesus would all be happy to fill you in.

After ruling out the first two locations within the mall Thursday evening, Lora led John and David to the newest Sprint store in Overland Park, Kan., a free-standing store that sits across the street from Oak Park Mall, for a two-hour meet-and-greet on Friday. With all the different Sprint store locations to choose from and the fact that Lora didn’t realize the new store wasn’t located in the mall until Thursday, there was a slight concern that fans might have a little trouble tracking down the autograph session. Well, those concerns quickly vanished when the guys arrived to find a huge line of fans waiting to see them.

Thanks to everyone that came out…here are some snapshots of a handful of young Royals fans who came by to meet the guys today.2007_dejesus_talking_to_kids 2007_little_royals_girl  2007_dejesus_signing_hat

Lineups: Grud's back

We open a three-game set with Detroit tonight, the third time the Royals (10-19) have seen the Tigers (16-11) this year. Kansas City carries a 2-4 record against the Tigers into the game, and the Royals are throwing Brian Bannister (0-1, 4.91 ERA) up against Detroit’s Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.79 ERA). Just in case you blocked out all your memories of Verlander, he’s 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in his only four career starts against the Royals, including one already this year. Looks like it’s time to end that streak. Here are your lineups…welcome back, Grud!

For the Royals:
DeJesus – CF
Grudzielanek – 2B
Teahen – RF
Sweeney – DH
Gload – 1B
Butler – LF
Gordon – 3B
Buck – C
Pena – SS
Bannister – P

For the Tigers:
Granderson – CF
Polanco – 2B
Sheffield – DH
Ordonez – RF
Guillen – SS
Rodriguez – C
Casey – 1B
Monroe – LF
Inge – 3B
Verlander – P

R-O-Y-A-L-S

Spelling_bee_anthem_singerOkay…not that tough of a word to spell, but it’s the one John Buck is hoping to get this Sunday when he attends the performance of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” playing at the Music Hall in Kansas City, Mo. 

The Tony Award-winning musical comedy is in Kansas City from May 1-6 and today the cast took advantage of the Royals’ Thursday day game by coming out to the ballpark. Alan H. Green – one of the stars of the show – sang the National Spelling_bee_logoAnthem before the  game, while 13 members of the cast gathered in the seventh inning to lead the Kauffman Stadium crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Spelling_bee_7th_inning_stretchOn Sunday, after we wrap a weekend series against Detroit, Buck, his wife, Brooke, and some of his teammates, will be guests at “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” evening performance, where Buck will be presented as a “Celebrity Speller.” We aren’t exactly sure what that means for Buck, but we’re encouraging him to break out the dictionary just in case. To find out more about “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” or to purchase your tickets visit  www.theaterleague.com.

Lineups and Buck's Tornado Inquiries

It’s another rainy day at the ballpark, but that didn’t stop us last night from getting in a game – and a win. Gil Meche (2-1, 2.18 ERA) gets the start this afternoon against the Angels Jered Weaver (1-2, 5.40 ERA). It’s only a light mist right now and all reports indicate it will stay this way throughout the afternoon…break out the raingear.

From today’s Game Notes: Last night’s 3-1 victory over the Angels marked the second time this year the Royals double-teamed their opponent with our Mexican-born pitchers, Jorge De La Rosa and Joakim Soria. DLR picked up his third win of the year, while Soria recorded his fourth save. It marked the 12th time in Major League history that a team used two Mexican-born pitchers in the same game to seal a win.

Off the Field: More preparation for the ninth annual “School Day at the K” took place prior to this afternoon’s game. Cory, a cameraman from FOX 4, staked out an area in the dugout as we gathered up some ballplayers from the clubhouse and indoor batting cages to go on camera. The participating players – Ryan Shealy, Billy Butler and John Buck – had to put their memory skills to use, each asking one weather-related question that will be replayed on the JumboTron during “School Day at the K” next Thursday, May 10. Buck, who jokingly expressed concerned about being hooked up to a microphone in the rain, had to use three or four takes to spit out this question:
      Which country had the most tornadoes besides the United States?
                           (a) Australia (b) Canada (c) England

Guess we’ll find out the answer next Thursday. Here’s your lineup for today…as you’ll see, Buck didn’t get electrocuted.

For the Royals:
DeJesus – CF
German – 2B
Teahen – RF
Sweeney – DH
Gload – 1B
Butler – LF
Gordon – 3B
Buck – C
Pena – SS
Meche – P

For the Angels:
Matthews – CF
Figgins – 2B
Willits – LF
Guerrero – RF
Kotchman – 1B
Aybar – SS
Hillenbrand – DH
Molina – C
Wood – 3B
Jer. Weaver – P

Royals Celebrate 15 Years with Dream Factory

Dream_factory_kid_1 It’s three hours before first pitch and it’s raining. The white tarp drapes the field and the dugout is empty. Really empty. Doesn’t really sound like a fun way to spend an evening at the ballpark, does it? Well, 12-year-old Josh begs to differ and he has Royals Captain Mike Sweeney backing him up.

As the first KMBC-TV Dream Factory child to visit Kauffman Stadium this season, Josh – pictured here with his sister Kate, Sweeney and KMBC-TV’s Larry Moore – was hoping that a little rain on Wednesday wouldn’t dampen his Royals experience. Luckily, running into Sweeney as the Royals veteran was heading to the indoor batting cages worked out perfectly. Sweeney chatted with Josh and then introduced the young Royals fan to a few teammates…John Buck, Gil Meche and “Big Donkey” (aka Billy Butler), who Sweeney introduced as “our starting left fielder.”

“(Sweeney) just keeps bringing guys out,” a smiling Josh said from just inside the Royals dugout. “I can’t keep them all straight. This is awesome.”

This season marks the 15th anniversary of the Royals partnership with the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Dream Factory. For each Wednesday home game throughout the season, the Royals grant the wish of a Dream Factory child, a youngster who faces a serious challenge. The child, along with his or her family, comes out to Kauffman Stadium and meets his or her favorite Royals players before receiving tickets and refreshments for that day’s home game. The child’s Royals experience then appears on the KMBC-TV (Channel 9) 10 p.m. newscast in the “Dream Factory” segment.

This season, look for more stories like Josh’s at royals.com as we celebrate 15 years of working with Dream Factory.

Lineups: Pack the Umbrellas

In case you missed it (and have been too busy to check the box score), Billy Butler had a memorable Major League debut Tuesday night. The Royals highly anticipated slugger went 2-for-4 and made a “shoe-string catch” out in left field, which he confessed to the Star’s Bob Dutton shouldn’t have been such a dramatic snag. Regardless, it was an encouraging start and we should all be looking for him to help “spark” some offensive.

Speaking of offense…here’s a – justified – concern: our batters have struck out 211 times heading into tonight’s game. 211 times! That’s tied for second most in the league (also Tampa Bay) behind Florida’s 223 (stats through May 1). Yikes! And, who’s whiffing the most at the plate for us? That’s rookie (and Butler’s old Wichita teammate) Alex Gordon, who – hopefully – won’t be leading the team in that category much longer as he starts to get a handle on his swing. He’s struck out 31 times total and recorded at least one K in 22 of the 25 games he’s played in this season. However…he’s collected 11 walks – all in his last 13 games – and has been hit by an American League-leading seven pitches. So, he’s finding ways to get on base despite the fact that his bat is no help right now. Did you see the spread ESPN The Magazine recently did on him? What about this article from SI.com? Stay patient, Royals fans…

It’s time to take this homestand in a new direction. We’re putting lefty Jorge De La Rosa (2-2, 3.82) on the mound against the Angels Ervin Santana (2-3, 5.79). Jorge suffered a setback in his last start on Friday in Seattle, lasting 6.1 innings and allowing 5 runs in 7-4 loss to the Mariners. However, at home, DLR couldn’t be more impressive this season with a pair of wins and a 0.60 ERA in his only two starts at Kauffman.

Here’s your lineups…let’s hope the rain is almost over.

For the Royals:
DeJesus – CF
German – 2B
Teahen – RF
Sanders – DH
Gload – 1B
Gordon – 3B
Butler – LF
Pena – SS
LaRue – C
De La Rosa – P

For the Angels:
Matthews – CF
Willits – RF
Cabrera – SS
Guerrero – DH
Quinlan – LF
Hillenbrand – 1B
Aybar – 2B
Napoli – C
Figgins – 3B
E. Santana – P

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