After spending the morning visiting area radio and television stations, Hillman joined a handful of Royals associates and mascot Sluggerrr at the Holiday Shop, which has been serving those in need in Johnson County for 30 years. The group of volunteers distributed winter coats, clothing, food and holiday gifts to low-income families and individuals from the area. Hillman’s first assignment: manning the canned corn and canned peas tables.
The Johnson County Christmas Bureau — a volunteer, non-profit organization created in 1960 to provide food, clothing, gifts, toys and personal care items to those in need — operates the holiday shop each winter. This season’s shop is open from Nov. 30-Dec. 8 at the Cherokee Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kan., with plans to help more than 9,000 needy residents. Nearly 100 local groups and organizations — including the Royals, area schools, churches and businesses — volunteer time at the holiday shop each year with 25 to 30 organizations staying involved all year long.
Along with volunteering at the shop, the Royals – through Royals Charities – have also held a coat drive at the stadium for the past four seasons that benefits the JCCB Holiday Shop.
Yasuhiko Yabuta has been a member of the Royals for only a day, but already he knows the right things to say to fit in with Kansas City fans.
When KC Star writer Bob Dutton asked if Yabuta had heard about or tried Kansas City barbecue yet, Yabuta smiled and, through his interpreter Kaz Kojima, responded with a strong: “I love it.”
In a make-shift interview room on the second floor of the Plaza Marriott, the Royals introduced Yabuta Thursday afternoon. (Due to the renovations at Kauffman Stadium, the press conference had to move off site and thankfully the Marriott had space available.) But before facing the local media for the first time, the Japanese-born reliever apparently was treated to a BBQ-themed dinner Wednesday evening in celebration of signing with the team, enjoying his first “real” taste of KC.
For nearly an hour Thursday, local and Japanese media asked Yabuta, General Manager Dayton Moore and new Manager Trey Hillman – back in KC for just the second time since being named the club’s skipper – to break down the club’s new signing. The 34-year-old reliever, who will be playing in the United States for the first time in his 12-year professional career, is just the second Japanese-born player to appear for the Royals, joining Mac Suzuki (1999-2002). Yabuta, who wore No. 20 in Japan, sported a No. 27 Royals jersey for the press conference, citing he chose the number in honor of Royals pitcher Kevin Appier.
Now, with the signing, physical and press conference out of the way, Yabuta heads back to Japan until after the New Year, equipped with a pile of American baseballs to start working with (they are slightly different than Japanese baseballs) and a new Royals cap!
Konichiwa, Yabuta, welcome to Kansas City!
Media Relations has been a little busy this afternoon…
YABUTA SIGNED RELEASE: We just announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta to a two-year contract with an option for 2010.
According to the release…Yabuta, 34, will become just the second Japanese-born player to appear for the Royals, joining Mac Suzuki, who pitched for the Royals from 1999-2002. Yabuta has spent his entire 12-year professional career pitching for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League from 1996-2007. A native of Osaka, Japan, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Yabuta is 44-59 with nine saves and a 4.03 ERA in 343 career appearances, including 86 starts.
Yabuta has appeared almost exclusively in relief the past four seasons, including posting a 4-6 mark with four saves, 38 holds and a 2.73 ERA in 58 relief outings for the Marines in 2007. In 62.2 innings, he walked just 10 while striking out 45. Since the 2004 season, he has compiled a 2.80 ERA in 222 games as Chiba Lotte’s main setup reliever.
Yabuta was a key contributor to Japan’s run to the 2006 World Baseball Classic title, posting a 2.08 ERA in four appearances. He allowed just two hits and one run in 4.1 innings, walking one and striking out five. His World Baseball Classic stint included striking out Alex Rodriguez, Derrek Lee and Johnny Damon in a 1.1-inning outing against the United States. For the complete release, click here…
SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE RELEASE: Sure it is still November. And, Kansas City technically hasn’t even received the first snow fall of the season. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, we are already dreaming about Spring…the Royals 2008 Spring Training schedule has been released!
This year, we open are sixth season as members of the 12-team Cactus League on Wednesday, Feb. 27 with a charity game against the Texas Rangers – who we share our Spring Training complex with in Surprise, Ariz. The game will benefit the Surprise Sundancers. Then, the Royals officially open league play on Friday, Feb. 29 in Peoria, Ariz., against the San Diego Padres. The complete schedule can be found here.
Here’s a rundown of Spring Reporting Dates:
February 13 – Pitchers and Catchers Report
February 14 – Pitchers and Catchers First Workout
February 18 – Full Squad Reports
February 19 – First Full Squad Workout
BANKSTON AND MILDREN RELEASE: In other news, infielder Wes Bankston has been claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics, while left-handed pitcher Paul Mildren cleared waivers and was outrighted to Omaha. Both players were designated for assignment by the Royals on Nov. 20.
From the release…Bankston, 23, was claimed off waivers by the Royals from the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 21. Mildren, 23, made three starts for Omaha in late August after being claimed off waivers from the Florida Marlins on Aug. 17.
Even though most of us here in the front office aren’t witnessing the construction first hand right now, the renovations at Kauffman are still going at full speed.
Ben Mertens – our coordinator of game entertainment and unofficial Renovations photographer! – snapped a few photos yesterday afternoon of crews working on the new seats in the Crown Club and out in front of the stadium.
With most of the big demolition complete, the construction crews are giving a lot of attention to structural and mechanical elements, resetting the foundation for the new seats, the bullpens and, of course, the Crown Scoreboard. In fact, as soon as the rock anchors and structural beams are in place, the actual video display for the Crown Scoreboard will be attached.
Until then, it is just a lot of beneath-the-surface work in areas with restricted access…which limits our picture-taking abilities at times! But,we’ll continue to keep you as updated as possible, including devoting the next Royals Relay Chat Series (psst…NEXT Tuesday!) completely to the Renovations.
Also, we haven’t given up on the stadium web cams. In fact, we hear there is movement on that front and we’ll definitely let you know the moment they are up and running.
Brian Bannister’s outstanding rookie season is getting recognized again.
On Monday morning, Topps named the Royals right-hander to the 49th Annual Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team.
The 26-year-old Bannister posted a 12-9 mark with a 3.87 ERA in 27 starts in 2007, ranking fourth in the A.L. in ERA and second in wins. Among Royals rookies, his ERA was seventh-best all-time and the lowest since Kevin Appier’s franchise-record 2.76 mark in 1990. This season, Bannister picked up the American League Rookie of the Month Award in June and August while also taking home Royals Pitcher of the Month Award honors June, July and August. In addition, Banny snagged the 2007 Joe Burke Special Achievement award, which the Royals awarded at the end of the season.
The other Major League rookies to make the Rookie All-Star Team:
1B James Loney, Los Angeles (N.L) (98 games, 15 HR, 67 RBI, .331)
2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston (139, 8, 50, .317)
3B Ryan Braun, Milwaukee (113, 34, 97, .324)
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (155, 24, 99, .291)
OF Delmon Young, Tampa Bay (162, 13, 93, .288)
OF Chris Young, Arizona (148, 32, 68, .237)
OF Hunter Pence, Houston (108, 17, 69, .322)
C Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia (115, 6, 54, .259)
RHP Brian Bannister, Kansas City (165 IP, 12-9, 3.87, 77 K, 44 BB)
LHP Hideki Okajima, Boston (69 IP, 3-2, 2.22, 63 K, 17 BB)
For the full release on the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star team, click here.
Note – This blog entry comes from Royals vice president of community affairs & publicity, Toby Cook, who’s enjoying the Thanksgiving break with family.
Hey, it’s cold in Kansas City finally. The Plaza lights are either being warmed up or already on, depending on when you’re reading this post. I like turkey leftovers, but I like meaningful Big 12 football games and pie more. And I like what this week means more than all of that: spending time with family and friends and being thankful for things you often take for granted.
Joe Posnanski, the fine and honest columnist for the Kansas City Star, lists the things he’s thankful for each year. I can’t remember if it’s Thanksgiving or New Year’s. But here’s a few items that come to mind for us in the Royals front office:
We’re thankful our fans pay attention to 40-man roster moves in the middle of football and basketball seasons. We’re thankful to be getting the largest high-definition video board in the world next season as a part of major renovations to Kauffman Stadium. We’re thankful we have guys like general manager Dayton Moore and new field skipper Trey Hillman on our team. They list family and friends as priorities ahead of baseball, and yet they still compete as though finishing anything but number one is unacceptable.
I, for one, am thankful for Lora, Ben, Betty, Joy, Josh, Megan, Precious, and Byron in my department and all our Royals associates, full-time and seasonal. Megan, by the way, writes most of our blog posts.
From all of us hidden away in an undisclosed location, our temporary offices away from torn-apart Kauffman, may your Thanksgiving break remind you of the many more things to be thankful for that don’t always come readily to mind.
40-MAN ROSTER: Just released from Media Relations…
The Kansas City Royals have set their winter 40-man roster. The Royals have selected catcher Matt Tupman, infielder Mario Lisson, left-handed pitcher Tyler Lumsden and right-handed pitcher Julio Pimentel to the Major League 40-man roster. In addition, the Royals designated infielders Wes Bankston and Craig Brazell, and left-handed pitcher Paul Mildren for assignment. The Royals also outrighted right-handed pitcher Roman Colon to Omaha (AAA) and signed him to a minor league contract. Colon will be invited to the club’s 2008 Major League Spring Training camp in Surprise, Ariz.
For the complete release, click here…
ROYALS FANFEST KEEPS GROWING: We tried to squeeze everything we wanted into one day, but it was just too much. We didn’t want to cut anything and miss out on offering you something unique, so instead we are just making the 2008 Royals FanFest even bigger!
That’s right – Royals FanFest is now a TWO-DAY event! The event kicks off in the evening on Friday, Jan. 18 and then follows up with a full-day of activities, player appearances, programs and games on Saturday, Jan. 19. Honestly, the more we worked on this event the easier it became to make the decision to extend to two days!
While at the community center, the Royals outfielder signed autographs, posed for pictures and chowed down on a traditional Thanksgiving feast! He also presented the Guadalupe Centers, which strives to improve the quality of life for individuals in the Latino communities of greater Kansas City, with a check for $6,000 – the amount raised during the Royals "Viva Los Royals" event on Sept. 7.
Thursday is moving day at Kauffman Stadium. Due to the renovations, our Administrative Offices are temporarily relocating to an off-site office building for the next 18 months. Because of the move, our phones, computer, network, this blog, etc., will be shut down for the next couple of days.
Enjoy the weekend!
On Wednesday, we volunteered at the City Union Mission in Kansas City, Mo., passing out meals and greeting area families in need at two separate locations. Frank, along with his wife, Teresa, two of his sons and his daughter-in-law, headed up the Royals crew at the Family Center. Meanwhile, down the street, DeJesus and the rest of the Royals volunteers served food at the Men’s Center. It was the second year the Royals volunteered with the City Union Mission, which provides warm beds, nutritious food and a safe place for thousands of poverty stricken and homeless men, women and children in the Kansas City area.
Another announcement out of the Media Relations office today…
We made several moves to the 40-man Major League roster, adding right-handed pitchers Roman Colon, Luke Hudson and Joe Nelson as well as infielders Angel Sanchez and Ryan Shealy. All five players were reinstated from the 60-day Disabled List.
Also…we sent left-handed pitcher Danny Christensen to the Detroit Tigers as the player to be named in the July 13, 2007, trade that sent pitcher Roman Colon to the Royals. Christensen, 24, posted a 3-15 mark with a 6.21 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) for Class AA Wichita last season.
And, then…Joe Nelson was designated for assignment. Nelson, 33, missed the entire 2007 season after undergoing right shoulder surgery in March. He was 1-1 with nine saves and a 4.43 ERA 43 appearances with the Royals in 2006.
With the moves, our 40-man roster now stands at 40…