Spring Training is Here…

…and we have photos to prove it!2008_st_team_stretch_dsc_9034

Team photographer Chris Vleisides stayed busy during Tuesday’s full squad workout, snapping photos of the team down in Surprise, Ariz. St_219_guillen_smiling_dsc_9848We are putting together some galleries for royals.com, but until those get up on the site, enjoy these first images of Royals baseball!

Jose Guillen is all smiles (did you hear about the wig?) at his first Royals camp…2008_st_butlershealy_9310

…Billy Butler and Ryan Shealy manning first base… 2008_st_german_9451_3

…Esteban German leaping for a ball… 2008_st_trey_and_dayton_dsc_9139_3

…GM Moore and Manager Hillman – putting the pieces of the organization together!

In other news…

SEVEN MORE ROYALS INK DEALS: For a second straight day, we signed seven players to one-year Major League contracts good through 2008.

Wednesday morning, we agreed to terms with right-handed pitchers Ryan Braun, Kyle Davies, Leo Nunez, Joel Peralta, Carlos Rosa and Joakim Soria as well as shortstop Tony Pena, Jr. On Tuesday afternoon, the list included left-handed pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Neal Musser, right-handed pitcher Julio Pimentel, catcher Matt Tupman, infielders Justin Huber and Mario Lisson and outfielder Mitch Maier.

With the 14 signings in the past two days, the Royals currently have eight unsigned players for this season.

WELCOME HOME LUNCHEON SET: We just announced the plans for the 2008 Welcome Home Luncheon! The annual Luncheon is set for Wednesday, April 9 at The Westin Crown Center (yup, new location this season!) at 11:30 a.m. with the formal program set to begin at noon. As always, the entire team will be in attendance as well as GM Dayton Moore and Manager Hillman.

Just to note, if you check our home schedule, you’ll notice we don’t have an off day following our home opener (April 8) this year. Therefore, if you plan on attending the Luncheon, you might as well just make it a Royals day and head out to the ballpark after wards to catch the second game of the team’s three-game set with the Yankees. Sounds good, right?

Tickets for the Luncheon are available for purchase NOW – and there are a limited number available! So, click here to place your order.

ROYALS REPORT TICKET OPPORTUNITY: We are releasing the details of this presale opportunity later today, but here is what you can expect…If you haven’t already, sign up online for the Royals Report – the team’s official email newsletter – by Friday, Feb. 29 and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase tickets to every 2008 Royals home game, excluding Opening Day, in a special ticket presale. The presale, which you’ll receive an email about after you register, will be on Wednesday, March 5 and Thursday, March 6, allowing you to secure tickets early for games such as the Powder Blue Replica Jersey Night (April 12), the Boston Red Sox series (Aug. 4-6) or Alex Gordon Bobblehead Night (June 21). Register now!

2008_st_field_dedication_dsc_0027_1  FIELD DEDICATION AND REMEMBERING DONNA STEWART: This morning down in Surprise, the Royals held a ceremony to dedicate three Spring Training practice fields and the complex observation tower. The following is from Royals VP Toby Cook, who emceed the event:

Royals GM Dayton Moore has a knack for connecting the Royals great past with a hope for a winning future. On Wednesday morning, he asked manager Trey Hillman to gather his players around Field 7 at the Surprise Recreation Campus for a special ceremony.

I was humbled he asked me to emcee.

Humility is a pretty good word for the workman-like way four men contributed to the Royals postseason runs from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. George Brett at third, Frank White at second, **** Howser in the dugout and Art Stewart in the stands scouting. The first three had their numbers retired. The latter has been with the Club from the beginning and will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame this year.

2008_st_art_stewart_tower_dsc_9461The Royals named three of the complex’s practice fields after Brett, White and Howser (now formerly Field 7). They named the observation tower in another part of the complex after Stewart. It’s a fitting and sad tribute for Art’s family.  Just Tuesday, his wife, Donna, died of cancer in Kansas City. Dayton accepted the award in his honor. Former Royals catcher and manager John Wathan accepted on behalf of Howser, who also died of cancer in 1987. We held a moment of silence during the dedication ceremony in the memory of Donna Stewart and Richard Davenport, who died this past weekend and was the father of the team’s traveling secretary Jeff Davenport.

Through heavy hearts and a sense of hope, Spring Training is in full swing in Surprise. And for the players who are preparing for the 2008 season as locks or just candidates to make the team, they get to practice on fields named after guys who proved hard work and dedication are keys to success in any era.

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