June 2008

Weekend Recap

6-30 Art 3.jpgSo we’ve got some catching up to do around here at Around the Horn… As promised, we’ve got photos from Art’s Hall of Fame induction and the Diamond of Dreams charity event.

Today, we’ll give you a run down of Art’s induction and crunch the final numbers from last Thursday. So far things are looking like a huge success and the Dream Factory will be very happy with what we were able to do.

Lot’s of stuff has been going on with the team in town for the last three series. We’ve been playing well, welcomed over 105, 700 fans to the K for the Cardinals Series and we have a new Hall of Fame member. To bring everyone up to speed, let’s go around the horn…

First
Art’s ceremony was touching. Rather than re-hash what was said which you can find here. We’d first like to compliment the Kansas City Star on the nice piece about Art which appeared in yesterday’s paper and show you what happened on the field before Saturday’s game.

 Getting the Royal Treatment:

6-30 Art 1.jpgRollin’ out the Blue Carpet for Art Stewart.

6-30 Art 2.jpgArt making his speech to a sold out Kauffman Stadium. One of the more memorable portions of his speech was about all the player’s with monuments at Monument Park in Yankee Stadium But there were none of the great scouts who signed those players. The Royals were one of the first teams to recognize the work of the scout. 

Thumbnail image for 6-30 Art 4.jpg
Art threw out the first pitch to fellow Royals Hall of Famer Frank White.

 
6-30 Art 5.jpg

Art and the gang: the Royals Hall of Famers who were present for the on field presentation, Jeff Montgomery ’03, Dennis Leonard ’89, Frank White ’95, Willie Wilson ’00, George Brett ’94 and John Mayberry ’96 (Hal McRae ’89 was on the field for the ceremony but returned to the Cardinals to attend to his duties as Hitting Coach and Paul Splittorff ’87 was in the Royals broadcast booth).

6-30 Art 6.jpg
Senior Assistant to the General Manager Art Stewart and General Manager Dayton Moore.

Second
While the Royals lost the final two games of interleague, we still tied for the second best interleague record in the Majors (Detroit also went 13-5 and Minnesota went 14-4). The Royals record is also their all-time best in interleague. In 2006 and 2007, the Royals went 10-8 which stood as their best record until this season.

As for the Redbirds, we won four games against St. Louis. The Royals had never won more than three games in one season before 2008 against the Cardinals (except 1985). The 4-2 mark against St. Louis is also the first time since 2001 that we’ve won the season series.
 
Short
Leading off, lead-off man David DeJesus left yesterday’s game with a bruised lower right ribcage because he landed on Cardinal catcher 6-30 DeJesus.jpgJason LaRue’s helmet after a collision in the first inning yesterday and is not starting in tonight’s game…DeJesus’ hitting streak is still intact despite not getting a hit yesterday because he walked and did not record an official at-bat…From Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: DeJesus is day-to-day and still feels sore on the deceleration of his swing…Also from Trey: He made a note that Mark Grudzielanek does not play like a 38-year-old, he’s tough…Speaking of Grudzielanek, today is his 38th birthday, so happy birthday Mark…Billy Butler will start his first game tonight after a recall from a stint in Omaha in which he hit .337 with six doubles, five home runs and 13 RBIs. 

Third
Still lot’s going on even with the team out of town…

Tomorrow: Online Chat Series with Deric Ladnier, Senior-Director of Scouting.

This week: ATH will have plenty of insight on the team (we’ve got a man or two on the inside). And we will have renovation updates as well as a Diamond of Dreams recap tomorrow.

All-Star Balloting: Stuff the boxes, it’s almost over.

On TV: The next seven games are all on FSN-KC. Saturday’s telecast was not originally scheduled but will be added to makeup for the May 22 rainout in Cleveland. It will be a regular telecast with Royals Live with Joel Goldberg starting at 5:30 and game coverage beginning at 6. (all times are CT)

Lineup

Aviles SS
Grudzielanek 2B
Gordon 3B
Guillen LF
Teahen RF
Butler DH
Gload 1B
Buck C
Gathright CF

Greinke P

Here’s today’s Official Game Notes.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog) 

Touch 'em All: John Martin on painting Hall of Fame portraits, not knowing who Nolan Ryan is and 36-hour days

6-28 John Martin 2.JPGLast night was one of those nights that will be special for a lot of people for a long time. Forget about the game for a minute and think about what new Royals Hall of Famer Art Stewart said during his speech. He said he’d always remember the night. It was an honor he never dreamed of.

Well, one man who was integral in the induction ceremony, though he didn’t speak or even appear down on the field, was John Martin. In fact Martin has been a key component in every Royals HOF induction. Martin is a painter with deep ties to the organization. You’ve undoubtedly seen his work. It’s everywhere at Kauffman and his connection to the Royals dates back to the 1970s. He’s done media guide covers, yearbook covers, all 23 Hall of Fame Portraits, World Series and All-Star Game programs and a good 1,500 to 2,000 total projects. His NCAA mural for the headquarters in Kansas City (before they moved to Indianapolis) took him over three years and measured 12 feet tall and 90 feet in length. Yep, he’s the Michelangelo of KC.

A week ago, Around the Horn took a trip to Martin’s house/studio in Shawnee, Kan. and ate up an hour of his valuable time. Martin was already having a busy week, having been in New York two days earlier and he was planning a trip back to his hometown of Ottawa, Kan. later that afternoon.

Martin graciously allowed Around the Horn to take some pictures and snoop around, marveling at all the paintings hanging on his walls. We saw the Art Stewart portrait hours after it had been finished and got an exclusive interview with the man behind the canvas. He apologized because he said he was running on just an hour of sleep. He even claimed he was “slow to the trigger.” You make the call on this, the second installment of Around the Horn’s Touch ‘em All…

Around the Horn: Thanks for showing us around your studio.
John Martin: Not a problem. Happy to have you.


6-28 Art.JPGATH:
You said all told, Art’s portrait took between 15 and 20 hours. It’s 9 in the morning and you’re running on very little sleep. Now that the paint is drying, are you happy with the way the painting turned out?
JM: Oh yeah. You don’t short change the painting. When push comes to shove, your sleep or rest time gets short changed. There’s never any doubt about that. You always allocate time and back-up time. When I schedule my work, I have to have a certain time period. I have to think ahead because 90 percent of my work is out of town. I fly maybe 35-40,000 miles a year, mostly on the eastern seaboard. So I have to schedule a lot ahead of time.

I’m the planner and I’ve got to do the whole thing because I’m a one-man band. So I have to allocate and know how long something’s going to take. But every once in a while, I’ll get in a snag like this where two or three things come due unexpectedly. But I usually schedule my work so I have down time and it’s not so rigid. For a three-quarter length life size, I usually allocate a month. In reality, if I had to do it and I worked 12 hours a day, I could probably do it in 10 days.

ATH: Art’s portrait is the 23rd you’ve done for the Royals Hall of Fame. Plus you’ve done a bunch of other stuff. How much work have you done for the Royals?
JM: You know it’s interesting. I may sound crazy, but I actually have an idea as to what that is. I have a numbering system for all of my clients and I actually kept the Royals as a separate account. I’ve done approximately 160 jobs for them through the years.

It seems incredible. I look back at that and say, “my gosh, 160 jobs.” Well, there were times when I would do the media guide, the yearbook and special events. So I may have done five to six – maybe even more than that – jobs in one year’s time. So they kind of add up. I started working for them regularly back in the early 80s and through the mid-90s. That’s when we did the actual yearbook. We, meaning my wife and I, designed it and worked with Dean Vogelaar, who was then the Public Relations Director. And it was fun because we were given quite a bit of freedom as far as the format and given an idea from the past season. We got to go down to spring training and spend a week in Florida. Mainly to collect information on new personnel and we’d have sketches of the design and have those looked over. We’d also have a photographer come down and take pictures of the new personnel and do the team picture. Those were fun times.

So consistently that went from like 1983 to 1996, about 13, 14 years. The one that got a lot of awards was the ’89 yearbook. Of course, we got some awards when we won the World Series. It was the ’86 yearbook after the ’85 Series. But ’89 was a locker that we got and set-up and it was filled with things pertaining to the editorial content. But we always did pretty well with the yearbooks.

ATH: That’s quite a bit of work. With the paintings being on display for fans to see during all 81 home games, plus your work being sold for a number of years, what’s that like as an artist to have your work so prominent and seen by so many people?
JM: It’s great to have that kind of exposure. It’s the knowing that I had a hand with a player being in the Hall of Fame. I was involved in creating something that’s on display, of course that’s the reward-gain of an artist.

I will say, the first time I saw the banners blown up out at the stadium.6-29 Denny Poster.jpg That was really something. I went into the stadium with some friends and I had not seen them up there yet. And when you drove in and saw that from the parking lot that was like, “Wow.” When you think about it, there probably aren’t too many artists that have their work on display at 15 feet high. That is rather unusual. When you see that on the stadium, you can image the feeling you get. Some artists work for an exhibit or a show, but for me it’s to come on out to the stadium and you can see them for half a mile.

ATH: You’ve also done some of the postseason posters, media guides and yearbooks since you’ve been getting work with the Royals. While we were down in your studio, there were photos of Art around the actual portrait. How do use photos in your work?
JM: You’ll see some of these montage works. Sometimes I’ll get an assignment that features five or six players. The last media guide I did, I think was 2000 when they had Damon and Dye, Sweeney, really a pretty good core of young players. What I try to do is get enough photos of each player and try to make a balance of pictures and try to make out something that says who they are and what style they play. Maybe they swing the bat or the way they pitch. I try to look for some way someone would look at that and they’d say ‘Oh, yeah, that’s this particular player.’ So I try to get the right photo and then try to start developing it into a painting. You really have to know your subject. I try to get a feel for a player, how he plays, his moves, motions and so on.

I did do quite a bit of sports photography at that time. I got to go to the dugout and work with the press photographers. In the early days, if I didn’t have enough information on a particular player, I’d get a press pass and go in and take my own pictures.

One story that was funny, it was 1977 and I was shooting some players that I wasn’t satisfied with the information that I had, so I went to a game and we were playing the California Angels. And it was maybe the fourth or the fifth inning and this pitcher for the California Angels was lights out. I was like wow. The guy had great form. There hadn’t been anybody on base. And I looked at the guy next to me and I said ‘Who is that guy?’ He said ‘You mean, you don’t know who that is?’ ‘Nah’ I said. ‘That’s Nolan Ryan.’ I said ‘This guy’s pretty good.’

So I took some pictures of him because his motion was just sweet. And it turned out, one of my commissions I got later on was for Major League Baseball. So I ended up doing the cover for the ’80 World Series. But the cover, the motion is based on Nolan Ryan. They said that book sold more copies than any of them in the history up to that time. I did four World Series covers and three All-Star game covers.


 ATH:
So, it seems like you work in both photography and paint?
JM: Photography is just a tool that is used as a reference. If I’m assigned to do a particular person for the Hall of Fame, most of the time it’s from photos that have been taken that I’m working from. The way they’ve been designed it shows the portrait head and shoulders and then an action shot would be worked into it. That’s what I started when we came up with the Hall of Fame. In the case of Art Stewart or Joe Burke or some of the other people that were executives – even though I did a large/small with Danny Mathews – it depends on the situation and what it called for.





6-28 John Martin Box.JPGATH:
You’re obviously a Royals fan. What’s the most rewarding portrait you’ve done?
JM: Boy, I don’t know. I think, well, the only reason I point it out is the timeliness of Dan Quisenberry and working with the people out there. He’d already been diagnosed with cancer. Not only that but because of the person. Quiz was a really special person. He had a lot of great qualities off the field too.

 
 
But that one and of course, Dick Howser. That was after he had already died. I have a special feeling for all of them because of their achievements. I guess because of their timeliness of their health, it was really special that I was in a position to make a contribution like that. Otherwise, they all have their own special meaning. The first ones I did of Amos Otis and Steve Busby. And of course George and Frank. They all have their own story. But because of the timeliness of Quisenberry and Howser. I can say things about Ewing Kauffman. It was a great time for the Royals.

ATH: Now, your work hasn’t been limited to the Royals. So what’s the most meaningful piece that stands out in your mind?
JM: I think in sports, of course, I’ve always thought this Longhorns Stampede piece for the University of Texas was one of my favorites. The other one was the All-American room at the University of Kansas. The piece that’s over the fireplace. It’s coincidental, but probably our (editor’s note: Martin is a Jayhawk) greatest athlete was Al Oerter who was a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist in the discus. In the background, you can see the ancient Olympian with the discus and the statement it makes about the student-athlete.

One of my favorite pieces, sports pieces, was the one they call the Mount Rushmore of Kansas City (another editor’s note: this painting features Buck O’Neil, Len Dawson, Tom Watson and George Brett). It was done to raise money for ALS, it was a very successful print. We had all four of them sign it. We did a limited edition of 250 prints. They sold for $500 and the first 100 sold for $1,000. We sold most of them out, so it was very successful. What was really neat about it was I knew all four of them before it, but we had all four of them come over and sign it down in the studio.

ATH: Well John, that wraps it up. Thank you so much for your time.
JM: It’s not a problem. Thanks for coming out.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)  

Game 2 – A Royal Event

Yes, tonight is a big one, with a sold out crowd and an intrastate showdown. But tonight is more than that. Tonight, we are honoring one of the best men in baseball. The Royals are inducting their 23rd member to the Hall of Fame, Art Stewart. 6-28 Gordon.JPGEach time one of these events comes around, it’s always a special moment and tonight promises to follow that mold.
For more on the special night, let’s go around the horn…
 
First
Art Stewart is the Royals’ longest tenured associate. He’s been with the club for 39 years. Over 50 years of his life has been spent in baseball. Stewart currently holds the position of Senior Advisor to the General Manager, a post he’s held since 1997. Before that, Stewart served as Director of Scouting from 1984-96. He’s also helped in the organization of the baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and served as a scout in the Midwest for a number of years.
 
Stewart may not be the most visible person in the Royals organization to fans, but his work most certainly is visible. Over 70 players Stewart drafted or scouted reached the Majors, including Bo Jackson, Kevin Appier, Brian McRae, Mike Sweeney, Johnny Damon, Joe Randa and Carlos Beltran.
 
During Spring Training, the Royals dedicated three fields, naming them for the retired numbers in the organization, Dick Howser, George Brett and Frank White. At the same time, the Club dedicated the observation tower, naming it Stewart Tower.
 
If you’re curious who Stewart is, he can be seen at most Royals home games, sitting a few rows behind home plate holding a radar gun and jotting notes.
 
Second
During a pre-game interview with the media earlier this week, manager Trey Hillman talked about ‘slug.’ Very simply, ‘slug’ is a lineups ability to hit the ball and hit it hard. The Royals are showing quite a bit of slug lately, with the most recent example being Alex Gordon’s 416-foot shot in the fifth last night. Gordon has hit five homers in his last 16 games.
 
Gordon’s recent surge can be attributed some to the protection Jose Guillen provides hitting right behind him in the lineup. Hitting in the three-hole, Gordon has seen better pitches to hit and taken advantage of it. Last season he ended with 15 homers. 6-20 Teahen.jpgLast night he joined Guillen as the only double-digit Royals so far this season. But three more players are chomping at the bit to join them, with David DeJesus, Mark Teahen and Miguel Olivo all sitting at eight homers.

Short
As a team, the Royals have gone 11-1 over their last 12, homering in all but three games, including going homerless in their lone loss…Of note: Hot hitting Billy Butler has been recalled from Omaha and Alberto Callaspo moved to the Disabled List. Butler was hitting .337 with six doubles, a triple, five homers and 13 RBI while with Omaha.
 
Third
A few reminders of what to watch out for…
 
On Around the Horn: Tomorrow a complete recap of tonight’s festivities and a Touch ‘em All interview with John Martin (no regular around the horn).
Monday: A recap of the “Eye”-70 Series, presented by Silverstein Eye Centers.
Later this week: A renovations update and more daily content.
 
On royals.com: The Royals Relay chat series will have another installment on Tuesday. Royals’ Senior Director of Scouting Deric Ladnier will be online at 3 p.m. CT to take question from fans.
 
On the field: The Royals finish up with the Cards tomorrow at 1:10 (tickets still available) and head out to Baltimore on Monday for a four game set. You can catch all four games on FSN-KC at 6:05 p.m. CT.
 
 
Tonight’s Lineup:
LF David DeJesus (l .317-8-41)
SS Mike Aviles (R .313-3-14)
3B Alex Gordon (L .266-10-39)
DH Jose Guillen (R .285-13-60)
2B Mark Grudzielanek (r .302-2-14)
RF Mark Teahen (L .256-8-26)
C Miguel Olivo (R .257-8-27)
1B Ross Gload (l .263-1-14)
CF Joey Gathright (L .245-0-14)
 
P Kyle Davies (3-0, 3.12)

Today’s Official Game Notes.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)  

THE weekend is here.

6-27 Meche.jpgThe Royals and the Redbirds. We swept them last week on their side of the state. They were missing a few key players who are back and looking for revenge this week. We’re ramping up to have a huge weekend here at the K. It’s the “Eye”-70 Series 2008 2.0, presented by Silverstein Eye Centers, and to get inside the match up, let’s go around the horn…
 
First
Gil Meche is on the hill tonight. Meche leads a Royals team that’s playing some of its best baseball of the season. They are still the hottest team in baseball, winning 10 of their last 11 (along with the Twins). The Royals and their division foes to the far North also share the distinction of the best interleague record in the Majors.
 
With one of their top twirlers on the mound, the Royals are looking for a season series win over the Cards and the positive end to this homestand. Meche’s strikeout numbers, a key to his success, have seen a jump in the last month. He’s punched out 51 batters in his 49 and two thirds innings, including 10 a few weeks back in Arizona. Over his last 11 starts, he has a 3.69 ERA.
 
He’s been solid of late and he will look to continue his run of strong starts tonight in his second career appearance against the Cards.
 
Tomorrow in front of an already sold out crowd, Mitchell Boggs (2-0, 5.40) goes against Kyle Davies (3-0, 3.12). Davies downed St. Louis last week with 7 strong innings of work. As a note to those lucky enough to have tickets, the Royals are asking everyone to be in there seats by 5:45 p.m. for the special pre-game ceremonies of Art Stewart’s Hall of Fame induction. Tomorrow, we’ll talk a little about Art and what he’s meant to this organization and Sunday we’ll have a full recap of the ceremony plus the second installment of Touch ‘em All, this time with Hall of Fame portrait artist John Martin.
 
Then on Sunday for the final game of the series and the nine-game homestand, Braden Looper (9-5, 4.22) draws the Royals daytime dominator, Brian Bannister (7-8, 4.47). Bannister is 5-1 during day games this season and opponents are batting .228 against him under the sun.
 
Second
The Royals offense is here and in gear. They are hitting .278 over the last 13 games with 30 doubles, 2 triples and 15 home runs. Going homerless on Wednesday, the Royals have still hit 30 in their last 24 games and at least one in 10 of their last 13 contests. The team’s 47 extra-base hits over 13 games are tied for fifth in the Majors over that span.
 
Ross Gload, David DeJesus and John Buck all have longer hitting streaks coming into tonight’s game with DeJesus looking add on to his Major League leading .451 average with runners in scoring position. Only one other player (Cleveland’s Casey Blake at .415) in either league is hitting over .400 in that situation right now.

Short
As we mentioned with the Rockies in town earlier this week, Hal McRae, a Royals Hall of Famer, is the Cards hitting coach (McRae wears No. 8 for the Cards but wore No. 11 here in KC)…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Mark Grudzielanek is making a return to the lineup after missing a few games with a sore lower back…Also of note: Jose Guillen is at DH tonight because of some leg trouble which has been bothering him off and on for a while…The Royals on-going chat series will have another installment on Tuesday. Royals’ Senior Director of Scouting, Deric Ladnier, will be online at 3 p.m. CT to take questions from fans.
 

6-23 Diamond of dreams.jpgThird
Our Diamond of Dreams charity event took place last night. We’ll have specific figures as soon as we can about the attendance and the money that was raised for the Dream Factory, but we’d like to thank Dodge, the event’s primary sponsor along with Teva Neuroscience, Sliverstein Eye Centers, VML, Tiffany & Co., Sprint, Swiss Re, Fox Sports Net, HOK, Aramark, Better Ideas, Budweiser, C&C Produce, Glazer’s, Hitchin Post, Larry Moore, Miller Brewing Co., Pepsi, Shotbee Photography, Sysco Foods, The ZEROS, US Food Service, Village Gardens and all of the volunteers who helped. We’ll have a full report and pics up soon, so please check back.
 
Tonight’s Lineup:
DeJesus LF
Aviles SS
Gordon 3B
Guillen DH
Grudzielanek 2B
Teahen RF
Buck C
Gload 1B
Gathright CF
 
Meche P
 
Here’s today’s Official Game Notes.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog) 

Cardinals Week 2.0

I-70.jpgTomorrow the Cardinals invade Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium. It’s going to be another big weekend out at the K and Saturday is nearly a sellout already and both Friday and Sunday’s tickets are going fast.

But before we start getting worked up on this beautiful off day in Kansas City, let’s get a few things straight.
 
Here’s what we know. The Royals and the Twins are the hottest teams in baseball, both having won 10 of their last 11 (note: Minnesota currently trails San Diego in a Thursday matinee, 1-0, in the third inning). The Royals have the best interleague record (12-3 mark) which is half a game better than the Twins entering today.  Yep, you can gloat a little.
 
Trey Hillman rightly brought us back down to earth when he said following last night’s win that it was a “step” and said we need to focus on continuing to take baby steps. He’s right, but today’s an off-day. Time to soak in the success of the past two weeks and look forward to what promises to be a wild weekend here at Kauffman. Let’s fill the K will blue and drown out the red.
 
Let’s get in a quick pick-me-up before we focus in on St. Louis, and go around the horn…
 
First
The Royals have gone 11-2 since June 12, an .846 win percentage. They’ve shaved five and a half games off their division deficit and sit in fourth place, seven games back. We’ve won four series in a row for the first time since June of 2003 and already have clinched a winning mark in June.
 
On top of those four series wins, the Royals have won all five interleague series this season, squaring off against some tough foes including the Florida Marlins, who were in first place at the time back in May and sit just two games back in second now, the Arizona Diamondbacks who currently lead their division, the Wild Card-leading Cardinals, the third-place San Francisco Giants and the defending National League Champion Rockies.
 

6-26 Hoch.jpgSecond
With a low scoring game last night and the longest outing of Luke Hochevar’s career, we want to talk some more pitching. Royals starters have been impressive in interleague play and during this hot stretch. They’ve gone deep into games, averaging 6.2 innings a game during interleague play and 6.1 innings over the last 10. No surprise, they are 11-1 with two no decisions in interleague this season and 8-0 with two no decisions over the last 10 games. Going deep also keeps the bullpen fresh and effective. Just ask opponents how fresh and effective Joakim Soria has been (he has six saves in the last 10 games).
 
Hochevar earned his fifth big league win last night, going eight innings and throwing just 95 pitches. The sinkerballer recorded lot and lots of groundball outs last night, and is now fourth among American League pitchers with at least 13 starts with a 1.97 groundball/fly ratio. To explain that a bit more literally, Hochevar recorded 24 outs last night. He recorded 17 ground outs and three fly outs (along with three strikeouts and a caught stealing). That equals a groundball percentage of 85 (17 out of 20 outs put into play came on the ground).
 
If that was over your head, just remember, the key to Hochevar’s success is to keep the ball down. He’s a sinkerballer and wants groundballs.
 
Short
The Cardinals Albert Pujols came off the disabled list to play for St. Louis today, allowing the former Fort Osage High standout to make a homecoming this weekend…Royals pitchers on the D.L., Leo Nunez and John Bale, might be coming off shortly after the All-Star break, although they still haven’t thrown off the mound yet…Joakim Soria has 21 saves and KC’s pre-All-Star break record is 25 (Jeff Montgomery in 1993)…he has nine saves in the month of June alone…Mr. Clutch, David DeJesus leads the Majors with a .451 batting average with runners in scoring position, 29 points higher than Cleveland’s Casey Blake.
 
Third
The Silverstein Eye Center “Eye”-70 Series is moving west this weekend. To steal a Dodgers’ slogan: “Think Blue.” With three games on the line, we want Kauffman to be coated in blue. Don’t wear you’re white or gray or pink or mauve or whatever Royals jerseys and T-shirts. Opt for the blue alternates. Break out the powder blues, the Gil Meche T-shirt Tuesday shirts from last year. Whatever blue you’ve got, wear it.
 
We swept the Cards for the first time in St. Louis last week and we’re looking to keep it going. The Royals won 2 of 3 last season at Kauffman with a memorable moon-shot by Alex Gordon into the right field fountains. The Royals need just one win to secure a win in the season series after splitting last year. A second sweep this season would put the interleague series at 25-26, making next year very interesting.
 
Like we mentioned yesterday, plenty of promotions going on this weekend and tickets are going fast. Friday is also a silent auction to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation. In honor of Art Stewart being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night, keep an eye out for our second Touch ‘em All interview on this blog, with an exclusive look into John Martin’s world. John is the man who has painted every Royals Hall of Fame portrait to date as well as numerous Royals media guide covers and much more. So look for that right here on Around the Horn.
 
Enjoy the off-day and continue to think blue.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)  

Brooms Back For Second Sweeping?

6-25 Guillen.jpgFor the second time in a week, we’re looking to get out the brooms. And for the second time in a week, we’re looking to win our fifth in a row.

Luke Hochevar started this nice little run (9-1 in last 10 games) when he squared off against Randy Johnson in Arizona on June 14. Hochevar toes the rubber tonight, looking to keep the Royals winning ways going. To see how we got here, let’s go around the horn…

First
The offense is on a tear lately, but we’ve talked about that plenty in this space, although we’ll never get tired of it. One thing we also can never talk about enough – and Dayton Moore would agree with this – is great pitching. 

Zack Greinke wasn’t nice to the Rockies last night. He tied a career high when he whiffed 10 and walked none. That’s what happens when he’s on. He throws strikes and makes the hitters work to get on base. Greinke threw 99 pitches last night. Only 29 were balls. Greinke succeeded and he picked up his seventh win of the season because of it. True, his teammates gave him five runs while he was in the game and added another two for insurance. 6-25 Greinke.jpgBut Greinke made sure they wouldn’t need to do too much, picking up his 12th “quality start” of the season. Gil Meche is the only other Royals starter to punch out 10 in a game this season, which was on June 15 in Arizona and was game two of the Royals current 9-1 run. Greinke is the only Royals’ starter to do it last season. In fact, since 2003, the Royals have just five games in which a starter struck out 10 since 2003. Greinke’s got two.

What’s maybe more interesting, is that Greinke did it in six innings, as 10 of his 18 outs recorded were punchies. Meche went seven during his 10 K day and Greinke went eight last year when he hit double-digits.

Greinke has 84 K’s this season in 106 innings with only 33 walks. Last night he earned his seventh win, which ties his 2007 totals and is one shy of his career high from 2004, his rookie season. His career high for strikeouts is 114 in 2005.

While strikeouts don’t guarantee wins, they sure help. They can kill rallies and give a boost to the crowd at the same time. Greinke’s seven wins put him in a tie with Brian Bannister for the team lead. Bannister is a different kind of pitcher, a guy who pitches to contact, so his K numbers aren’t as high as Greinke. But for No. 23, lots of strikeout numbers has transferred to a good deal of wins this season.

Second
Speaking of pitching, the team has an ERA of 3.08 over the last ten games and is averaging 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, including last night’s new season high 14 K’s as a staff. Despite the overall good pitching, Dayton Moore has shown he is not going to leave well enough alone and be content with good pitching. Since Sunday, the Royals have called up Joel Peralta, purchased the contract of Horacio Ramirez and claimed Robinson Tejeda from the Rangers.

Tejeda (Tuh-HAY-duh), will be in uniform tonight, wearing No. 51. The new Royals pitcher is a 6-3, 230 pound right-hander with a cannon for an arm and Major League experience with the Phillies and Rangers. Trey Hillman calls him simply “a power arm.” He has previous starting experience in the Majors and had four relief appearances with the Rangers earlier this season.

Yasuhiko Yabuta was optioned as the corresponding roster move. Yabuta will report to Omaha. Hillman said he just needs to work on getting back to where he was a month ago when he had 10 appearances in which he only allowed one run over 9.2 innings for a 0.93 ERA. Opposing hitters were batting just .176 against him during that period. 

Short
Lefty Ron Mahay, an unsung hero this year in the ‘pen, has not allowed a run in his last eight appearances, totaling 9.1 scoreless innings…Mike Aviles, David DeJesus and Ross Gload all have hitting streaks of four games or more with DeJesus reaching double digits last night with 10 straight…Aviles has also recorded at least one RBI in five straight…With their 11th win of the season over a National League team yesterday, the Royals secured their best interleague record in team history…The only game the Royals have lost over their last 10 was last Friday, which also happens to be the only game they haven’t homered in during their last 10…Note from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Yasuhiko Yabuta, who was optioned today, has no timetable on when he may return. The Royals don’t set timetables on recalls…The Kansas City Star‘s Bob Dutton, as president of the BBWAA, has been named one of the official scorers for the 2008 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. Congrats to Bob!

Third
This weekend is a big one. It’s Cardinals week 2.0. The festivities here at the K really get started with the sold out Diamond of Dreams charity extravaganza tomorrow and then the Redbirds come to town Friday. Silverstein Eye Centers, sponsor of the “Eye-70″ series (get it?), will be giving out a Rally Racket on Saturday, which is also the day Art Stewart will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame. Sunday children can pick up free admission to the new Coco Key Water Park just across I-70 from the ballpark in the Sheraton.

Tickets are going fast for the “Eye”-70 Series. The Royals are hot and the Cardinals always draw well, so get ‘em now so you don’t miss out.

Lineup:
DeJesus RF
Aviles SS
Gordon 3B
Guillen LF           
Teahen DH
Buck C
Gload 1B
Callaspo 2B
Gathright CF

Hochevar P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)

Kauffman Stadium policy on the removal of fans

We have received numerous calls regarding the removal of a fan from Kauffman Stadium during the ninth inning of last night’s game. With this in mind, we’d like to briefly touch on fan decorum in order to keep Kauffman Stadium one of the best and most fan-friendly venues in all of baseball.

Security personnel have the jurisdiction to remove or relocate any fan who:

- consistently uses foul language
- throws any objects onto the field of play
- interferes with a ball still in play
- creates a disturbance that hampers the enjoyment of fans in the surrounding areas

The Royals feel that the game of baseball is to be enjoyed by fans young and old. We encourage fans to be boisterous in cheering for the Royals, but always be cognizant of others. The Royals appreciate your continued cooperation on this matter and hope to see you out at Kauffman Stadium in the very near future.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog) 

Baseball is fun(damental)

6-24 Teahen-Aviles.jpgAs the Royals continue to roll, they continue to work on fundamentals. Back in Spring Training, Trey Hillman established that the basics are what this team would focus on, doing the little things right.

To find out what little things the Royals are doing now and how they are contributing to their current run of success, we go around the horn…

First
Two plays stand out from last night’s game that help illustrate that point. Up by three, Miguel Olivo smashed a double into the right field corner, driving home Jose Guillen who was charging hard from second. Olivo beat the throw from Matt Holliday with a slide into second. The hit ended an 0-for-21 slide for the Royals catcher. What was the key of the at bat? Olivo saw 10 pitches. Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis had nothing new left to throw to Olivo. So he threw a pitch 6-24 Gordo.jpgOlivo had already seen and Olivo made him pay. Francis left the game and the Royals continued to roll.

Alex Gordon deserves some props for some solid defense in the top half of the fifth. Gordon was able to turn two by simply being aware of the runner on base. Chris Iannetta was on third and Willy Taveras hit a hard bouncer straight at Gordon. Iannetta froze, like most players would, to see where the ball was going. By the time he started to turn, Gordon had quickly applied the tag and fired the ball across to first baseman Ross Gload. Gordon helped out his pitcher Brian Bannister hold down the damage and quickly put the Royals in a more manageable situation with two outs and one runner on base.

Both plays were small in comparison to the 8-4 final score, but take them away and who knows what might have happened.

Second
The team is having fun right now. Of course, winning will do that. But in the Royals’ eighth, Ross Gload hit his first homer since the beginning of September last year. The bench let him know when he got back. Normally the home run hitter finds a dugout full of high-fives awaiting his return. Gload found silence and no one really paying attention to him. The whole bench stiffed him and he was left hanging. But only for a few seconds. The team burst into laughter and Gload got his credit.

Today after a regular pitcher’s fielding practice (PFP) session, about 10 players along with Trey Hillman and Bob McClure started playing a quick-throw game of catch. “The Play-Catch” drill, as MLB.com reported earlier this season, is designed to work on the most basic fundamentals of the game, throwing and catching the baseball. Players scatter around the infield dirt and fire the ball to one-another as quickly as possible. There is no set pattern to throw in. The only rules, don’t drop it, throw as quickly as you can and try not to hit the guy standing on the mound in the head. The infielders played it earlier this season and went nine or 10 minutes without dropping the ball in the fast-paced game.

Today was the pitchers turn. They didn’t last as long, but they seemed to be having fun. And so were the onlookers. Catcher John Buck could be seen just smiling and shaking his head watching the drill near the first base line, while Miguel Olivo stood near the dugout counting
6-24 Hoch_Closeup.jpgas each ball was caught and laughing as the pitchers scooped and fired. Infielders, for the most part, try not to put any movement on the balls they throw. However, pitchers want life. That can make a throwing drill a little complicated when 6-foot-5 sinkerballer Luke Hochevar lets one fly. Trey Hillman bent and caught one at his ankles and with a smile, yelled “Hoch is throwin’ sinkers over here.”

Short
Over the last ten games, the Royals are 8-2…It’s no coincidence that David DeJesus and Mike Aviles continue to be an offensive force, scoring 18 runs, totaling 28 hits (15 for extra bases, with five being homers) and knocking in 20…The Royals claimed right-handed pitcher Robinson Tejeda off waivers from the Rangers this afternoon, moving John Bale to the 60-day D.L. to make room on the 40-man with another move imminent on the 25-man when Tejeda joins the team, probably tomorrow…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-press conference: Mark Grudzielanek is still out with a sore back and is day-to-day…Trey’s assessment on the Royals’ newest pitcher in two words: power arm.

6-24 Soria cover.JPGThird
We covered Joakim Soria yesterday but failed to mention that he’s a “cover boy”. Soria is on the cover of Royals Gameday Magazine from June 20 to July 23. Gameday is sold throughout Kauffman Stadium or by calling 1-800-6-Royals and is a monthly 128-page magazine containing insight and inside information on the Royals.

Tonight is the middle game of the Rockies series and a special note should be made that this is their first-ever trip to Kansas City. As we mentioned yesterday, manager Clint Hurdle and bench coach Jamie Quirk are Royals alums. Quirk is a Kansas City resident in the offseason and Hurdle is making his first trip back to K.C. since 1981.

We bring them up again because Quirk is also making an appearance in Gameday this month, under the feature about a Royals alum.

Question for you all tonight… Which Royals alum are you curious about?

Lineup: 

DeJesus CF
Aviles 2B
Gordon 3B
Guillen LF
Olivo DH
Teahen RF
Buck C
Gload 1B
Pena SS

Greinke P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)

 

Game two versus Colorado (Plus a little waiver wire action)

Today’s Lineup straight from Trey Hillman to you… only five and a half hours before game time: 

DeJesus CF
Aviles 2B
Gordon 3B
Guillen LF
Olivo DH
Teahen RF
Buck C
Gload 1B
Pena SS

Greinke P

Plus: The Royals claimed 26-year-old pitcher Robinson Tejeda (Tuh-HAY-duh) off waivers from the Texas Rangers today. Injured pitcher John Bale was moved to the 60-day D.L. to accomodate Tejeda on the Royals 40-man roster. The righty is not expected to join the Royals for tonight’s game, but a corresponding roster move on the 25-man roster will be made.

Today’s Official Game Notes.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)

Rollin' Royals

Sorry for the late post, but time slipped away. As it is, the Royals are leading 4-0 thanks to a David DeJesus triple, 6-23 Aviles signing.JPGa Mike Aviles double and a Mark Teahen homer. Which flows perfectly into what we want to talk about tonight.

The Royals are playing some good baseball right now. They’ve won eight of their last ten and picked up three straight series wins in the process, including the sweep in St. Louis. The Royals are 9-3 against the National League this season after going 10-8 the last two seasons. We still have six games against the Senior Circuit.

Over this hot stretch the Royals have cut 4 games off their division deficit and with that we’re going to go around the horn…

First
Yesterday was a wild one. As we noted in this space, the Royals came back from a seven-run deficit. Only seven other times in team history have they been able to do that (six seven-run comebacks and a nine-run revival back in 1979).

On the other end of that stick, the Giants suffered their first seven-run collapse in eight years. The only reason, we even bring this up is because of the interesting coincidence involved here. In 2000, the Giants blew a pair of seven-run leads during the same week. One on June 28, a 17-13 final, and one on June 22, an 11-10 final. Yesterday’s date was, in fact, June 22, 2008. And the score, 11-10. Keep your eyes on the score tickers this weekend, the Giants play in Oakland on June 28, 2008.

Second
Let’s talk about Joakim Soria. The kid is lights out. He’s picked up five saves during the Royals hot stretch. 

6-23 Soria.JPGHe’s 20-of-21 in save situations and has a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings. That means only 5 runs have crossed the plate with Soria on the mound. That’s crazy-good. He’s got 35 punch outs. Normally strikeouts are compared to walks (Soria has walked only nine). Let’s try hits. Soria has allowed 18 hits. Opponents are hitting just .154 against him.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a story today about how they are happy the Padres left Soria off their 40-man roster before last season’s Rule 5 Draft. Well, so are we. Yesterday he became the ninth pitcher in team history to have a season with 20 or more saves (the 22nd time). And the last Royal to have 20 or more saves before the All-Star break? 2003 All-Star Mike MacDougal had 24. The Royals pre-All-Star record is 25 by Jeff Montgomery in 1993. We’ll say this, Soria’s got more than a chance to break it.

Short
We’re welcoming two Royals’ alumni back during this series with Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle and Bench Coach Jamie Quirk in the visiting dugout this week in Kansas City…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Mark Grudzielanek is out tonight with a sore back and may be ready to go tomorrow…Also of note: Joel Peralta is back up from Omaha and Jeff Fulchino has been optioned…Hillman said: Fulchino did his job and he was not optioned because of poor performance, but after using so many pitchers in yesterday’s wild win, the bullpen was a little thin and needed help…Peralta is 1-0 with two saves and a 0.00 ERA (18.2 scoreless innings, 9 hits, 6 walks and 19 K’s) in 10 games over his two stints with Omaha .

Third
The Community Relations department has been busy. Today they hosted a PLAY Clinic on the field here at “the K”. The event was co-hosted by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainer’s Society. With a goal of promoting exercise and a healthy lifestyle, members of the Royals Sports Medicine staff led the event, focusing on baseball fundamentals. They were joined by David DeJesus, Jose Guillen, Jimmy Gobble and Trey Hillman.

6-23 Diamond of dreams.jpgAlso this week, the Royals will host a few baseball clinics and has big plans for the Royals off day. 
 Thursday will be the Diamond of Dreams event, which will be held on the field at Kauffman. Royals Charities will be raising money for The Dream Factory. Drinks, appetizers, player appearances, memorabilia auctions and a live band playing at second base are among the many events planned.

We’ll definitely have more on this event as the week progresses. And don’t forget about the Cardinals series this week. (How could you?) Plenty will be going on this weekend with giveaways, more silent auctions and Art Stewart’s Hall-of-Fame induction. Around the Horn will have an interview with the man behind all of the portraits you see in the Hall-of-Fame.

 

Here’s some of the PLAY Photos from our good friend, team photographer Chris Vleisides.
6-23 PLAY.JPG 
It’s the whole group.

6-23 Guillen.JPGWho better to give tips about a swing then the Royals home run leader and A.L. leader in doubles, Jose Guillen.

6-23 Frank.JPGRoyals Trainer Frank Kyte is leading some exercises.

 
6-23 DeJesus and Guillen.JPG

David DeJesus and Jose Guillen look on during a hitting drill.

 

Tonight’s Lineup with highlights from yesterday:
DeJesus CF
Aviles 2B
Gordon 3B
Guillen DH
Olivo C
Teahen RF
Gload 1B
German LF
Pena SS

Bannister P

Here’s today’s Official Game Notes. Also don’t miss out on a re-cap of yesterday’s Negro Leagues throwbacks or Around the Horn’s interview with Giants/ESPN broadcaster Jon Miller.

RSS Feed (Subscribe to this blog)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers