Baseball is fun(damental)
As 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…
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 Olivo 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.
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
as 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.”
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.
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?
Today’s Official Game Notes.