The Kickoff of a Rock 'n' Roll Homestand

7-21 vs Det.jpgThe Detroit “Rock City” Tigers are here. And this week, we’ll welcome Emerson Drive back for a full-length concert after their gig singing the National Anthem on Opening Day.

The Royals are rollin’ a bit after their first series win in Chi-town since 2003. And they are poised to take on the Tigers for three followed by a four-game set against the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. To gear up for this homestand, let’s go Around the Horn…

First
It’s been said by people smarter than us that pitching is the currency of baseball. And if so, the Royals just got a little richer. Power-arm Leo Nunez, the 175-pounder with mid 90s stuff, is off the Disabled List and back in the bullpen, shoring up one of the more solid parts of the Club. Nunez made five rehab appearances after being placed on the D.L. May 29th. In his final appearance on Friday for Double A Northwest Arkansas, he pitched two hitless innings, striking out two.

Nunez brings a 1.71 ERA to the pen, joining Ron Mahay’s 1.78, Horacio Ramirez’s 1.15, Ramon Ramirez’s 37-21 Chicago.jpg.06 and closer Joakim Soria’s 1.43. The K.C. pen as a collective whole holds a 3.76 ERA in 296 and 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting only .237 against Royals relievers.

The other side of Nunez’s activation is that Joel Peralta was optioned to Omaha. Manager Trey Hillman said that he was just the odd man out, someone who has options remaining. Hillman stressed in his pre-game meeting with the press that Peralta was impressive in his last outing and he’s starting to look like the pitcher he heard about when he first came to Kansas City – the trusted man out of the pen who led all relievers with 87 and 2/3 innings in 2007 and ended the season with 3.80 ERA, the lowest total of his Major League career.

Second
If Around the Horn mentions Jose Guillen, it’s usually because of his offensive numbers, but manager Trey Hillman was asked today if he thinks Guillen’s defense is underrated. He said it probably is and shouldn’t be.

7-1 Guillen.jpgAround the Horn checked the numbers. He’s currently tied for seventh in the American League with seven outfield assists (the A.L. lead is 10 by Ben Francisco). Guillen picked up number seven after gunning down Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski yesterday in the eighth. Pierzynski would have tied the game but instead he was an easy out for catcher Miguel Olivo. Guillen’s throw one-hopped Olivo and beat Pierzynski by several feet.

Now defense is hard to judge. And outfield assist numbers can be a jaded number. Mark Teahen was second in the A.L. with 17 last year, but has only four this season. Why? Because baserunners and coaches figured out they can’t run as often. Guillen on the other hand has always had a reputation for having a rocket of an arm and he’s still among the leaders.

Hillman also applauded Guillen’s reads on fly balls (this video is from the Tampa series) saying the slugger probably takes fewer false steps than any outfielder on the team.

Short
Mike Aviles is riding a career high 10-game hitting streak in which he’s batted .432…Billy Butler homered Friday and Saturday, the first time he’d ever homered in back-to-back games…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: Look for Leo Nunez to ease back into his bullpen role as an eighth inning guy. He’ll probably be used in earlier innings at first…Also from Hillman: Horacio Ramirez is not available today unless absolutely necessary because he pitched on back-to-back days and threw multiple innings in both games.


7-21 Girls.jpgThird
Lots of news on the television and promotions side. This homestand is packed with specials, starting with 20,000 powder blue Frank White tees to be given out tomorrow, Ink College Night on Wednesday, Girls Night Out on Thursday, Fireworks and Buck Night on Friday, Dan Quisenberry Bobbleheads and Emerson Drive playing on Saturday and finally the Sprint Fun Run and Autograph afternoon on Sunday.

The Royals announced earlier this month that the August 2 game versus the White Sox is being moved from a 6:10 start to a 2:55 game to accommodate national coverage on FOX. Because of the loss of a TV date, FSN Kansas City is adding September 18 versus Seattle. The game time for that game is 1:10, with Royals Live starting at 12:30.

Extra Innnings
The Royals are working on a number of things for Military Appreciation Day, which is August 2. Around the Horn would like to request some help from our faithful here at mlblogs.com. If you have pictures of loved ones overseas wearing Royals gear, you can send them to blog@royals.com and we might be able to use them for a presentation during that day’s events. If not, Around the Horn is also working on a special post for that day and may post some of these photos right here. Please include the name of the person, hometown, where they are stationed and what branch they are in.

Thanks for your help.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

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

Hochevar P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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