Good afternoon Royals fans. Hope all is well today and you’re ready for a nice long Labor Day weekend. Around the Horn is ready for some baseball after the off day. We’ve got three in Detroit and then another off day Monday before the Royals open their second to last home stand.
Since there wasn’t any baseball for us yesterday, today is the perfect opportunity to give you a look inside a place many people don’t get to see. Today, we’re going inside the Royals Clubhouse. We didn’t want to intrude on the team’s privacy too much so we waited for the team to hit the road before we snapped our photos. So here we go…
The first picture is a general overall shot of the clubhouse. For the most part position players are along one row and pitchers on the opposite side of the clubhouse. To kill time, you’ll often find the guys playing cards at the tables in the center.
Here’s a close up view of Alex Gordon’s locker. He’s got a few pairs of spikes, some turf shoes and some regular workout shoes in there. And you can see the pile of batting gloves.
The trainer’s room is a place a lot of guys will go when they get to the park. Many get massages before the game, after BP or after the game. Despite the recent rash of injuries, the team has been healthy this season and that’s a credit to Head Athletic Trainer Nick Swartz and his staff.
These slots are the player mailboxes. Now you might be saying, there’s not really any mail in those boxes. Well, Around the Horn was informed after taking this picture that all of their fan mail had been moved to the actual boxes which sit below the mail boxes on the wall.
Each box is numbered, so you can see the No. 4 which is sitting on top of another box. Yep, that’s Alex Gordon’s and yes he needs two boxes. He gets a lot of fan mail. Apparently he’s popular in Nebraska.
You can also clearly see David DeJesus (No. 9), Alberto Callaspo (No. 13) and John Buck (No. 14).
It’s a neat room. Photos of former players adorn the walls, many of them with their kids or candid shots of them just hanging out. There’s a cooler with plenty of cold drinks for them to relax with before going out to the field. The recliners are also vibrating, so you’ll often see pitchers using them and collecting themselves before starts.
The food room is right next door to the lounge and is a heavily trafficked area. Often times, the players will eat two or three meals a day at the stadium. So having a full service room is a nice way to monitor what they are eating, making sure its healthy and a place for them to grab a bite to eat anytime they need a little extra.
Although most of the food in the food room is healthy, a little snack never hurt anybody. And when you’re trying to serve 25 guys plus a handful of coaches, you never know what they might have a sweet tooth for, so they’ve got a little of everything in there. It’s almost like a candy store.
At the end of the hallway joining the Clubhouse to the players lounge, food room, trainer’s room and weight room, this stands. It’s a tribute to two of the greatest Royals of all-time and the only two players with retired numbers, George Brett and Frank White.
Hopefully its a bit of an inspiration too, to see the two greats who once lockered where the likes of DeJesus and Gordon and Gil Meche and Zack Greinke do.
Just before heading to the dugout, an essential room is always buzzing. Mark Topping, the Royals Video Coordinator and his staff work diligently to make sure all the high tech needs of a baseball team competing in the 21st century are met.
This state of the art room is decked out with computer monitors and TV screens everywhere.
It’s all to allow the players and staff to watch or review anything that might help, be it a previous at-bat, an opposing pitcher or a minor leaguer in the Royals system.
The room was one of the first pieces to be re-done as a part of the renovation process.
We had to take a picture of this. Around the Horn had never seen so many DirecTV boxes in one place. Each one is responsible for receiving a game to be recorded and each is marked with a Post-It note.
Everything from the high school prospect games, collegiate games, minor league games or even the Colorado-San Diego game tonight is recorder through this bank.
Zack Greinke was solid last night, despite a high pitch count early. He struck out five more and is in fifth place in the American League. Greinke’s 151 strikeouts top his own career high by 37 and he’s sure to down a few more with a little more than month left. He also produced his 18th quality start, which is tied for third in the A.L. and is five more than his previous career high.
The team took their annual photo today. Keep an eye out in September. The team is planning on giving out a copy of the photo in some fashion.
Does Gathright need a nickname too?
The spectacular Joey Gathright made another remarkable catch in center last night. Gathright streaked across center and made a phenomenal leaping catch on a ball that was decidedly not a can of corn. It made the top plays and was the No. 1 Web Gem on Baseball Tonight. He just keeps racking them up in center.
Royals first round pick Eric Hosmer played his second game last night in Idaho Falls. The newest Chukar went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, a double, a run batted in and a run scored. His season stats after two games: .500 average (3-for-6) with two doubles, two RBI, two runs scored, three walks, one strikeout, a .700 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .833. He’s only played two, but he’s carrying a big stick so far. The Chukars have 10 games left.
2007 first rounder Mike Moustakas parked his Midwest League-leading 22nd homer of the season last night. Apparently the blast would have been over 400 feet had it not hit the top of the Burlington Community Field Scoreboard. Thanks to wheelerrob, a loyal ATH reader for that info from Burlington!
Another Royals bat with some sock in it right now is Miguel Olivo’s. Olivo is starting again today. Manager Trey Hillman said he likes the way Olivo is working behind the plate right now and he likes what Olivo’s bat brings to the lineup. He smacked a double that short hopped the left field wall last night. Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre said that on most nights that ball probably would have carried out. Regardless, Olivo hit the ball hard and Billy Butler scored from first on the play. Keep any eye out tonight since Miggy loves to swing against Southpaws.
Hardware coming soon
Like we’ve mentioned the past couple days, the minor league seasons are winding down. With that, the minor league awards for Pitcher and Player of the Year will be announced within the next few weeks.
Future(s) coming soon
Yes, that seems redundant, but the Royals’ future is coming to Kauffman Stadium soon. September 19, in fact. That Friday night game versus the White Sox has been tabbed as Futures’ Night. Several of the top players in the Royals system will be on hand for you to meet and get autographs from.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
The Minor League seasons are winding down. But with the end of the season come a lot of things that shed hope on the future. Yesterday we mentioned some of the post-season awards which have already been won, but today we have two more things to celebrate down on the farm.
September is next week and that means September call-ups aren’t too far away, and with so much success going on in the minors, we’re not even going speculate what might happen, but we can talk about the positives in the system right now. To do that, let’s go Around the Horn…
The first moment of celebration for the organization was the debut of Eric Hosmer (wearing No. 21) last night at Idaho Falls. Hosmer was hit in his first professional at-bat – as if to say welcome to the pros Mr. No. 3 overall pick. But Hosmer showed some of what earned him his draft position, ending the night 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored, a run batted in and a walk. Hosmer’s Chukars mustered 10 hits, but could not hold off the Raptors. ATH expects he’ll be back out there again tonight as Idaho Falls finishes its season series with Ogden. The Chukars have 10 games left after tonight, a five-game series versus the Orem Owls through the weekend and then five game in Casper to face the Ghosts (we still love that Casper nickname).
The other big celebration for the organization includes another First Rounder. 2007 first round pick Mike Moustakas and his Burlington Bees are in the playoffs. They officially entered the postseason on Sunday despite losing. They are still in contention for their division title but are guaranteed a playoff spot and a postseason series starting next week in Burlington. Moustakas leads the Midwest League with 21 homers, is second in total bases, sixth in slugging and is in the top 10 in hits and runs.
While we’re mentioning high draft picks, this year’s sandwich pick is tearing up his first professional assignment. Michael Montgomery is throwing very well in Surprise for the Surprise Royals. He owns a 1.91 ERA in 37.2 innings and has 31 strikeouts to 11 walks. Opponents are hitting just .217 off him.
Finally, yesterday we devoted some space to Kila Ka’aihue, the slugging first baseman who won Double-A Texas League Player of the Year despite playing the last month in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The pronunciation of the Hawaiian’s name has been a question mark among several media outlets. Well, we’ve got an official ruling on how to say his name. It’s Kila (KEY-luh) Ka’aihue (Ky-uh-HOO-A). Or, you can call him K.K., which is what manager Trey Hillman and the baseball operations people call him. And for those curious on his status because he left Sunday’s game after being hit by a pitch, Ka’aihue hit a double in going 1-for-3 with a run and two walks last night. He has walked 98 times this season and struck out 62 times and owns a .462 on-base percentage with a .635 slugging (combined Double-A and Triple-A stats).
Manager Trey Hillman has his rotation set – hopefully – for the remainder of the season. The current quintet is locked in to finish out. Tonight’s starter is Zack Greinke, with Brian Bannister throwing tomorrow. Kyle Davies will open the Detroit series on Friday followed by Brandon Duckworth on Saturday and last night’s starter Gil Meche draws Sunday’s assignment.
Hillman said he’s comfortable with the rotation as it is. He said last night Meche just didn’t have the same he has of late and it probably wouldn’t have mattered as much if he were facing a lesser hitting team. Hillman said tonight, Greinke needs to have all of his pitches working to have success.
This group has combined to start all but 35 games for the Boys in Blue this season. Duckworth is the low man on the totem pole, making his first start last Sunday, while Gil Meche leads the team with 28 starts.
Hillman said Kip Wells is probably stretched out the most in the bullpen and would merit the emergency start if need be, but that’s without knowing exactly which players will get the September 1 call-up. Triple-A Omaha finishes its season on Monday the 1st, an off-day for the big league Royals.
Currently nine players on the O-Royals are on the 40-man roster. Of those players, five are pitchers and four have spent time in the Majors this season (Jimmy Gobble – 31 MLB games, Tyler Lumsden – no MLB experience, Neal Musser – one MLB game, Josh Newman – four MLB games and Carlos Rosa – two MLB games). Although Rosa is on the 7-day D.L. and Gobble is finishing a rehab assignment.
Double-A Northwest Arkansas, which is still in the playoff hunt, has two players on the Royals 40-man. The lone pitcher is Julio Pimentel, who threw a scoreless inning in the 2008 MLB Futures game during the All-Star festivities. But with the Naturals entering today’s play tied for the division lead and fighting for the post-season, Around the Horn doubts the Royals will subtract any players from their roster on Sept. 1.
Two other quick Naturals notes: Pitching Coach Larry Carter was selected as the Texas League coach of the year…Veteran Minor Leaguer Cory Aldridge drove in seven yesterday with two homers.
David DeJesus knocked in his 58th run last night, tying his career high set last season…10 of John Buck’s last 15 hits have been for extra bases including six doubles, a triple and three homers…Alberto Callaspo collected his first RBI since before going on the Disabled List in late June. His last RBI was June 22 versus San Francisco…From Trey Hillman: He does not expect Alex Gordon back anytime soon. He told Gordon there is no timetable because there is no precedent for how the third baseman heals from an injury of this type since he’s never had one…Also from Hillman: With Gordon out and veteran Mark Grudzielanek out, Callaspo will see a the majority of the time at second…Last word from Hillman: He thinks instant replay will be a good addition and will take pressure off of umpire crews. He respects the umpire’s way of life, living on the road for the sixth-month season and anything that can help alleviate their stress and is good for the game is a good thing in Hillman’s opinion.
Yesterday we mentioned in passing the Hot Dog Derby contest. You, yes you, can sign up to be either Relish, Mustard or Ketchup. If you’d like the opportunity to don the color of your condiment, you can do so right now, all you have to do is enter.
The last weekend of the season, nine lucky fans will become hot dogs and compete for the ultimate glory – winning the Kauffman Stadium Hot Dog Derby Race. September 19-21 is your chance.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Why? Powder blue symbolized the World Series, the playoffs and the glory of the franchise.
This year is a “New. Blue. Tradition.” And we can assure you, something good is going on with this color. We’ve decided that today we’re going to chat about light blue, so let’s go Around the Horn…
Mark Teahen and Jose Guillen powered the powder blue-clad Royals to a win yesterday. Light blue is apparently a strong statement for the Royals and we’re not talking about just fashion. Teahen had a big role in the Royals’ last blue beatdown. He scored the winning run on Tony Pena’s walk-off single in extras versus the Twins. And yesterday he provided again, knocking in three.
Guillen apparently likes blue as well, as he’s contributed 12 homers during day games (not all of those have been at home), including his monster shot into the construction area in left during the second inning (if you haven’t been paying attention and missed Around the Horn’s renovation update a few weeks back, that ball will be a souvenir next year).
The powder blue jerseys were set to be alternates. They were planned to be worn just on Sundays. But they became a home day game staple and have been on the backs of the Boys in Blue for every game under the sun minus the home opener. And what have they done in them? 11wins. 5 losses. Yep. The Royals are 11-5 wearing powder blue.
Those jerseys have provided some memorable moments too from the moment they debuted in their lone night game back on April 12… including the first home run of Mike Aviles career, Pena’s walk-off winner and back-to-back 19 hit attacks versus the White Sox, one of which was showcased on the FOX national broadcast.
Royals fans have been clamoring about Kila Ka’aihue all season. Now that the end is near for the Minor Leagues, the Hawaiian is seeing some of the positives from his monster season. He was named Texas League Player of the Year today in a vote by managers, beat writers and play-by-play announcers. In case you forgot, Ka’aihue was promoted to Triple-A about a month ago. He was that good.
His 26 home runs still lead the Texas League (he’s up by three) and his 80 walks are tied for the lead entering today’s play. As Billy Butler (a former Texas League batting champ) might say and did while he was in the Texas League, Ka’aihue raked this season. He compiled 79 RBI and scored 64 runs in 91 games with a .463 on-base percentage and a .624 slugging percentage. With Triple-A Omaha, Ka’aihue hasn’t missed a beat. Hitting .341, he has nine homers and 17 RBI in 25 games.
Dan Cortes, 9-4 with a 3.98 ERA was also named to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star Team. Cortes’ nine wins are tied for the most in the league and he’s fifth with 106 Ks. He’s gone 7-1 since the All-Star break and is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts this month.
Alex Gordon is also a former Texas League Player of the Year, taking that title in 2006…Brandon Duckworth’s win yesterday was his first as a starter since June 24, 2006 and his first win in the Majors since September 25, 2007…Duckworth was the 15th different Royal to record a win this season…Robinson Tejeda’s August numbers: He is averaging 12.4 K’s per nine innings and opponents are hitting just .093 against him….Mike Aviles is hitting .448 during his current seven-game hitting streak…The Royals are 12-4 during day games at home…12-4 is also the Royals record when Jose Guillen homers.
With three left this week/this month, the Royals home dates are dwindling down. Just four clubs come to town in September and only 13 games are slated to be played before we close our doors…until the Grand Re-Opening event next April!
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Today’s lineup: Brandon Duckworth is making his first start in the Majors since 2007. So far this season in Omaha, Duckworth has gone 5-11 with a 4.75 ERA…Lefty Josh Newman was optioned to make room for Duckworth on the 25-man roster..Luke Hochevar was placed on the 60-day Disabled List to make room on the 40-man roster. With a little more than a month left and just 32 games, including today, Hochevar’s season is done.
The big club has a lot going on as well. Injuries are plaguing the roster. To take a look at the stories and more, let’s go Around the Horn…
The No. 3 overall pick of the 2008 June Free Agent Draft displayed a little bit of why he merited such a high honor today. Back in June, the Royals tabbed Eric Hosmer, a 6’4″, 215-pound first baseman from American Heritage High in Plantation, Florida. The left-handed hitting and throwing slugger was considered the best high school power bat in the draft.
Exactly one week ago, Hosmer inked his deal with the Royals and today he met the media. Hosmer started his day at the K with a 3:30 press conference. With General Manager Dayton Moore, Senior Director-Scouting Deric Ladnier and Assist. GM-Player Personnel and Scouting J.J. Picollo by his side, Hosmer fielded questions smoothly. He talked about his decision whether to sign or go to college. Ultimately, it came down to his drive to play – a dream he’s worked on for a long time. He was asked about the wood bat. Hosmer admitted it will be an adjustment, but they aren’t foreign to him. He took some batting practice with them in high school. And he was asked about playing for the Midland (Ohio) Redskins, an amateur team in the Connie Mack League which he made a commitment to and felt he needed to fulfill.
Once the press conference was over, Hosmer was taken into the Royals clubhouse. He was next seen emerging from the Royals dugout, wearing a blue batting practice jersey complete with No. 25 and his name on the back. Traditional baseball fans will be happy to note that he wore his socks high. After stretching, Hosmer took some hacks in the batting cage on the field. He was in the first group, trading turns with Jose Guillen, Ross Gload and Joey Gathright. He took a regular B.P. – laying down bunts, working all fields and depositing one ball into the fountains and several more over the wall.
After the workout, he made the rounds. It was an Eric Hosmer overload. First he chatted with Joel Goldberg for FSN-KC’s Royals Live pregame show. Then he talked with Steve Stewart for the Royals Radio Network’s pregame show. And finally, Marty Wall of 610 Sports, the flagship station for RRN, interviewed Hosmer.
Tomorrow will be another long day for the First Rounder. He’s got a ticket to Idaho Falls (actually the team opens a three game series against the Ogden Raptors tonight) to start his professional career as a Chukar. Moore said in an interview shortly after the signing that Hosmer’s assignment to the short season Rookie League instead of the Arizona League, a place most high school selections go, is a credit to his ability.
Injuries have riddled the 25-man roster as of late. Within the last week, Ron Mahay has battled a foot injury, Luke Hochevar suffered a rib contusion, Mitch Maier was struck in the face by a pitch and yesterday Alex Gordon left during the fifth inning versus the Indians.
Gordon and Mahay are headed to the Disabled List. Gordon was originally listed as day-to-day when removed from yesterday’s game. But a muscle tear has been found in Gordon’s upper right leg (we’ll have more on this when we get the details). Manager Trey Hillman said the pain Gordon was experiencing was severe but the second-year third baseman wanted to take his next at-bat. Instead he was removed from the game after the fourth and examined, which is when the tear was found. He is expected to be out for several weeks.
Mahay, on the other hand, had pitched just once over the last 12 games and was be placed on the D.L. retroactive to August 16. His case of plantar fasciitis, a bruise to the tendons which spread weight out among the heel and ball of the foot, is still bothering him. Kyle Davies is being called up from Omaha and will start tomorrow’s game, filling in half of the two-slot hole in the rotation. Sunday’s starter is still not finalized.
The Royals infielders worked on some fundamentals before today’s game…That group included Mark Teahen, who is filling in at third base – his old position – in Alex Gordon’s absence. Teahen is starting at third tonight and has not started a regular season game at the hot corner since 2006…Fresh off the D.L., Joey Gathright is making his return to the Royals lineup for the first time since July 23 versus Detroit…From Trey Hillman’s Press Conference: He doesn’t blame injuries for the team’s play…Tonight is the first night of the Kauffman Stadium reduction. Only 27,000 seats are available per game through the end of the season due to renovations.
Tomorrow is Christian Family Night. A concert will follow the game, featuring Natalie Grant and Chris Sligh. Manager Trey Hillman, General Manager Dayton Moore and pitcher Brian Bannister are expected to speak, will all events to be held outside the stadium on the first base side.
Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato from “Veggie Tales” will also be on hand.
The final issue of Gameday Magazine is hitting the newsstands tonight. With David DeJesus on the cover, the issue features Frank White, Mike Aviles and a preview of the stadium renovations. Also don’t miss a fun look inside the Royals clubhouse at some college football rivalries that exist.
Today’s Official Game Notes.