Every year, millions of people in New York and across the world countdown as the New Year rolls in at Times Square…this year, we have another countdown as the MLB Network will be unveiled at 5 p.m. Kansas City time on January 1.
MLB Network will be a 24/7/365 source for everything you love about baseball. The network will feature the classic contests (Don Larsen’s perfect game sets the stage on January 1), major announcements (the Hall of Fame Induction Announcement airs on January 12), and 1,400 hours of live programming in its first year. Every team will be featured during the network’s “30 teams in 30 days” series during Spring Training. The network will have its share of games, including 16 World Baseball Classic tilts in March and a ‘Game of the Week’ during the regular season.
The list of on-air personalities includes Victor Rojas, son of Royals Hall of Famer Cookie Rojas. (Be sure to check out ATH’s interview with Victor). Former Major Leaguers Barry Larkin, Al Leiter, Joe Magrane, Harold Reynolds, and Mitch Williams will serve as analysts.
50 million households will receive MLB Network. DirecTV subscribers will find it on channel 213. In the Kansas City area, Time Warner subscribers should tune to channel 199 while Comcast subscribers should check channel 182. To see if your cable provider is carrying the MLB Network, click here and use the channel locator feature.
The Dominican Winter League slate has reached postseason play, and two Royals players are right in the middle of the action. Royals catcher Brayan Pena padded his regular season stats (.341 average, 8 home runs, 38 RBI) with a two-run walk off home run that gave Gigantes del Cibao a 9-7 win over Azucareros del Este in the round-robin format. Pena has had a December to remember – he hit three home runs on December 7.
Esteban German went 3-for-5 with a RBI for the losing Azucareros squad. The utility player finished the regular season sixth in the circuit with a .344 average. Pena was right behind German with his .341 mark.
Pena will report to Spring Training with the rest of the pitchers and catchers on February 13 — that’s only six and a half weeks away!
The interactive seating chart provides panoramic views that allow you to control sightlines and zoom in to areas of interest. In addition, the online tool lets you virtually explore the new features of the Kauffman Stadium renovation project that are scheduled for completion in 2009.
Did you find your favorite spot in the ballpark? Be sure to reserve it with a ticket plan for 2009. Several affordable ticket packages are on sale now, including the popular Buy 2, Get 2 Plan and the new 9-game plan. For a limited time, the 9-game ticket plan includes the opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2009 home opener and Grand Re-Opening of Kauffman Stadium on Friday, April 10 when the Royals host the New York Yankees. You may purchase any Royals ticket package for the 2009 season online at royals.com or by calling (816) 504-4040.
Blue Crew memberships, available for kids 14 and under, are $20. Fans who join Blue Crew will receive a Royals sling backpack, a limited edition Royals cap, a membership badge and lanyard, vouchers for home games and the renovated Little K area, coupons from various local businesses as well as a surprise gift for their bedrooms.
Blue Crew members also enjoy benefits throughout the season such as jumping to the front of the line for the Sprint Fun Run following Sunday home games. In addition, members will receive additional ticket offers throughout the season via email.
Fans may order a Royals Blue Crew package for the holidays at royals.com and print a Blue Crew certificate at that time. Full gift packages will be mailed in late January.
Packages will also be available for purchase by calling (816) 504-4479 or at the 2009 Royals FanFest presented by Sprint and Teva Neuroscience on Jan. 17-18.
The Royals have signed right-handed pitcher Luke Hudson to a minor league contract for the 2009 season. Hudson has been extended an invitation to the Royals Major League Spring Training camp in Surprise, Ariz.
Luke missed the 2008 season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. He made just one big league start in 2007 due to his shoulder issues. Hudson was 7-6 with a 5.12 ERA in 26 games (15 starts) for Kansas City in 2006. He is 17-18 with a 5.11 ERA in a five-year big league career for the Reds (2002, 2004-05) and Royals (2006-07). Hudson was designated for assignment by the Royals on Nov. 14.
FanFest tickets on sale
Royals FanFest returns for a second year on Saturday, Jan. 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kan. Tickets to the 2009 Royals FanFest went on sale today. Tickets are available at royals.com or by calling (816) 504-4040.
New for the 2009 FanFest, the Royals are offering two-day passes at a 25-percent savings from the one-day advance ticket prices. Two-day passes are $18 for adults and $9 for children ages 6-17, while advance single-day tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for kids ages 6-17. Fans ages five and under will be admitted free. Royals 2009 season ticket holders will receive complimentary two-day passes to attend the event.
Tickets will also be available at the Overland Park Convention Center on the days of the FanFest event. Ticket prices at the door are $14 for adults and $7 for kids ages 6-17.
A preliminary list of the players and coaches scheduled to appear has been released. Players and coaches scheduled to attend include: Mike Aviles, John Buck, Shane Costa, Kyle Davies, David DeJesus, Brandon Duckworth, John Gibbons, Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, Trey Hillman, Luke Hochevar, Kila Ka’aihue, Devon Lowery, Ron Mahay, Dave Owen, Kevin Seitzer, Ryan Shealy, Joakim Soria and Mark Teahen. Check back for updates on player appearances or visit the FanFest page on royals.com.
Here are a few more behind-the-scenes photos from Kauffman Stadium. These pictures were taken on December 10, so the project has progressed in a week. Be sure to check out the photo galleries, webcams, and renovations news on royals.com.
We start with a wide shot of the snow-filled field. The batting cage was out, but no one was taking cuts on this cool day.
Next, we move inside for a look at the widened concourse on the plaza level (left). Notice that the new concession stands are in place, just a few months after demolition work started in this area. On the right is a concession area on the Loge Level.
On the left, scaffolding is in place as work continues on the new Stadium Club. On the right, steel is in place in the former View Box seats. This area will house the new press box.
Finally, here’s a look at some of the new additions on the outside of the original stadium. On the left are the new escalators that will service the Loge and View Levels. The glass on the right is on a new office building. This level of the building will house the Royals front office. The ground floor will feature a team store and ticket office, while the roof will be the food court for the View Level. The picture on the right shows the new panels on the outside of the stadium.
Check back for more photos as we count down the days to the April 10 opener!
John Bale has agreed on a one-year contract with the Royals. The 34-year old left-hander was non-tendered last Friday, making him a free agent. Bale was 0-3 with a 4.39 ERA in 13 appearances (3 starts) in 2008. After moving from the starting rotation to the bullpen and then dealing with multiple injuries, Bale responded with 10 scoreless relief appearances in September, covering 11.1 innings. During that span, he retired 21 consecutive batters before issuing a walk in his final appearance of the season. Bale figures to play a prominent role in the Royals bullpen in 2009.
Joey Gathright, also non-tendered by the Royals on Friday, is now a member of the Chicago Cubs. The 27-year old speedster signed a one-year deal with the North Siders on Tuesday. Gathright batted .254 with 22 RBI and a team-leading 21 stolen bases last season.
Joey will be remembered by Kansas City fans for his great plays that made Sportscenter. You can find your favorite Gathright plays here…and there are many, including his leaping catches to rob Toronto’s Aaron Hill of home runs on back-to-back days in 2007. Don’t forget spring training of 2008 when he leapt over Los Angeles pitcher Hiroki Kuroda while going to first base. After that game, a contingent of Japanese media waited outside of the Royals clubhouse. This was a typical site in spring training as the reporters talked to pitchers Hideo Nomo and Yasuhiko Yabuta on a daily basis. But that night, the reporters wanted to know about the media availability of Gathright, who had jumped over their countryman! Joey became a star in Japan, at least for one day. We wish Joey the best as he moves on to the Cubs.
Baseball’s Winter Meetings wrapped up today in Las Vegas, and the Royals had a flurry of activity on the final day. Here’s a recap:
* Kansas City selected pitcher Jose Lugo from the Twins in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft and immediately traded Lugo to Seattle for cash considerations.
* The Royals selected three players in the Triple-A Phase of the draft:
– Right-handed pitcher Luis Ortega, 21, who pitched in the Dominican Summer League for the Washington Nationals two squads in 2008.
– Catcher John Suomi, 28, who split his 2008 season in the Phillies organization between Class AA Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
– Right-handed pitcher Carlos Arias, 23, who spent 2008 at Class A Mahoning Valley in the Cleveland Indians organization.
* The Royals lost left-handed pitcher Gilbert De La Vara in the Major League Phase to the Houston Astros and right-handed pitcher Russ Haltiwanger in the Triple-A Phase to the St. Louis Cardinals.
* Kansas City’s signed free agent pitchers Horacio Ramirez and Doug Waechter. The left-handed Ramirez is expected to battle for a rotation spot. He made 15 appearances with KC in 2008 before being traded to the White Sox for minor league outfielder Paulo Orlando. Waechter, 27, will be in the bullpen. The righty was 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 48 appearances with the Marlins in 2008.
* Minor league outfielder Jordan Parraz was acquired from the Astros to complete the November 24 Tyler Lumsden trade. Parraz batted .289 with 31 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 42 RBI and 82 runs in 2008 for Class A Advanced Salem in the Carolina League. Baseball America ranked Parraz as the Astros prospect with the Best Outfield Arm prior to the 2008 season.
Jairo Cuevas (pronounced “HIGH-row KWAY-vahs”) was a Brave, then a Royal, then a Brave, and now…a Royal…all in the matter of six and a half weeks. The Royals now have 39 players on their 40-man roster after they re-claimed the right-handed pitcher from Atlanta. Kansas City originally claimed Cuevas on October 24. Atlanta re-claimed him on November 26.
Cuevas, 24, made just seven appearances (six starts) in the Braves organization this season for Mississippi (AA) and the Gulf Coast Braves (R). The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder underwent season-ending surgery on his labrum in his right shoulder on Aug. 22. The resident of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was the 2005 Danville (R) Most Valuable Pitcher of the Year, going 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 27 appearances, including 23 starts. He was originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on March 20, 2003.
This morning, we had the chance to take a tour of Kauffman Stadium. Recent snowfall prevented us from checking out the outfield experience, but we have some new pictures that will be posted soon, so check back!
Several Royals players are staying warm this winter in the Caribbean. The goal isn’t just to stay out of this current snowstorm that’s hitting Kansas City…these Royals are staying sharp by playing winter league baseball.
Last night, Royals catcher Brayan Pena belted three home runs for Cibao in the Dominican Republic. That’s half of his 2008 total with the Omaha Royals. Pena has 18 career minor league home runs in 2,003 at-bats and two Major League home runs in 127 at-bats with the Braves. He is batting .346 with 8 home runs and 33 RBI in 34 winter contests. Pena, claimed off waivers from the Braves on May 30, is currently on the Royals 40-man roster.
A few other notes from the Caribbean:
* Esteban German is third in the Dominican Winter League with a .355 average.
* Tony Pena, Jr. is batting .294 with a .373 on-base percentage for Cibaenas in the Dominican.
* Robinson Tejeda, teaming with German on Azucareros del Este, has 25 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.
* Minor leaguer Dusty Hughes is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA over 34.0 IP for Escogido in the Dominican.
* Mike Aviles is batting .302 with Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Mike’s club is managed by his uncle, Ramon Aviles, who played in the Majors in 1977 and 1979-81 with Boston and Philadelphia.
Photo credit: Gregory Bull/AP