February 2009

Cruz-ing into Kansas City

Cruz.jpgWhat a day to be a sports fan in Kansas City! Our neighbors at Arrowhead traded for a quarterback and linebacker, and the Royals just made an impact acquisition of their own by signing free agent right-hander Juan Cruz to a two-year deal with a club option for 2011. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals designated infielder Esteban German for assignment.
Cruz, 30, joins the Royals after three successful seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The 6-foot-2 right-hander was 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 57 appearances in 2008.  In 51.2 innings, Cruz fanned 71 batters while allowing 34 hits and 31 walks.  He posted 12.37 strikeouts per nine innings, leading all N.L. relievers and ranking second in baseball to Tampa’s Grant Balfour (12.65 K’s/9).   
A veteran of eight Major League seasons after making his debut for the Cubs in 2001 as a 23-year old, Cruz has recorded a 29-31 career record with a 4.00 ERA in 297 outings, including 38 starts.  He has recorded 535 strikeouts in 515.0 career innings for the Cubs (2001-03), Braves (2004), Athletics (2005) and Diamondbacks (2006-08).  Since making his debut in 2001, the right-hander has struck out 9.35 batters per nine innings, the 10th-best ratio in all of baseball.  Teammate Kyle Farnsworth (10.13 K’s/9) ranks sixth. Cruz has pitched in the postseason with the Cubs (2003), Braves (2004), and Diamondbacks (2007).
Born in Bonao, Dominican Republic, Cruz still resides in his hometown with his wife, Leonarda. We welcome Juan and Leonarda to Kansas City!

Saturday Lineup, Friday Recap, Promotions Lineup

Greetings Royals fans! Hopefully a few of you are reading this from sunny Surprise, Arizona, where the temperature is expected to top 80 today. What a crazy week in Kansas City…70+ degrees for our stadium tour on Wednesday (check out the pictures), and now, we have one of our larger snowfalls of the winter!

Lefebvre Stewart Free.jpgKansas City hosts San Diego at Surprise Stadium today (2:05 Central, 1:05 local). Today’s game can be heard on 610 Sports in Kansas City and on royals.com with a subscription to Gameday Audio. Steve Stewart and Ryan Lefebvre will call the action while Don Free runs the controls. Brian Bannister makes his spring debut on his 28th birthday. Here’s the lineup:



Crisp – CF
Aviles – SS
DeJesus – LF
Guillen – DH
Jacobs – 1B
Gordon – 3B
Teahen – 2B
Buck – C
Duarte – RF
Bannister – RHP

Available Pitchers:
Hochevar – RHP
Gobble – LHP
DiNardo – LHP
Cortes – RHP
Waechter – RHP
Colon – RHP

Yesterday, Zack Greinke (above right) pitched two perfect innings as KC beat the Giants 6-1.


Shealy HR Celebration 2.27.jpgRyan Shealy is starting 2009 the way he finished 2008…on a power surge! He clubbed a 3-run home run for the Blue Crew. 


We also want to point out the 2009 promotions, special events, and ticket initiatives. Fan favorites such as Buck Night and Hy-Vee/Pepsi Fireworks Fridays are back. In addition, the Royals will have two Girls’ Night Out events and plenty of great giveaways! Single game tickets go on sale to the general public next Saturday, so scope the promotions list and mark your top events now! Click here for the complete list that was released today!


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"Coco, take one" – A look inside CrownVision features

We’ve had the following experience, and we’re guessing you have, too. You’re watching a game at the K, and the third out is made. Maybe you need to leave your seat for the concession stand, or you plan to make a phone call…but you put it on hold because you know that something cool is going to be on the video board between innings.

The Royals event presentation team has produced awesome video features for years. Now, with the high-definition CrownVision, they have taken the in-game experience to a new level! The features take countless hours to produce and edit. Today we’re going to take a behind-the-scenes look at some of this work. The event presentation team, together with staff from DXD, a Kansas City-based animation and motion graphic company, visited Spring Training last week. They were in Surprise, Ariz.,  to gather video footage for the 2009 features. They do this during the early days of Spring Training, before the games start, so as to maximize the time they have. We thank all of the players and staff who went beyond (and sometimes way beyond) their busy baseball schedule to help make features for the upcoming season that you, the fan, will enjoy all season long. Let’s take a look:

We start in the manager’s office, where in-game host Tim Scott is interviewing Trey Hillman. Tim and Trey are all laughs while being filmed by Ben Mertens, Manager of Event Presentation & Production.Interviewing Trey (2).jpgInterviewing Trey (1).jpg



Reviewing Footage (3).jpgMertens, and Chris DeRuyscher, Director of Event Presentation and Production, review the footage of Trey before moving on to their next stop.




 Communication is key in this business! Senior Director of Event Presentation & Production Don Costante reviews scripts with in-game host Tim Scott. Meanwhile, Chris works closely with the DXD staff members to ensure that both groups are on the same page (literally).

Don and Tim.jpgReviewing timeline.jpg

Getting Ready.jpg


At left, we see Ben helping Coco Crisp with his props for one of the features. Notice the background — our production team uses a green screen backdrop, much like your favorite weather forecaster. They can then color key or mix a second image in the background to create a cool multi-dimensional look.

Coco is ready to go…here he talks with Costante about the upcoming scene.


Each time a Royals player comes up to bat, they have a short video introduction on CrownVision. Here’s Coco with a bat, working on his new intro.

Coco Swing.jpg

Santa Crisp.jpgWhat’s this? Santa Crisp? Our team has outfitted Coco with a Royals Santa hat, which was given out last July on a memorable night that included Mark Grudzielanek’s 2,000th hit and a walk-off home run by David DeJesus. We’re very curious to see how this Santa scene fits into the 2009 event presentation lineup! You can find out, too…check out our 2009 ticketing options today!

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Friday Lineup: Greinke vs. the Big Unit

The Royals picked up their first Spring Training win on Thursday. Today, they travel to Scottsdale to play the Giants. Our pitching matchup is one that you’d love to see in the regular season when these guys could stretch it out and go deep into the game. Zack Greinke will make his 2009 debut against San Francisco newcomer Randy Johnson. The Big Unit is looking to put the icing on his Hall of Fame résumé in 2009 as he is 5 regular season wins shy of 300. Here’s the Friday lineup, along with Thursday’s home run swings from John Buck and Coco Crisp.FirstWin2.26.jpg

Alberto Callaspo – 2B

Mike Aviles – SS

Billy Butler – DH

Ryan Shealy – 1B

Miguel Olivo – C

Corey Smith – 3B

Mitch Maier – CF

Tommy Murphy – LF

Chris Lubanski – RF

Zack Greinke – RHP



Spring Training: Opener Recap, Today's Lineup

Jacobs HR 2.25.jpgThe Boys in Blue fell a little short against the Rangers on Wednesday, but we saw some positive signs. Kansas City blasted four home runs, something that they didn’t do in a regular season game in 2008. Granted it is Spring Training and the ball seems to travel a bit farther in the Arizona air, but what a start for hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and the offense!

Mike Jacobs went deep in his first game in Royal blue and Billy Butler hit a monster shot above the berm in left-center. Miguel Olivo and Mitch Maier also went yard, no cheapies in their own right. Here are the home run swings, and today’s lineup. Same teams, same time (2:05 Central), with the Royals as the home team today…the game is on 610 Sports in Kansas City. Royals slugger Jose Guillen is expected to make his 2009 debut. Royals beat writer Dick Kaegel had a nice story on Jose today…check it out!

Coco Crisp – CFButler HR 2.25.jpg
Tony Pena – SS
David DeJesus – LF
Jose Guillen – DH
Mike Jacobs – 1B
Alex Gordon – 3B
Willie Bloomquist – 2B
John Buck – C
Mitch Maier – RF

Kyle Davies – RHP
Heath Phillips – LHP
Julio Pimentel – RHP
Joel Peralta – RHP
Carlos Rosa – RHP
Matt Wright – RHP
Oscar Villarreal – RHP

Olivo HR 2.25.jpg

Maier HR 2.25.jpg

Renovation Photos: Food for thought

Pepsi Party Porch - View from center.jpgATH took a detailed tour of Kauffman Stadium today. Tremendous progress has been made since our last tour. For example, we walked on the new pathway that allows you to walk near the right field fountains and in front of CrownVision. It’s an awesome experience – we can only imagine what it will be like when the fountains are on and the crowd is buzzing. Here’s a sneak peek of the walkway. We’ll have more on that tomorrow…for now, we want to talk food! The tour made us very hungry! 

Bob Rice, the Royals Vice President for Ballpark Operations and Development, emphasized that the food experience will be taken to a whole new level in 2009. The new K will have one concession stand point of sale for every 193 fans. The previous ratio was 1 for every 438 fans. The goal is simple – more selections and less time spent in line. That means more hot and fresh food for you and more time you can spend enjoying the game from your seat.

Sluggerrr's Training Table.jpgThe highlight of our food blog post is Sluggerrr’s Training Table. Everything is geared toward the kids – from portions to selection to the height of the counter. It’s sure to be a hit with the kids and it’s located in the Outfield Experience near the new Little K in left field and all of the interactive areas.

Barbeque Smokers.jpgThis concession area, also in the Outfield Experience, will house two giant barbeque smokers. Mmmmmmmm!




We were able to walk along the main concourse today. Some of your food options include:

All Star Barbeque.jpgThe Royals All-Star Barbeque







Thumbnail image for Fry Works.jpg

Fry Works and    






  Wheelhouse Pizza.jpg

 Wheelhouse Pizza. 







Food Window.jpgAnother cool feature is this concession area which allows you to look in and see some of the offerings so you know what you want when you get to the counter – for instance – rotisserrie-style chicken. (We are on the inside looking out toward the concourse.)

Now you’ve seen a few of the many food options at the new K. Check back for more posts on today’s tour!

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Lineup for Spring Opener: Teahen at second

Trey Hillman has released a tentative lineup for Wednesday’s charity game against the Texas Rangers (the game will count in the Cactus League standings.)

Teahen 2.24.jpgCoco Crisp – CF
Mike Aviles – SS
David DeJesus – LF
Mike Jacobs – DH
Billy Butler – 1B
Alex Gordon – 3B
Mark Teahen – 2B
Miguel Olivo – C
Willie Bloomquist – RF
Horacio Ramirez – P


Note that Mark Teahen is scheduled to get the start at second, which is expected to be a position up for grabs this spring. Here are photos of Teahen, Bloomquist, Alberto Callaspo, and Esteban German, who are all vying for the position.
Bloomquist 2.24.jpg

 German 2.24.jpg




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Preparing for a Royal Coronation

New Crown 2.23.jpgFountains and a crown scoreboard…those are the truly identifying features of Kauffman Stadium. When CrownVision debuted in 2008, the signature top piece was absent. It took time to design a massive new crown to sit atop the world’s largest high definition LED video display. Now it’s almost time for the new crown to go up, piece by piece!


Workers have now installed support beams atop CrownVision. Over the next few weeks, the crown will be installed. Check back for more pictures of the new crown, which promises to be a new Kansas City icon!


New Crown 2.23.3.jpg
New Crown 2.23.2.jpg

Royals Bowl for Charity, Compete in Home Run Derby during busy weekend

 The Royals have been extremely active in their Arizona spring home the last few days.  Yesterday, in addition to going through physicals and a typical three-hour workout, catcher John Buck, first baseman Ryan Shealy and do-everything man Mark Teahen drove across the Valley of the Sun to Mark Grace’s Super Bowl Classic.  The former Cub and D’Back hosts a celebrity bowling tournament each year in Scottsdale to benefit a specific charity.  This season, the proceeds from the event went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

Shealy 9.18.jpgBuck, Shealy and Teahen were joined by more than 50 other celebrities and athletes such as Bob Uecker, Greg Maddux, and actor Bill Murray, who displayed his bowling talents as Ernie ‘Big Ern’ McCracken in Kingpin. Shealy rolled the highest score of the night among the three, putting a 173 on the board with the help of Buck, who bowled a strike while Ryan was away for a minute. All three bowled in the straight variety, electing not to put spin on the ball.  Buck and Shealy shared a 16-pound ball simply because their fingers wouldn’t fit into any others. Apparently, Buck’s strategy was just to throw the ball as hard as possible at the pins while Shealy and Teahen were a bit more aware of aiming. All three said they were able to make their bowling shoes look good, so we guess that’s something.  While none of the three won the tournament, they contributed in other ways, including Mark Teahen’s purchase in the silent auction of an NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals football helmet signed by the entire team.  ATH is positive that will become one of Teahen’s prized possessions since he is a die-hard Cardinals fan, season ticket holder, and even made the trip across the country to the Super Bowl a few weeks ago.

Sunday was no less eventful here in Surprise.

Meche Photo Day.jpg
Gordon Photo Day.jpgThe players and coaches arrived early to the complex for photo day. This is the day where all the photo agencies, including MLB Photos, Getty Images, Associated Press and Topps, visit the complex to take photos of the players for 2009. The images you will see all season on Kauffman’s giant CrownVision were created today.

Autographs.jpgIn addition to photo day, today was FanFest day at Surprise Stadium.  After the complex-mate Rangers worked out on the field for about an hour, the Boys in Blue took the field at 10 a.m. for a one hour and 15 minute workout complete with batting practice, relay throws and infield practice. Following the on-field workout, the team retired to the back fields for an intrasquad game. Famed bowler Ryan Shealy was one of three Royals to go deep in the intrasquad game. 

House HR Derby.jpgManager Trey Hillman was joined by pitchers Joakim Soria, Gil Meche and Ron Mahay for an autograph session and first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, third baseman Corey Smith and catcher J.R. House participated in a home run derby on the Surprise Stadium main field. House and University of Kansas product Travis Metcalf, a Rangers player, tied setting up a swing-off. The former Jayhawk prevailed, but it was a great effort by the Royals catcher and non-roster invite. ATH thinks if they settled it by who could throw a football the longest, House would have prevailed considering he was a big-time quarterback recruit coming out of West Virginia.

HR Derby.jpgStay tuned for more behind the scenes updates from Surprise, Arizona.  Remember, games are just three days away as the Royals kick off the spring slate on Wednesday against the Rangers. Horacio Ramirez is scheduled to get the ball to start the opener.

Baseball FUNdamentals

The early days of Spring Training are dedicated to the fundamentals. Bunting, sliding, and defense are a few of the drills being emphasized in Surprise. Let’s take a look:

First base coach Rusty Kuntz specializes in teaching baserunning. He had everyone take off their shoes for this fun drill…it looks like some of the guys were taken back to their Slip ‘n Slide days! (Left – Willie Bloomquist, right – Billy Butler, below right – Alex Gordon)

Bloomquist Slide 2.22.jpg

Butler Slide 2.22.jpg

Gordon Slide 2.22.jpg


Every player has been working on getting the bunt down…including Kila Ka’aihue.

Kila Bunt 2.22.jpg


The outfielders worked with Kuntz on technique (below left). Coco Crisp later spent some time fielding batting practice.



Thumbnail image for Crisp_fielding.jpg






Crisp and his teammates were all smiles as they took some cuts in the cage.


Coco 2.22.jpg

Gordon BP.jpg










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