Royals Manager Ned Yost had his first press conference today in front of a standing room only contingent of media in the Kauffman Stadium interview room.
Yost has been following Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, for the last week General Manager Dayton Moore contacted Yost about the managing job on Thursday morning. After accepting the job, he sifted through possible lineups at his Springfield, Mo., hotel room. Yost was awake until 3:30 this morning. He took a two-hour nap and was up at 5:30 for the drive to Kansas City! He doesn’t anticipate major radical changes in the lineup at this time.
Yost described himself as a person who has a knack for motivating players. He wants to work heavily with individual players at first. While Trey Hillman was a hands on manager, Yost is not. He said that Trey Hillman did a great job of getting players prepared every day and that the players have been a class act. The club is a little shell-shocked at the moment. Yost’s main job at the moment is to get the players to leave everything they have on the field every day. He believes that this club is more advanced than the club that he inherited in Milwaukee and that they are not that far away from turning things around.
Yost stated that 85 percent of his managing philosophy comes from Bobby Cox, who he worked for in Atlanta. The other 15 percent comes from what Yost learned as Milwaukee’s manager.
He knows that the Royals have ingredients for success in their minor league system. Yost believes that Mike Moustakas will be a “big-time Major League player”. He also mentioned that Milwaukee (where he managed previously) stockpiled young power hitters like Prince Fielder, while the Royals are stockpiling young power pitchers including Aaron Crow and Mike Montgomery.
Yost’s philosophy on coaching is to have one coach totally in charge of the infield and one totally in charge of the outfield. Rusty Kuntz is back as the first base coach and will coach the outfielders, a position he held in 2008 and 2009. Yost emphasized the importance of bringing Kuntz back. Eddie Rodriguez will shift to the third base coaching box. He will also be the infield coach. Rodriguez speaks fluent Spanish and Yost believes that will factor into Rodriguez’ work with infielders Alberto Callaspo and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Yost believes that this is an attractive job. He is up for the challenge and understands the frustration of the fan base. He has full confidence that he can do the job. He added that George Brett (who celebrates a birthday on Saturday) called him from Italy and wished him well.
Ned Yost makes his debut as Kansas City’s manager tonight. He’s meeting with the media later this afternoon. Check back as we will post some notes from that press conference. For now, here’s the lineup for tonight’s 7:10 start and a reminder that its the first Girls Night Out of 2010. The first 10,000 ladies will take home this shirt courtesy of Celsius Tannery!
(Podsednik – LF), (Aviles – 2B), (DeJesus – RF), (Butler – 1B), (Guillen – DH), (Callaspo – 3B), (Maier – CF), (Betancourt – SS), (Kendall – C), (Meche – P)
Royals’ Manager Trey Hillman met with the media prior to this afternoon’s game.
Hillman was asked about the health of catcher Jason Kendall:
Kendall’s forearm was x-rayed during last night’s rain delay and the results came back negative. Kendall would not react to the contusion after being hit by a pitch last night and declined to be taken out of the game. Hillman was impressed by Kendall’s gritty toughness, but made the decision to hold him out of today’s lineup.
Hillman also commented on pitcher Blake Wood who made his Major League debut last night:
Hillman is dead-set on keeping Wood in the bullpen; stating the he assessed the young right-hander during Spring Training and that he has the perfect mental make-up to be a successful reliever. When the team broke Spring Training for Opening Day, Hillman was strongly considering Wood for one of the bullpen spots. Had it not been for some forearm issues slowing down Wood, Hillman believes he likely would have broken with the Major League club.
Hillman finished by talking briefly about today’s starting pitcher Zack Greinke:
Hillman thinks that Greinke will be comfortable with today’s starting catcher Brayan Pena. Pena caught Greinke a few times last season, developing a positive rapport between the two. Hillman continued by addressing the lack of offensive contribution during Greinke’s starts this year. A major reason behind the lack of run support is due to hitters putting added pressure on themselves to score runs for the ace pitcher, especially coming of the Cy Young Award.
It’s a 1:10 start today on School Day at The K presented by Fox 4. Here’s the lineup that the Royals will use against Cleveland lefty David Huff.
(Podsednik – LF), (Aviles – 2B), (DeJesus – RF), (Butler – 1B), (Guillen – DH), (Callaspo – 3B), (Pena – C), (Maier – CF), (Betancourt – SS), (Greinke – P)
Tim Belcher talks about his Kansas City days, the 1988 World Series with the Dodgers and Zack Greinke
Tim Belcher, a Royal from 1996 to 1998, is now the pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians. Around the Horn caught up with the two-time Royals Pitcher of the Year (1996 and 1997) before Wednesday’s game at Kauffman Stadium.
ATH: What do you remember about your time in Kansas City?
Belcher: I enjoyed my time here. There was never a time that I didn’t enjoy coming to this ballpark. I like what they’ve done with it. The changes are nice and fan-friendly. I enjoyed living here, it’s an easy town to travel in and out of…overall, Kansas City had a lot of positives.
ATH: Is this the first time you’ve been here since the renovations?
Belcher: Yeah. I think the last time I was here was in 2000 with the Angels.
ATH: Did you have a favorite area of Kansas City?
Belcher: We lived out in Leawood. It was a great area, they were just building up the Sprint complex when we lived here. I haven’t been back to see it for several years, it would be interesting to see how it developed.
ATH: 1988 was your second year in the Majors. You started Game One of the World Series for the Dodgers against the Oakland Athletics. Some might remember that Jose Canseco hit a grand slam off of you, but more remember the Kirk Gibson home run off of Dennis Eckersley to win the game. Where were you when that happened?
Belcher: I was in the clubhouse when Gibson hit the home run. It was probably one of the worst games I ever pitched on one of the biggest stages I ever pitched on. But it also was the most enjoyable game I’ve ever been a part of because of the way it ended.
ATH: A few days later, on your birthday, you’re pitching in Game Four…you picked up the win over Dave Stewart in Oakland.
Belcher: Yep, on my 27th birthday. I don’t remember a lot about that game. I pitched well but I remember more of the Game One home run and Game Five. Orel (Hershiser) pitched a complete game in Game Five and when the last out was made, we all ran on the field.
ATH: Speaking of Orel Hershiser, he set a Major League record that year with 59.0 consecutive scoreless innings. Zack Greinke had a stretch in late 2008 and early 2009 where he didn’t allow a run. What are your impressions of Zack?
Belcher: I love watching him pitch. I think he’s a great pitcher. He’s obviously got really good stuff but I like his approach to pitching. I did a lot of advance scouting in our division the last few years and I had the chance to see him quite a bit. I admired him from afar. When things get tougher in the late innings, he throws harder and uses more fastballs. He pitches harder in and harder up, which I really like. It’s kind of a unique mentality in today’s game for guys to pitch like that. He just rears back and the tougher things get, the harder he throws. He’s pretty good. He had a special year last year.
Belcher: I did a little bit of everything. I was on the field for Spring Training, mostly in big league camp, then I’d go around to our minor league affiliates from High-A up. I spent more time with the Double-A and Triple-A teams. I’d spend time in Cleveland and go to the Winter Meetings with the front office. I did some special assignment scouting for trades and also worked with our fall league and instructional league teams. It was a great way to gain experience.
ATH: What was it about this opportunity that enticed you (being the pitching coach)? While the other job involved quite a bit of travel, it seems that this schedule would be a little more stringent.
Belcher: Yeah my schedule is different now than in my previous job. It’s a lot more time away from home. When Mark (Shapiro, Cleveland’s General Manager) asked me to consider this job, I thought about the travel, but it’s like any job, you just listen to your body. After I met Manny (Acta, Cleveland’s new manager) and we talked about the makeup of the coaching staff, the stomach started churning a little bit. I started getting excited about the opportunity and decided to do it.
ATH: You grew up about halfway between Cincinnati and Cleveland?
Belcher: Closer to Cleveland. That’s what made it easier to make the leap. I’ve had other opportunities and inquiries to become a pitching coach. This is a lot easier geographically for my family. I’m literally an hour-and-a-half from Cleveland. It’s a little too far to drive every day, but I keep an apartment in Cleveland and get home on off days.
ATH: Were you an Indians fan growing up?
(Sandy Alomar, Jr., first base coach, also in the room, interjects with a comment.)
Belcher: (Laughing) Yeah, they weren’t good until Sandy was there.
ATH: Talk about the staff you’re working with this year.
Belcher: It’s a great staff, great makeup. I’ve really enjoyed working for Manny…he’s young, energetic, a positive guy. We’ve put together a staff that has experience, guys like Tim Tolman (bench coach) and Steve Smith (third base coach), guys with long-standing relationships with Cleveland like Sandy. He was a popular player there. Scott Radinsky (bullpen coach), Jon Nunnally (hitting coach and former Royals teammate) and Ruben Niebla (staff assistant) all coached in our minor league system. David Wallace (staff assistant) came through our minor league system as a player. It has been an easy transition for me.
In today’s pregame meeting with manager Trey Hillman, the first topic of discussion concerned the roster move in the bullpen. Hillman announced that Blake Wood (RHP) will replace Josh Rupe (RHP) who was designated for assignment. The Royals skipper added that Rupe has been too ineffective against right-handed hitters and needs to work ahead more. Rupe can elect free agency if he chooses, but Hillman said he hopes Rupe doesn’t take that route. Hillman sees Wood, who will wear #38 and be here for tonight’s game, as a two-inning pitcher who will be used as needed.
With this roster move came questions regarding future changes in general. According to Hillman, it’s time to mix things up a little bit, which is why Scott Podsednik will bat leadoff tonight and David DeJesus will be in the three-hole. Hillman claimed that DeJesus is the purest number three hitter on the roster and one of the best hitters he has ever managed. Though the outfielder doesn’t have the numbers the manager would like to see right now, Hillman still believes DeJesus is a .300 hitter and hopes that putting him in the three-hole will help him reach that mark.
While tonight’s lineup tweaks will not be the final adjustment made, Hillman does hope the rate of change slows down as the team makes progress. In the meantime, however, he also hopes that fans see he isn’t afraid to make changes and try new things. Because just like the fans, Hillman is as frustrated as he’s ever been, and at the end of the day, all he wants is for the Kansas City Royals to be a contending club.
The Royals host Cleveland at 7:10 and it’s Buck Night at the K! Hot dogs, small Pepsi products, peanuts, Twinkies and Royals Gameday magazines are $1 all night long.
Here’s the lineup: (Podsednik – LF), (Aviles – 2B), (DeJesus – RF), (Butler – 1B), (Guillen – DH), (Callaspo – 3B), (Kendall – C), (Maier – CF), (Betancourt – SS), (Davies – P)