Friday is Futures Night at Kauffman Stadium (7:10 start vs. Tampa Bay). The award winners have arrived in Kansas City. Many of them are getting their first look at Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium. Today, the players watched batting practice, toured the Royals Hall of Fame (where their photos are on display) and met current players, coaches and staff members. On Friday, the award winners will participate in community events throughout the day. You can meet the players at an autograph session that runs from 5:30 to 6:15 near Gate A in the Outfield Experience. The award winners will be honored on the field in pregame ceremonies. Congratulations to all of the organizational award winners!
Yost said he sees a lot of similarities between the type of team the Royals are trying to build and the squad the Rays have this season. The manager said he hopes to become a perennial contender like Tampa Bay by creating a successful farm system and bringing up the youngsters at the right time. He admitted it can be a struggle to have the necessary patience to wait on calling up productive minor leaguers, especially when others are pressuring to do so. Yost added that he thinks a minor league player is ready for the big leagues when he has strong numbers, shows maturity, and has proven that he has the right mentality to overcome failure.
The Blanco Beat
Gregor Blanco will play in right field tonight due to Mitch Maier still having stiffness in his knee. Yost said another reason for playing Blanco in that position is to get a look at his versatility. Maier is still a day or two away from taking the field.
Blanco will also bat leadoff, while yesterday’s leadoff hitter, Jarrod Dyson, will bat ninth. Yost explained that he likes Dyson hitting ahead of Blanco because if they get on base at the same time, Dyson will be more aggressive in taking advantage of the double steal.
Tampa Bay is in town tonight for a 7:10 start. The Rays have clinched a playoff spot and are battling the Yankees for the A.L. East title.
Florida native Zack Greinke has defeated all of K.C.’s American League opponents in his career with the exception of one – the Rays. Zack is on the mound tonight looking for that first win vs. Tampa Bay…here’s the lineup:
(Blanco – RF), (Aviles – 2B), (Butler – 1B), (Ka’aihue – DH), (Betemit – 3B), (Gordon – LF), (Betancourt – SS), (Pena – C), (Dyson – CF), (Greinke – P)
Aloha and happy Wednesday! Kila Ka’aihue led the charge in a 10-1 win last night, going 3-for-3 with his first two-homer game, his first Major League triple, plus career highs with four RBI and four runs. Kila is batting fourth again tonight. Here’s a look at the lineup:
(Dyson – CF), (Aviles – 2B), (Butler – DH), (Ka’aihue – 1B), (Betemit – 3B), (Gordon – LF), (Betancourt – SS), (May – C), (Miller – RF), (Hochevar – P)
Yost picks Soria
Is Joakim Soria the best closer in baseball? That question was asked to Yost, who said that if someone came to him and said he could have any closer in baseball, he’d take Soria.
Showing a little power with the speed
Jarrod Dyson hit his first Major League home run last night. Dyson’s ability to drive the ball isn’t a complete surprise to Yost. J.J. Picollo, KC’s Assistant GM for Scouting & Player Development, had told Yost that Dyson could deceive with his power. While Dyson is hitting the ball hard, he can further expand his game by bunting for base hits. Yost wants Dyson to focus on that aspect while he plays winter ball.
Yost also wants Dyson to take focus on his health this offseason through rest, nutrition and hydration. Dyson played in 71 minor league games this season and his career high is 93 games in 2008. Manager Yost wants him to be ready for the full 162-game schedule in 2011.
May continues to make progress
Rookie Lucas May is starting behind the plate again tonight. The converted catcher had some early problems with passed balls. Yost believes it was due in part to the centerfield backdrop at Kauffman Stadium. He pointed out that May did not have trouble picking the ball up on the road. Yost believes that May has a nice feel for calling the game and that he needs to work on his throwing.
A computer-savvy skipper
After today’s media session, the conversation switched to Yost and his computer skills. The manager had mentioned that he would print out a list of players that will participate in winter ball. MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel somewhat jokingly asked Yost if he did his own printing. Others chimed in about Yost’s strong computing competency and the manager mentioned that he had built three computers from scratch. Yost thought it could take some time, but he had the first one up and running in three hours. Now Kaegel knows who he can call on if he has computer issues on the road…
The Royals took a 10-8 win in a back-and-forth contest on Monday vs. Minnesota. Jarrod Dyson hit his first Major League home run, then tied a club record with 10 outfield putouts in a game (he shares the record with Amos Otis and Carlos Beltran). Josh Fields put the Royals ahead to stay with a homer in the fourth, and Joakim Soria recorded his 42nd save, tying his career high from 2008. Soria broke a club record for consecutive scoreless innings by a reliever (currently at 22.2 IP).
Tuesday’s lineup is the same as last night’s, with Sean O’Sullivan taking the mound for KC:
(Dyson – CF), (Aviles – 2B), (Butler - DH), (Ka’aihue – 1B), (Fields – 3B), (Gordon – LF), (Betancourt – SS), (May – C), (Miller -RF), (O’Sullivan – P)
Yost is encouraged by Gil Meche’s development as a reliever and believes that Meche will be a big part of the club in 2011. Yost pointed out the different mindset for a starting pitcher compared to a reliever (throwing 110 pitches compared to 30). Meche is still adjusting to that mindset. The fact that he pitched in September should go a long way in improving his comfort level with the role heading into 2011.
A new angle for Chavez
Reliever Jesse Chavez is working on pitching from a different arm slot, thanks to a fielding play and some late-night pondering by pitching coach Bob McClure. Chavez made a play off the mound and threw the ball in a three-quarter arm slot. McClure woke up early one morning thinking about how the new arm slot could help with the pitcher’s deception. Chavez, who was a little hesitant in the first throwing session, has quickly warmed up to the idea. Chavez was throwing 94 miles per hour over the top. He is now throwing at about 92 with more bite on his pitches.
Wilson Betemit and Mitch Maier are fine, though they continue to be sore. Yost feels that either could play, but he doesn’t want to press the issue. Josh Fields and Jai Miller can fill in at Betemit and Maier’s positions, respectively.
Between Fiore and Aviles, 255 Royals have combined for 107 grand slams, 94 inside-the-park home runs, 68 pinch-hit home runs (including four grand slams), 57 walk-off home runs, eight home runs by a pitcher and six home runs that were part of a cycle. George Brett is the franchise leader, accounting for 317 (or 6.34%) of the 5,000 home runs.
The Kansas City Royals will host Fan Appreciation Night presented by Sprint on Saturday, October 2. During the annual event, the club will salute fans with great prizes throughout the game as the Royals host the Tampa Bay Rays. Game time is set for 6:10 p.m.
Prizes, which will be awarded randomly to ticket holders, include autographed memorabilia, tickets to the club’s 2011 Opening Day game, Crown Seats for a 2011 home game, tickets to the 2011 Royals FanFest, and gift certificates to the Majestic Team Store, MLB.com’s online shop, Hy-Vee and local restaurants such as La Bodega, Stroud’s, Sonic, Fogo de Chao, Sheridan’s and Blanc Burgers + Bottles. Fans will also have a chance to win a Dugout Suite for 20 guests for a 2011 home game, gift packs from DRI DUCK and Miller, a Royals Odyssey Putter and gift pack courtesy of Commerce Bank, a Sprint Bluetooth headset and phone, an Anheuser-Busch neon sign and Aquafina “For a Year.” A complete list of prizes is available at www.royals.com/fans. In addition, the first 20,000 fans will receive a Royals Sluggie courtesy of Fox Sports Kansas City.
The Royals will also host a 610 Saturday pregame party during which fans can enjoy great food, live music from Project DNA, and activities for all ages prior to the game in the Outfield Experience. Fans may visit www.royals.com/610saturday for more information.
In conjunction with Fan Appreciation Night, Royals Charities will also host its annual Shirts Off Their Backs fundraiser to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. This unique event gives fans the opportunity to win an autographed jersey right off the back of their favorite Royals player. The Royals will wear their alternate powder blue jersey uniform tops for that night’s game and fundraiser.
Throughout the game, Royals Charities will join Ronald McDonald House volunteers to sell $1 instant-win scratch tickets. Following the game, the winners will be escorted to the field where they will receive a game-worn jersey directly from one of the Royals. Fans may visit www.royals.com/shirts for more information.
Fans can purchase game tickets for October 2 and all the remaining regular season home games online at royals.com, by phone at 1-800-6ROYALS, at metro area Hy-Vee stores and at the Kauffman Stadium ticket windows.
The Royals open a seven-game homestand at 7:10 tonight vs. Minnesota. Monday is Hy-Vee Royal Nite! Seats in the Hy-Vee Level (excluding Hy-Vee Reserved Box) are just $5.
Here’s the lineup: (Dyson – CF), (Aviles – 2B), (Butler – DH), (Ka’aihue – 1B), (Fields – 3B), (Gordon – LF), (Betancourt – SS), (May – C), (Miller – RF), (Davies – P)