November 2010

Billy Butler conference call notes

Butler 2-25.jpgLast season, Billy Butler became the youngest player to win the Les Milgram Player of the Year award since a 22-year old George Brett won in 1975.  Today, the K.C. first baseman joined Brett as the only player to win the award in consecutive years (Brett did that twice).  Butler realizes that his accomplishments do not put him in the same category of player with a George Brett.  He is honored just to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Hall of Fame third baseman. 

Butler started slowly in 2009 – batting just .262 through the first month.  This season, he was hot out of the gate – batting .326 in April and .355 in May.  Butler attributes that to more at-bats during spring training.  He felt more polished going into this year than he did in 2009. 

The early success was slowed a bit by a hand injury.  Butler learned about himself by playing through the pain.  He played in 158 of 162 games and has missed just seven contests over the last two years.  His hand is much better than when the season ended on October 3.  Butler continues to do rehab from the injury under the advice of trainer Nick Kenney and physical therapist Jeff Blum. 

This offseason is the first time that Butler will be eligible for arbitration.  If the right deal came along, he would be more than happy to sign an extended contract with the Royals.  He believes that the arbitration issue will take care of itself.  His main focus is to help the team in any way that he can.


Billy Butler named 2010 Les Milgram Player of the Year

Butler_8-13-10.JPGThe Royals have announced that first baseman Billy Butler has been named the 2010 Les Milgram Player of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Butler, 24, earned his second straight Les Milgram Player of the Year by hitting .318 with 45 doubles, 15 home runs and 78 RBI in 158 games.  He ranked in the top 10 in the American League in batting (6th), hits (T3rd, 189), doubles (T4th), multi-hit games (4th, 54) and on-base percentage (7th, .388).  Butler joins George Brett (1975-76 and 1979-80) as the only two players in franchise history to win the award in back-to-back seasons.  His final average was the highest among qualified Royals players since Mike Sweeney hit .340 in 2002.  Born in Orange Park, Fla., the current resident of Idaho Falls, Idaho, leads the entire Major Leagues with 96 doubles over the past two seasons, also setting a new club record for two-base hits in a two-year span.

The Royals announced last week that left-handed pitcher Bruce Chen was named the 2010 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner while right-handed hurler Joakim Soria was honored with the 2010 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year.

Butler will take part in a conference call this afternoon.  Check Around the Horn later today for a recap!


Royals claim infielder Lance Zawadzki on outright waivers from the Padres

The Royals have claimed infielder Lance Zawadzki on outright waivers from the San Diego Padres.  In order to create space on the Major League 40-man roster, the Royals assigned outfielder Jai Miller outright to Omaha.  Miller will become a minor league free agent at 4 pm CT on Saturday.

Zawadzki (zuh-WAHD-skee), 25, received his first taste of the big leagues in 2010, appearing in 20 games for the Padres in May and June and hitting .200 (7-for-35) with two doubles, an RBI, four runs, five walks and a stolen base.  The 5-foot-11 switch hitter also appeared last season in the Padres system with Triple-A Portland and Double-A San Antonio appearing at second base, third base and shortstop.  He is a career .268 hitter in 380 minor league contests with 73 doubles, 15 triples, 30 home runs, 187 RBI and 58 stolen bases.  A fourth-round selection by San Diego in 2007, Zawadzki attended San Diego State University from 2004-2006 before transferring to Lee University (Tenn.) and leading the Flames to the NAIA World Series in 2007.  Upon making his debut on May 2, 2010, he became the first player from Lee to play in the Majors.  A native of Shrewsbury, Mass., Zawadzki was drafted out of high school (48th round in 2003 by the Montreal Expos) and following his junior season at San Diego State (15th round in 2006 by the St. Louis Cardinals), but chose not to sign either time.

The 25-year-old Miller played in 20 games for the Royals and hit .236 (13-for-55) with three doubles, one home run and four RBI.  He was claimed on Outright Waivers by the Royals on April 26.


Joakim Soria reflects on 2010, looks ahead

Soria_2010.jpgGreat closers are often said to have the ability to forget about a bad outing.  Joakim Soria, the 2010 Bruce Rice Royals Pitcher of the Year, didn’t have many nights to forget this past season.   When he does need to put a game behind him, he learns from it rather than forgetting about it entirely.   Soria allowed back-to-back home runs to Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton in the eighth inning on May 6 at Texas as the Rangers rallied for a 13-12 win.  Afterwards, Soria reviewed what happened in the game to prepare himself for future opportunities.  And prepare he did to the tune of converting on his next 36 save opportunities, setting a franchise mark.  Soria sees the consecutive saves record as the highlight of his 2010 season.

Soria returned to his native Mexico after the season.  He took three weeks off and now he’s back on his training program.  Last offseason, he built his strength and endurance by working closely with Ty Hill (K.C.’s strength and conditioning coordinator) and Jeff Blum (the team’s physical therapist).  The result was that Soria felt great throughout the season.  He is once again looking to the pair for advice as he prepares for 2011.

When asked about his future in Kansas City, Soria told the media that he is happy to be a part of the Royals family and believes that he fits in with what the Royals want to do.  He sees his career path as a closer, stating simply “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. 

The Royals will announce the Les Milgram Player of the Year on Monday.  We’ll post the press release and follow up with a conference call summary. 

Royals claim infielder Joaquin Arias on outright waivers from the Mets

The Royals have claimed infielder Joaquin Arias on outright waivers from the New York Mets.  With the claim, the Royals now have 40 players on the Major League roster.

Arias, 26, split the 2010 campaign between the Texas Rangers and New York Mets organizations.  The 6-foot-1 right-handed hitter and thrower opened the season with the A.L. Champion Rangers as a reserve infielder and hit .276 (27-for-98) with five doubles, one triple, nine RBI and 18 runs scored in 50 games.  The Mets acquired Arias on August 31 in a trade that sent outfielder Jeff Francoeur to Texas.  Arias played in 22 games for New York, batting .200 (6-for-30).  The versatile infielder, whose primary position is shortstop, played each infield position in 2010 in addition to appearing once in left field.  Arias is a career .276 hitter in 257 Major League games since making his debut for Texas in 2006.  He is currently playing for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, batting .241 (7-for-29).  Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Arias and his wife, Yinet, have one son, Joaquin Jr.


Royals closer Joakim Soria named 2010 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year

soria_8314.jpgThe Royals have announced that right-handed pitcher Joakim Soria is the 2010 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

The 26-year-old Soria, who also won the award in 2008, went 1-2 with a career-high 43 saves in 46 opportunities in 2010.  In 66 appearances, he compiled a 1.78 ERA, striking out 71 and walking just 16 in 65.2 innings.  The two-time A.L. All-Star (2008 and 2010) finished second in the league in saves (Rafael Soriano-TB, 45) and just two back of the Royals single-season record held by Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993).  Soria set a pair of Royals club marks in 2010, converting 36 saves in a row and posting 23.2 consecutive scoreless innings as a reliever.  Soria finished third in baseball in save percentage (93.5), behind the Padres’ Heath Bell (94.0) and the Rays’ Rafael Soriano (93.8).  The Monclova, Mexico, resident becomes the 10th Royals pitcher to be named the Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year at least twice since the award’s inception in 1971.  Dan Quisenberry and Bret Saberhagen each earned the honor a team-high four times.

Yesterday, left-handed pitcher Bruce Chen was named the 2010 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner.  The Royals will announce the 2010 Les Milgram Player of the Year on Monday.

Check back later today as we post a summary of Joakim’s conference call.


Bruce Chen: Funny off of the field, serious on it

Chen_1.jpgLeft-handed pitcher Bruce Chen is a character in the clubhouse and away from baseball (such as the below picture from the Royals Celebrity Golf Tournament).  His humor even reached Kauffman Stadium’s CrownVision this season with a starring role in “High Five Somebody” and another feature called the “Bruce Chen Joke of the Day”.  Fittingly, he was the starting pitcher on June 4 when Will Ferrell joined fellow comedians/actors Bobby Cannavale, Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Horatio Sanz and Jason Sudeikis at Kauffman Stadium.  Ferrell’s rallying cry of “C’mon Chen!” will be remembered for years to come.

Chen, the funny man off of the diamond, cited his business-like preparation in today’s conference call with the media to discuss his Joe Burke Special Achievement Award.  All of the hard work since his “Tommy John” surgery in 2007 culminated in his last start of 2010 as he tossed his first career shutout on October 1 vs. Tampa Bay.

Chen_golf.jpgWhile Chen is proud of the accomplishments (the shutout, his first save, 12 wins to name a few), he is already looking forward to next year.  Chen had just completed a workout before the conference call.  The free agent is spending time this offseason at his home in Surprise, Ariz. and has received permission to train at the Royals complex.

Chen is grateful that the Royals gave him the opportunity to show what he can do both prior to 2009 and 2010 with minor league deals.  He likes the organization and the direction that it is headed in.  While Chen is open to returning to the Royals, he believes that he will have several choices this offseason and will leave all of the contract talks to his agent.

He closed the call by thanking everyone who voted for him and stating how honored he was to win the award. 

Make sure to check back tomorrow as the Royals announce the 2010 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year.  The winner will join media for a conference call at 3:30 p.m. and we will recap the call here.

Pitcher Bruce Chen named winner of 2010 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award

Chen1.jpgThe Royals have announced that left-handed pitcher Bruce Chen was selected as the 2010 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  The award goes to an unsung player who contributed above and beyond what was expected, or someone who the writers felt deserved some recognition for an outstanding season.  Chen becomes the first Royals player not on the Spring Training 40-man roster to win the award since 1995 when infielder Keith Lockhart began the strike-altered season in the minor leagues with Omaha.

Chen_shutout2.jpgThe 33-year-old Chen began 2010 as a non-roster invite to Spring Training and concludes the season as the 2010 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner after leading the club in wins with a 12-7 record.  He finished the campaign with a 4.17 ERA in 33 appearances, including 23 starts, and also added a save.  The win total fell one shy of his career high of 13 set in 2005 with Baltimore.  He finished with the most wins by a Royals lefty since Charlie Leibrandt and Floyd Bannister posted 13 and 12 victories, respectively, in 1988.  A native of Panama, Chen capped his sensational comeback season by tossing his first career shutout in his final start on October 1, posting a two-hitter in a 7-0 win over the A.L. East Champion Tampa Bay Rays.

Congrats to Bruce!  We’ll be sitting in on a conference call with him later today, and will bring you a recap.

The Royals plan to announce the 2010 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year tomorrow and the 2010 Les Milgram Player of the Year on Monday, November 9.

Three KC prospects to participate in Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game, which will air on MLB Network

Montgomery_Hosmer_Giavotella.JPGThe Arizona Fall League has announced that Royals’ minor league left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery (left), first baseman Eric Hosmer (center) and second baseman Johnny Giavotella (right) will participate for the West Division in the league’s Rising Stars game on Saturday, November 6.

The 21-year-old Montgomery joined the Arizona Fall League after pitching for Team USA at the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico.  Montgomery is 2-1 with a 6.10 ERA in three starts for the Surprise Rafters, allowing 13 hits and seven runs in 10.1 innings, while walking two and striking out 11.

Montgomery’s teammate on Team USA, the 21-year-old Hosmer is batting .184 (9-for-49) with three doubles and 10 RBI in 11 games for the Rafters.

Giavotella, 23, is batting .385 (15-for-39) with seven doubles, one home run, six RBI and eight runs scored in nine games.  The second baseman currently ranks eighth in the league in batting after finishing second in the regular season to teammate Clint Robinson in the Texas League with a .322 mark.

The Rising Stars game, scheduled for 8 p.m. CT at Surprise Stadium, the spring home of the Royals and Texas Rangers, will be nationally televised by the MLB Network and online via (MLB.TV).


Photos: Sluggerrr goes Trick-or-Treating with contest winners


Thanks to everyone who participated in the recent “Trick-or-Treat with Sluggerrr Sweepstakes”!  Two families, one in Raytown and another in Kansas City, Mo., had the opportunity to meet the lovable lion on Halloween.  Here are a few pictures and a link to Sluggerrr’s homepage, where you can find out more about bringing Sluggerrr to your upcoming party or event! 





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