A contingent of current and former Royals plus front office members are in Joplin today, helping rebuild homes through Habitat for Humanity. We’ll bring you pictures throughout the day.
First, we have Sluggerrr, Willie Aikens, Greg Pryor, Brian McRae, John Mayberry, Shawn Sedlacek and Danny Duffy meeting with the families.
Danny Duffy will have many new fans by the end of the day – here’s one of the youngest.
Finally, here’s our full group. They’re ready to help!
Jake Odorizzi will be making his Major League debut this afternoon when the Royals go for the three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians. This morning when manager Ned Yost met with the media inside his office, the first question he received was about the Royals expectations, if any, of Odorizzi or what they want him to get out of his first big league start. Yost said they are not necessarily expecting anything out of him, but rather they want him to get through it, if you will, and take in the experience of making his first appearance. He said you cannot judge a player based off his first game or one game in general, therefore the Royals just want him to take this in and go out there and just pitch. He went on to say this is a situation that Odorizzi has thought about since he was little and thought about baseball. Getting to this very moment is what every baseball player dreams of. His day is here and they want him to go out and enjoy it and get through it. He finished by saying they are not going to evaluate his start and they hope he has a good outing, but ultimately they are just letting him go out there with as little pressure put on him as they can.
Catcher Adam Moore making his Royals debut behind the plate was the second topic brought up with Yost this morning. He was asked similarly about Moore as he was Odorizzi. Yost said there is no way to judge a player based off of one game, so they just want him to go out there and enjoy his debut with Odorizzi.
The last question involved catcher Salvador Perez and his status with the bruised hand and fingers that have led to the Royals giving him the weekend off. Yost said he is feeling alright and is slated to be back behind the plate for tomorrow’s game in Detroit. He said Perez spent time last night trying to convince the coaching staff to let him catch the rookie today, but they are electing to have him rest and let the rookie tandem of Moore and Odorizzi go today.
Ned Yost met with the media before tonight’s game vs. Cleveland. The topic of discussion was pitching. Francisley Bueno, who came into spring training this year as an unknown, has been very effective as a reliever. Yost said, “With guys in the pen, they have to earn their appearances and Bueno has done just that. We put him in a situation and he’s had success, and as long as he continues to have success like he does, he will continue to (earn) more situations. He has done a good job.” He followed with, “The thing I like about him is he comes in and is ahead in the count, he’s throwing strikes, he has a decent breaking ball, he’s gets righties out just as effectively as he does lefties and he has just done a good job.”
Left-hander reliever Tim Collins has not been as effective recently as he usually is. “He hasn’t been as sharp. His stuff is still good, but he is behind in the count and struggling with command, especially with his fastball and his curveball,” said Yost. With Collins not being as effective it has created more opportunities for Bueno.
Jake Odorizzi will be taking the mound in the final game of the Cleveland game tomorrow to wrap up the nine-game homestand. Many Royals fans are excited for his debut. Yost said, “I am excited, but I don’t want to get this thing all hyped up. It is his first Major League start and we are excited to see him, but we are not expecting anything out of him. We want him to just go out and get it over with. The first Major League start, there is a lifetime built up to get to that point. What I want him to do is to go out and get it done. The main objective I think for me is for him to come in here and get a start, maybe two, so he has that experience to go into next season.” Yost followed with, “It is a big experience (getting starts under your belt), look what it did for Will Smith (tonight’s starting pitcher). He came up made three starts, went back down and came back up a little bit of a different pitcher. You have to experience and understand what it is like for a little bit and then you can start making progress. So I just want him (Odorizzi) to go out and make it through it.”
Kansas City hosts Cleveland tonight on Fan Appreciation Night at 6:10. The first 20,000 fans will receive a fleece blanket courtesy of Sprint and the Royals. Make sure to listen to the p.a. announcements all night as you could take home an additional prize! And it’s Shirts Off Their Backs Night - you could take home a jersey that is handed over directly from a Royals player or coach! Just look for the volunteers that are selling scratch-off tickets for the event – proceeds go to Variety – The Children’s Charity of Greater Kansas City.
Tonight’s game will not be televised locally. You can tune into the Royals Radio Network.
Let’s take a look at the lineups:
Cleveland: Choo – RF, Cabrera – SS, Santana – C, Brantley – CF, Canzler – 1B, LaPorta – DH, Chisenhall – 3B, Neal – LF, Phelps – 2B, Jimenez – RHP
Kansas City: Dyson – CF, Escobar – SS, Gordon – LF, Butler – DH, Moustakas – 3B, Francoeur – RF, Hosmer – 1B, Pena – C, Falu – 2B, Smith – LHP
Royals Notes (PDF file): Game_151_vs._Cleveland
Royals Trivia Fact: With tonight being Shirts Off Their Backs Night, we take a look at Royals uniform history. Ned Yost wears number 3 in honor of his late friend, Dale Earnhardt. The number was worn by 19 players and three coaches before Yost. The first player to don 3 with KC was the great Harmon Killebrew in 1975. Killebrew’s number 3 was retired by the Twins while he was playing with the Royals!
This evening, the Royals inducted long-time head groundskeeper George Toma into the Royals Hall of Fame. He worked for the Royals until 1997, but still keeps active as a consultant at the Super Bowl each year and at the Minnesota Twins spring training fields in Fort Myers Florida. Toma becomes the 25th member of the Royals Hall of Fame, the first groundskeeper. Toma spent his whole life since the age of 13 (70 years) dedicated to keeping ball fields looking their finest and living by his three words “and then some.” What George meant by these simple three words was to always do your job and then some. Going above and beyond what is expected was how George lived his life and did his job.
Toma was born a coal miner’s son in Pennsylvania. His family had just enough to get by. George’s dad passed when he was only ten and he said he did not want to work the mines. “I took my first job at 13 on a vegetable farm making 50 cents per hour,” George said. He went on to talk about his second job being on a chicken farm making around one dollar an hour if not less. He said it was around that time when he was given his first groundskeeping job at the young age of 13 with the Class-A Eastern League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
George continued working in baseball and was offered a job with the Kansas City A’s at old Municipal Stadium in 1957. He said when he first went to Kansas City to get a look at the field it was just awful. He said there was not much grass at all and what was there was crabgrass or not very good. “The players would actually pick the crabgrass out of the infield themselves,” George said. He took the job in Kansas City, even after the warnings from a friend telling him not to. He had been warned that in Kansas City it floods in the spring and bakes in the summer, but he took the job anyway. He took the job because he wanted the challenge and because he always kept those three words close, “and then some.”
George Brett complimented Toma during an induction speech saying that he prided himself as a player to always be the first one to the ball park in the morning and being the last one to leave. He said he never once in his entire career beat Toma to the field in the morning and he was always there whenever he left.
Toma said in his 70 years in sports he never met a bad player or a bad owner. He did say he had his difficulty with front office staff, but that is going to happen when you are negotiating seed prices and other necessities for the field. He followed that up with also saying in his 70 years in and around the game he never had a bad day. He said it is such an honor to be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame and it means so much to him. He then looked around the room filled with former and current front office and Royals staff as well as former Royals and said everyone had a hand in getting him to where he is today. He said without everyone in Kansas City and elsewhere along his journey he would not be where he is today and would not be going into the Royals Hall of Fame. He then finished by thanking everyone again and said that everyone has a fingerprint on his Hall of Fame induction and that without them, there would be no George Toma.
When manager Ned Yost met with the media this afternoon outfielder, Jarrod Dyson was the first topic brought up by the media. Jarrod injured his right lat muscle August 29 against Detroit and has not played other than pinch running occasionally since the injury. Yost was asked if Dyson is healthy again or how they know he is ready since the impression early on after the injury was that his return to the outfield was questionable for the remainder of the season. Yost said Dyson is feeling a lot better and he has been on a throwing program to get back from the injury and he is healthy enough to play. Yost said they wanted to see how Dyson would respond to the throwing program and so far he has responded very positively to it so they are going to go with him in center tonight and then re-evaluate him after the game.
The next question involved Alex Gordon’s absence from tonight’s lineup and if it was just a chance for the Royals to give him a breather. Yost said it is a bit more than just a night off because Gordon is kind of banged up from last night when he dove head first into home plate to avoid the tag to score the tying run for Kansas City in the sixth inning. Yost said Gordon’s hand was slightly swollen after the game and sore, therefore, they are going to give him tonight off as a precautionary measure more than anything. Yost said he feels good today and could probably play and ultimately wanted to, but to be safe they are going to give him the night off. The Royals look for him to be back in the starting lineup tomorrow.
Catcher Salvador Perez and his night off was the next question. Yost was asked why he is also not in the lineup. Yost said Perez is kind of beat up right now as well. He said he took a foul ball off of the back of his hand a week ago as well as off of his thumbs since then, so his hands are quite sore. Yost said Perez has been playing through the pain thus far and could continue, but they want to take this chance to get him some rest and let that soreness heal. He said they will probably give Perez the next three days off and look for him to return on Monday when the Royals travel to Detroit. The Royals have Brayan Pena going behind the dish tonight, but also have options with Manuel Pina and Adam Moore at that position while Sal gets some time off.
The final topic of the afternoon was rookie David Lough getting the call in left field tonight after seeing most of his time in center for the Royals or right field. Yost said he has seen Lough play in left field in spring training and is very confident with him in all three positions. He went on to say he relies a lot on outfield coach Rusty Kuntz and he puts a lot of trust in him. He said if Rusty says a guy can play a spot in the outfield, then he is going to be able to play those spots. He finished by saying Rusty has been around all of these guys in the minors and he has seen him in spring training, so they have good confidence in Lough at all three spots out there.
The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10. Here’s a look at the lineups:
Cleveland: Choo – RF, Kipnis – 2B, Cabrera – SS, Santana – C, Brantley – CF, Hafner – DH, Kotchman – 1B, Chisenhall – 3B, Cabrera – LF, Masterson – RHP
Kansas City: Dyson – CF, Escobar – SS, Moustakas – 3B, Butler – DH, Francoeur – RF, Hosmer – 1B, Pena – C, Lough – LF, Falu – 2B, Mendoza – RHP
Royals Game Notes (PDF file): Game_150_vs._Cleveland
Royals Trivia Fact: Greg Holland notched his seventh win of 2012 last night. He is the first KC reliever to win at least seven games since 2000, when Ricky Bottalico had nine and Jose Santiago recorded eight.
Ned Yost met with the media before tonight’s final game of the Chicago White Sox series. Jeremy Guthrie will be taking the mound and has been very successful for the Royals since being acquired on July 20 from the Colorado Rockies. Yost said, “He has pitched effectively. He has kept the ball down, thrown quality strikes down in the zone. He has been very, very good at making quality pitches…consistently.”
Luis Mendoza is feeling better after being sick for a couple of days and will be taking the mound tomorrow against the Cleveland Indians. “He feels goods, he looks good, he feels strong and there’s no signs of him not feeling good. He looks 100% normal and natural,” said Yost.
In last night’s game, Alcides Escobar set the club record for hits by a shortstop. “I always knew the kid could hit and he is going to continue to get better, continue to get stronger and he will hit more home runs as he gets older. But when we signed him (to an extension) this year, somebody asked what do you think he can hit and I thought he is probably a .280 hitter and he interrupted and said no .300. He was right, he was more right than I was. I expected him to eventually be a consistent .300 hitter, but he has proved to be a consistent .300 hitter earlier than I thought he would be. He has had a tremendous year and that is a great accomplishment, the hits he has gotten this year, and the way he was able to sustain his offensive production all year long, moving to the two-hole and not miss a beat has been very impressive,” said Yost.
Rookie prospect Jake Odorizzi will be taking the mound in Sunday’s game vs. the Indians. Someone from the media asked, “If it is more beneficial for him to have a catcher who has caught him before or someone who knows the hitters?” Yost answered with, “It’s hard to learn a guy if you haven’t caught them before, it takes a time or two. There is a relationship between a pitcher and catcher that you have to be able to know what he can do, what he can’t do and more importantly what he thinks he can do. So I think it is more important to have someone who has caught him before, understands what his pitches do, understands what it takes if he gets in trouble (of) how to get him out of trouble. They (pitcher and catcher) will have the benefit of watching two games, they will have a game plan formulated by the time he pitches and they will get a good feel for the hitters.
Kansas City wraps up the season series with Chicago tonight. The first pitch is at 7:10, with the contest on FOX Sports Kansas City and the Royals Radio Network.
KC’s 1-9 lineup is the same as last night, with Jeremy Guthrie on the mound.
Kansas City lineup: Bourgeois – CF, Escobar – SS, Gordon – LF, Butler – DH, Perez – C, Moustakas – 3B, Francoeur – RF, Hosmer – 1B, Giavotella – 2B, Guthrie – RHP
Chicago lineup: De Aza – LF, Wise – CF, Dunn – 1B, Rios – RF, Pierzynski – C, Youkilis – 3B, Johnson – DH, Ramirez – SS, Beckham – 2B, Liriano – LHP
Royals Game Notes (PDF file): Game_149_vs._Chicago
Royals Trivia Fact: KC enters Thursday at 11-6 vs. Chicago. The club record for wins for the Sox is 12, set in 1973. The Royals were 12-6 that year. There were many years when the clubs played less than 18 times.
The Royals have signed a four-year player development contract (PDC) through the 2016 season with the Lexington Legends of the Class A South Atlantic League. The Royals spent the 2011-2012 campaigns with the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League.
“The Kansas City Royals are extremely pleased to announce that we have partnered with the Lexington Legends on a Player Development Contract,” said Royals Director of Minor League Operations Scott Sharp. “We have long coveted the South Atlantic League as one of the best leagues in baseball for developing young players. The fact that we get the chance to join the league in one of the finest facilities with a strong ownership group and front office staff is a tremendous bonus. We look forward to the new relationship and making new Royals fans in the great state of Kentucky.”
“I have had the fortunate experience of getting to work with the Kansas City Royals the past five seasons through our ownership stake in the Omaha club,” said Lexington Legends President/COO Andy Shea. “Every single occasion has been the ultimate professional encounter. This is a fantastic fit for Lexington, Whitaker Bank Ballpark, and the Lexington Legends. We look forward to being a part of the Royals continued dedication to the minor league system and the growth of both clubs.”
The Lexington Legends are located in Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington had been affiliated with the Houston Astros since their inaugural 2001 season. The Legends play their home games at Whitaker Bank Ballpark (capacity 6,006).
Lexington won their first and only South Atlantic League Championship in their first season of 2001, named co-champs after the season was ended due to the tragic events of September 11. The club has been in the top four in attendance in the South Atlantic League in each of its 12 seasons.
Lexington marks a return to the South Atlantic League for Kansas City, who had an affiliate in Charleston (SC) from 1980-1984 and in Charleston (WV) from 1999-2000.