Francisco Pena made his Major League debut on Tuesday, entering in the ninth inning. Francisco is the brother of former Royal Tony Pena, Jr. and the son of former Royals manager Tony Pena. Francisco and Tony, Jr. joined George and Ken Brett as the only brothers to play for the Royals.
Francisco, a catcher like his father, made his mark right away, throwing out Chicago’s Adam Eaton on a stolen base attempt.
One day after exploding out of the gates with a five-run first inning in the first game of a three-game set with Chicago, the Royals will look to provide similar run support for right-hander Yordano Ventura. Manager Ned Yost has been pleased by the offensive improvements, asserting that early struggles have added pressure on the entire lineup.
“The last week or so we’ve started swinging the bats much better,” he said. “When you don’t score runs it puts pressure on everyone. Everyone starts trying to do more than they’re capable of. You’ve got to let it happen, you can’t go out and make it happen. You know, Alex Gordon the other day, he didn’t the start the day saying ‘Okay I’m going to hit two home runs and carry this team.’ He just went out and had great approaches the whole game, and he got pitches and didn’t miss them.”
Given the relative youth of this club, Yost insisted that frustration fueled by inconsistency was being taken in stride.
“The trap that we all fall into, including myself is it looks so easy,” said Yost. “It’s not easy. There’s so many different variables every single day that go into a game. There are different situations. It’s hard to be consistent. The older you get, the more experienced you get, the more consistent you get. There’s never screaming, yelling, anger. But there’s always talking about it, trying to improve upon it, trying to learn from past mistakes.”
Kansas City will be without the services of Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez for the next few days as he recovers from a bruised hand. According to Nost, the injury occurred “three days ago,” when Perez was struck by a foul tip.
“It just kept feeling worse and worse, and it just got so swollen,” said Yost. “It’s not going to get any better playing, so he’s going to take three, four days off and let the trainers work on the inflammation.”
In his stead, Brett Hayes will back stop for the Royals with Triple-A call-up Francisco Pena serving as his back-up. In 30 games with Omaha this season, Pena is hitting .240 with nine home runs and 15 RBI.
“He’s a young kid that brings a lot of enthusiasm,” said Yost. “He does a great job of calling the game, he does a great job of receiving the ball. He has some power. He’s here for the next four or five days in case something happens to Hayes.”
Mike Moustakas will also be absent from the starting lineup this evening in spite of the fact that the White Sox will start right-hander Andre Rienzo, as Yost has elected to go with Danny Valencia at third base.
“Danny has been swinging the bat okay. I wanted to get him in there and give him some at bats and let him play a couple of days in a row and see how he does,” said Yost. “I don’t have a plan. It’s day-to-day. These are all big boys. You look at your performance and that ought to communicate what’s going on. You can read into it all you want. Danny hasn’t gotten an opportunity to play a lot, and I wanted to give him an opportunity.”
Finally, injured infielder Omar Infante is said to be progressing from the back injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list.
“Omar is going to hit on the field today,” said Yost. “He’s starting to get over the hump. He went through some simulated fielding drills today. He’s going to do some more a little bit later and hit with the fourth group out here on the field.”
By Kolby Paxton
The Royals, along with pitchers Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura, are teaming up with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) to host an equipment collection drive.
On Tuesday, May 20, fans are invited to donate new and used baseball and softball equipment, which will benefit the Cristo Rey KC Baseball Program. Cristo Rey volunteers will be stationed outside the Kia Diamond Club, located across from the Majestic Team Store on the Field/Plaza Level, from 6-7:30 p.m. Cash donations will also be accepted. Fans will receive an autographed baseball for a $40 donation or an autographed photo card for a $10 donation (while supplies last).
After one of its largest scoring outbursts of the season, Kansas City will look to stay hot with the bats against the Chicago White Sox and Liberty, Mo., native Scott Carroll on Monday. Manager Ned Yost said that establishing offensive consistency will take everyone.
“It takes 1-9 to be consistent for the most part,” he said. “You’ve got to have your guys get on base and have your run producers drive them in. It’s about capturing bases. Consistent offenses capture bases any way they can: walks, errors, hit by pitch, base hits. The majority of every game, if you go back and look at who got on base the most, generally, they won. It’s all about getting on base.”
As for Carroll, the 29-year-old right-hander comes into his homecoming matchup with a 1-3 mark and a 5.24 ERA in four starts for the White Sox.
“We haven’t seen him but we’ve watched video on him,” said Yost. “He’s a guy that they like a lot over there. He’s got decent stuff. His numbers right now are not great, but they’ve got a very good offensive team and they can put numbers up on you. He’s a guy that we’re going to have to stay patient with and when we get a pitch we’re going to have to take advantage of it.”
Designated hitter Billy Butler will be among those looked upon to take advantage of the Chicago hurler just one day removed from his best offensive performance of the season. Butler went 3-for-4 on Sunday, singling home the game’s first run and launching a double into the right-centerfield gap. Yost said that Butler, along with hitting coach Pedro Grifol, discovered a mechanical flaw in Butler’s swing days ago that ultimately led to the breakout.
“Billy’s strength is gap to gap,” said Yost. “He’s a guy that can use all three fields to be productive. He just had a little mechanical adjustment that he needed to make. He and Pedro figured out what it was a couple of days ago and he’s been swinging the bat much, much better ever since.”
The Royals will look to veteran Jason Vargas to keep the ball rolling. The lefty is coming off of back-to-back victories in starts vs. Seattle and Colorado.
“We had a pretty good idea what we were getting in Vargas,” said Yost. “A veteran pitcher that commands the ball. An innings eater and a guy that is a real competitor and he has been all of that. He can throw the fastball, in, out, and his change-up is tremendous. When he has his change-up going he can rack up a lot of strikeouts.”
Manager Ned Yost was asked about the health of second baseman Omar Infante, who will be eligible to return from the disabled list on Thursday.
Yost said that Infante is feeling better and that he goes through a series of daily tests with the medical staff. He has no pain in two of the tests, however, on the third, he is still experiencing some pain.
Infante took 30 swings off of a tee and 30 soft toss swings. The coaching staff also rolled some ground balls to him, however, he still needs to take batted ground balls.
Manager Ned Yost decided to give Salvador Perez a day off on Saturday rather than Sunday. Yost said he generally likes to give Perez a day off during day games but said with James Shields pitching Sunday he wanted the pair together so Brett Hayes will start behind the plate tonight. With Perez absent from the lineup, Yost saw an opportunity to shuffle the lineup a bit and Alcides Escobar will move into the two-hole for the second time this season.
In injury related news, Wade Davis’ stiff neck is feeling much better after battling soreness for a few days. Yost said he hopes to use Davis if the situation arises. Bruce Chen threw off a mound for the first time since he landed on the disabled list with a bulging disk on May 2. Yost said it would be at least seven days before the left-hander would be sent on a rehab assignment.
Baltimore will be without manager Buck Showalter tonight as he attend his daughter’s graduation from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Bench coach John Russell will serve as acting manager and Orioles Director of Player Development Brian Graham will serve as bench coach.
By Nate Rowan
The Royals called up right-handed pitcher Casey Coleman from Triple-A Omaha prior to tonight’s game with the Baltimore Orioles as manager Ned Yost needed another arm out of the bullpen. Closer Greg Holland was the only pitcher left when last night’s game ended and had the game gone another inning, Yost said he would have had Danny Duffy pitch in relief, forcing the team to call up a starting pitcher for Saturday. The shortness of the Royals bullpen last night was due in part to the fact that Wade Davis had a stiff neck and was unavailable. Yost said Davis would play catch during batting practice today and see where he was at. To make room for Coleman, outfielder Justin Maxwell was designated for assignment.
Yost was asked, as the team is nearly a quarter done with the season, if he was satisfied with a .500 record at this point of 2014.
“You have to go back and look at what happened last year, if we could have stayed at .500 through this stretch we would have been in the playoffs because this team is going to get hot like it did last year and we’re going to get on a nice run,” Yost said. “To be at this point to be at .500 instead of nine games under .500, we’re in pretty shape because we all believe in our offense and we think we are going to put together a nice run and take off.”
By Nate Rowan
Fun facts about Casey Coleman:
He played for the Cubs from 2010-12 and is a third-generation player as father Joe and grandfather (also Joe) pitched in the Majors. The trio are the only three-generation family to all serve as pitchers.
The Royals now have two relievers named Coleman as Casey joins Louis.
He’s the first player in K.C. Royals history named Casey!
With Yordano Ventura set to make his eighth start of the season for the Royals this evening, the one constant amongst everyone associated with the club has been the increasing difficulty with tempering expectations for the the 22-year-old Dominican.
“I don’t know if it’s fair, but I think we all share the same expectations,” said manager Ned Yost. “When I pencil his name into the starting lineup, I feel like he’s going to go out and pitch a great game, keep us in the ball game, and put in a position to win.”
That confidence, the seemingly ever-increasing supposition with regard to Ventura’s ability to put Kansas City in the win column, is a feeling created by the right-hander, himself. Ventura was among Major League Baseball’s best during the month of April, and currently ranks among American League leaders in ERA and WHIP, as well as hits and strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
For those in search of defense, Kauffman Stadium may be the place to be over the next four days. When asked about Baltimore’s defensive aptitude, Yost said that the Orioles and Royals very well could be the two best defensive teams in the league.
“The same thing impresses me (about Baltimore’s defense) that impresses me about ours,” he said. “Their athleticism, the way that they cover ground, their consistency fielding the ball. (Manny) Machado is one of the great defenders in the American League. J.J. Hardy is solid as a rock out there. Their outfield is athletic and can run and cover ground.”
By Kolby Paxton