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Ned Yost media session: August 13, 2014

Jason Vargas will make his third start tonight since undergoing an appendectomy on July 9. Vargas has a 5.79 ERA in two starts following surgery but manager Ned Yost believes he’s back to being the pitcher he was prior to surgery.

“He’s back to full strength,” Yost said. “It’s just getting his sharpness back. His first two starts he had his good stuff but his command was off a little bit. The progression is going to come with his command and sharpness. His stuff’s good.

Vargas will oppose Oakland lefty Scott Kazmir, who the Royals beat in Oakland on August 3.

Christian Colon will spell Mike Moustakas at third base tonight and could possibly start at second base to give Omar Infante a break tomorrow, according to Yost. Colon has embraced a role that most young guys are unfamiliar with; a bench player.

“It’s tougher for a younger guy,” Yost said. “The older guys know what’s expected of them. But he acts like an older guy.”

“He keeps himself prepared every single day for anything that could happen. He takes ground balls at short, at second, at third. You’ll see him before his group hits running the bases in case we need him to be a pinch-runner. He does a great job of keeping himself prepared so that when his name is called he’s going to be ready to for whatever we need him to do.”

Colon will be making his fourth start of the season and has batted .364 (4-for-11) with three doubles, a triple, and an RBI with the Royals going 2-1 in those contests.

By Nate Rowan

Royals superfan SungWoo Lee welcomed at “The K”

If you live in KC, you’ve seen him on the news or in the paper…and if you live outside of KC, you’ve probably seen him on social media.  SungWoo Lee is enjoying his first trip to Kansas City – and the Royals are on a hot streak with him in town!  On Monday, SungWoo watched batting practice from the field, met players and Manager Ned Yost, threw out a first pitch, posed for a selfie with George Brett, then had the honors of placing the ‘W” on the Royals Hall of Fame after the win.

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Ned Yost media session: August 12, 2014

The pitching has been there all season for the Kansas City Royals and manager Ned Yost. The bullpen, which has a 1.46 ERA since July 22, has been among the best in baseball and the starters have the fourth-best ERA (3.70) in the American League while limiting Royals relievers to the fourth-fewest innings in the Majors. When Eric Hosmer was placed on the disabled list with a right-hand fracture on August 2, many wondered where the offense would come from. During the current eight-game winning streak it has been a total team effort.

“We got guys hot at the right time,” Yost said. “Billy got hot at the right time, Gordy got hot at the right time, Cain was hot earlier then cooled off and got hot again, Esky’s swinging the bat well.”

“I think what’s most impressive to me is we’re really taking advantage with runner in scoring position we’re making it count.”

And taking advantage is putting it lightly. Kansas City is hitting an absurd .450 (27-for-60) with runners scoring position since the beginning of the streak on August 3 in Oakland. The stretch has propelled the Royals into first place by a half game in the American League Central after falling 8.0 games behind the division lead following play on July 21 behind both Detroit and Cleveland in the standings.

The winning streak has created a buzz among Kansas City fans, who have filled Kauffman Stadium the past four games to the tune of over 110,000. In the ninth inning on Monday night, the noise and energy was apparent.

“That’s your home field advantage,” Yost said. “If we can pack this place every night and have the energy and cheering for us it definitely is an advantage to home team. They feel it, they sense it, it’s almost like they crave it and helps them take their game to the next level. It’s a special time.”
The Royals have won six games in a row at “The K,” pushing their home record to 31-27.

By Nate Rowan

Royals move into first!

Four Pitchers 8-11

KC moved into first place on Monday behind outstanding outings from the four pitchers above:  Yordano Ventura, who tossed 6.0 innings, followed by Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, who went an inning apiece.

Davis has a 17.2 inning scoreless streak, second to Oakland’s Ryan Cook among active streaks.  Herrera is right behind Davis, sporting a 17.1 inning streak.  Holland has nine saves since July 26 and 35 on the year, just one behind the Major League lead.

Royals on FSKC: Dish channel numbers, August 11 – 17

Monday, August 11:  Dish 441 or 412-29

Tuesday, August 12: Dish 441 or 412-29

Wednesday, August 13:  Dish 441 or 412-29

Thursday, August 14: no TV

Friday, August 15:  Dish 441 or 412-29

Saturday, August 16:  Dish 441 or 412-29

Sunday, August 17:  Dish 441 or 412-29

 

Royals trade for Willingham; Dayton Moore meets with media

Prior to tonight’s series opener with the Oakland Athletics the Kansas City Royals acquired outfielder Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league right-hander Jason Adam. The deal was announced just after 6:00 p.m.. and General Manager Dayton Moore expects Willingham to be in uniform Tuesday. The deal comes after the Royals did not make a trade at the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

“We’ve been working on acquiring as [many] quality bats as we possibly can,” Moore said. “We worked on it prior to the deadline and we stayed consistent with our approach.”

Willingham won a Silver Slugger Award in 2012 with the Twins after hitting 35 homers and driving in 110 runs. Injuries limited him to 111 games last season and this year has appeared in 68 contests, batting .210 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI.

“He’s the type of player and presence that you add at this time of year,” Moore said. “I think he’ll be in the lineup most days as we’re set up right now. He can complement Raul very well [in the DH role].”

Kansas City will be Willingham’s fifth team, now in his 11th Major League season. He is a career .278 hitter with 11 runs scored, three doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in 23 games at Kauffman Stadium.

By Nate Rowan

 

 

Ned Yost media session: August 10, 2014

The Royals will look for their second consecutive series sweep on Sunday afternoon when they face veteran right-hander Tim Lincecum, making his second career start vs. Kansas City.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner has seen his velocity diminish over the course of the last few years, but his unique delivery still presents a challenge to opposing hitters.

“It’s funky,” said manager Ned Yost. “There’s a lot of moving parts to it. He used to be a guy that really threw hard. He’s more command now. He’s 91-92 (MPH) [and] he relies on his deception in his delivery and chase pitches, throws a lot of splits in the dirt. Those are all things we’re going to have to try to lay off of.”

Yost expects his hitters to lock in after the first time through the order.

“They’ll see it after the first time,” he said. “You just stay focused on the release point and you’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Ned Yost media session: August 9, 2014

The Royals bullpen was up to its usual tricks on Friday night, combining to toss four shutout innings and seal the Royals’ fifth consecutive victory. Closer Greg Holland and setup man Wade Davis have been among the best in baseball all season, but the emergence of Kelvin Herrera, Jason Frasor, and others, has been a pivotal factor in the club’s recent resurgence.

“It means a lot,” said manager Ned Yost. “Giving us the opportunity to make the game a five or six inning game, like we did last night, is really, really important. To have Herrera throwing as well as he is, and Wade as well as he is, and Holly as well as he is, with the addition of Frasor and Downs – they’ve mixed in quite well down there – and Aaron Crow has done a nice job.”

James Shields will get the start for Kansas City tonight, as the Royals look to take their sixth consecutive series. After having some struggles for the better part of June, Shields enjoyed considerable success during the month of July, posting a 1.93 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and just seven walks in five starts from July 7-29.

“He got back to who he was,” said Yost. “Guys are going to go up and down. They’re going to have struggles. You just ride them out. The season is such a long, drawn out season, and they can go through a little period of dead arm where they’re battling through games without their best stuff. It always seems to bounce back. That’s exactly what happened. He went through that little streak and all of a sudden, bam, he bounced back, and he’s feeling great.”

Shields isn’t the only Royal who appears to be feeling great of late. Veteran slugger Billy Butler has caught fire since taking over at first base for an injured Eric Hosmer on July 31, batting .429 (12-for-28) with two home runs, three doubles, and six RBI over that span.

“It had been a while since Billy was putting up Billy-like numbers,” said Yost. “But you always knew that hopefully he was going to break out and start putting some offense up on the board for us, and he’s done that. He’s been impressive offensively here for us the last week or 10 days, but he’s been equally impressive defensively.”

In 14 games in place of his Gold Glove Award-winning teammate, Butler remains error-free.

“He’s kept himself ready all season long,” said Yost. “He’s taken hundreds of ground balls over there at first base, every single day, preparing himself in case we needed him. And when Hoz broke his hand, we needed him, and he’s done a great job for us. He’s made plays on balls I didn’t think he’d get to, and ended up making it easy.”

By Kolby Paxton

Photos: Friday, August 8

The Royals won a fifth straight last night, staying 2.5 games behind Detroit in the division and in control of the second A.L. Wild Card spot.  Here are photos from Chris Vleisides and Jason Hanna:

Photos:  Starter Jason Vargas, Billy Butler’s homer, Alcides Escobar turns a key 4-6-3 double play, Sal Perez makes the play at the plate, two awesome views of the postgame fireworks

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8-8 Fireworks

 

8-6 Fireworks

Ned Yost media session: August 8, 2014

Winners of four straight and 12 of their last 15 games, the Royals begin a seven-game homestand this evening versus the San Francisco Giants, an opponent that finds itself nearly identically positioned within the pennant race on the National League side.

“This is a big homestand,” said manager Ned Yost. “The Giants are in the exact same position we are. Of course, Oakland, with the pitching they have over there, they’re going to be very tough games. But we’ve been playing some tough games and playing very well.”

Yost said that hot bats throughout the lineup have been largely responsible for the team’s recent surge.

“We played better,” he said. “Billy got hot. Cain got hot. Aoki got hot. Mixed in with Alex, mixed in with Salvador doing what he’s doing. And we won ball games. That’s what we need to continue. We’re 40 games over .500 when we score four runs or more. We had guys get hot and it creates more offense when that happens.”

According to Yost, the team continues to focus on the division race in spite of the fact that it finds itself locked in a tightly contested Wild Card race.

“I don’t get them in there every day and put on a chalkboard, ‘Do not look at the Wild Card,’” said Yost. “[But] we want to win the division. They know that. They want to win the division. The Wild Card is Plan B. We stay focused on Plan A.”

The Royals will look to veteran Jason Vargas to keep the win streak alive in just his second start back from the disabled list. Vargas dropped his previous start at Oakland after the A’s exploded for eight runs in the fifth inning. Yost said that the box score was not indicative of Vargas’ performance, however.

“I saw Vargas being Vargas,” he said. “He commanded his fastball well. He kept his change-up down. I didn’t categorize that game as him having a rough inning. If we make a couple of plays for him and he gets out of that inning, maybe only giving up one, maybe two, but it just all kind of snowballed.”

The recently acquired Erik Kratz will get the start at designated hitter this evening, a decision that Yost said came down to Kratz vs. Christian Colon.

[Kratz] has got power and it was a difference between him or Colon,” he said. “Colon has done a really nice job for us. But either way, right now, you’re going to lose a little bit of protection. If something happens to Salvy, we’re going to lose our DH. But if I use Colon, if something happened to three of my middle infielders, I’m going to lose my DH. So I went with the catcher.”

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