FIVE Royals are currently leading in All-Star balloting. Here are parts of the first balloting update from Major League Baseball:
The defending American League champion Kansas City Royals, who own the best record in the AL at 28-16 (.636), have five players among the AL leaders in the first voting figures for the 86th All-Star Game, to be played on Tuesday, July 14th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, it was announced today. Thus far, online voting totals are up 100 percent in comparison to 2014. The first National League voting results will be announced tomorrow.
With five players among the voting leaders, the Royals could become just the second Major League team, and the first AL team, to have five players earn starting All-Star assignments since voting was returned to fans in 1970. In that time, only the 1976 “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati Reds (Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose) had five players earn starting bids in the Midsummer Classic. In AL history, there have been nine teams to have four players win starting assignments, including the 1975 Oakland Athletics, 1981 New York Yankees, 1982 California Angels, 1987 Yankees, 1999 Cleveland Indians, 2001 Seattle Mariners, 2005 Boston Red Sox, 2008 Red Sox and 2011 Yankees.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez, an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, leads all AL players in balloting with 1,447,753 total votes. The Valencia, Venezuela native, who is seeking his first starting All-Star assignment, would join Darrell Porter (1979) as the only Royals catchers to earn a fan-elected start. Since fan voting was returned to fans in 1970, the only catchers to lead the AL in All-Star balloting were Carlton Fisk of the Chicago White Sox (1982), Ivan Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers (2000) and Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins (2010). In addition, the only Royals to pace the league in voting were Hall of Famer George Brett (1981 and 1984) and Bo Jackson (1989). Perez leads AL backstops with 47 hits on the season, and he has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. Overall, the 25-year-old is hitting .303 on the season with five home runs, nine doubles, 24 RBI and 13 runs scored. Perez is followed behind the plate by Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt (795,848), who is trying for his first career All-Star selection.
Perez’s Kansas City teammate Lorenzo Cain leads AL outfielders and ranks second in the league overall with 1,376,217 votes. Cain, who is trying for his first career All-Star selection, would join Amos Otis (1973), Jackson (1989) and Jermaine Dye (2000) as the only Royals outfielders to land a fan-elected starting assignment. The 2014 AL Championship Series Most Valuable Player is batting .306 on the season with three home runs, eight doubles, a triple, 19 RBI, seven stolen bases and 31 runs scored. The 29-year-old, who ranks sixth in the AL in runs scored, is joined in the outfield by reigning AL Most Valuable Player Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Royals teammate Alex Gordon.
Trout, who has tallied 1,297,085 votes, is attempting to make his fourth consecutive Midsummer Classic appearance and third straight start. Gordon, who is looking for his third consecutive All-Star selection and first fan-elected start, has received 991,606 votes. Gordon is hitting .271 on the season with five home runs, 10 doubles, 23 RBI and 20 runs scored. In addition, the four-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner leads all Major League players with 64 assists since becoming a full-time outfielder in 2011. Cain and Gordon could become the first pair of teammates to earn starts in the AL outfield since Boston’s Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in 2005. In the AL’s closest race, the outfield leaders are followed by four-time All-Star Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles (981,926), who has earned a starting assignment in each of the last two seasons.
Rounding out the quintet of Kansas City leaders are third baseman Mike Moustakas (1,261,769) and shortstop Alcides Escobar (1,191,268). Moustakas, who is bidding for his first All-Star selection, ranks seventh in the AL in batting average (.327), is tied for seventh in hits (53) and is tied for eighth in multi-hit games (16). The 26-year-old has added four home runs, 11 doubles, 15 RBI and 26 runs scored this season. Moustakas, the second overall selection in the 2007 MLB Draft, is trailed by 2014 AL All-Star Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays (876,586). Escobar, in search of his first All-Star selection, appeared in all 162 contests in 2014, and he ranks second in the Majors with 510 games at shortstop since the start of the 2012 season. The 28-year-old is hitting .278 on the season with a home run, eight doubles, a triple, 15 RBI, three stolen bases and 20 runs scored. His 15 RBI out of the leadoff spot is tied for seventh in the Majors. Moustakas and Escobar could become the seventh pair of teammates to earn starts on the left side of the AL infield, and the first since Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees in 2011. The La Sabana, Venezuela native is followed at shortstop by Jose Iglesias of the Detroit Tigers (826,382), who is also attempting to make his first All-Star team.
Nine-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers leads at first base, and ranks third overall in the AL with 1,347,351 votes as he attempts to make his third consecutive fan-elected start. Cabrera is followed closely at first base by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer (1,101,738), who is bidding for his first career All-Star selection.
Joining Cabrera on the right side of the infield is Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Altuve has collected 1,301,754 votes as he contends for his third career Midsummer Classic selection (2012, 2014). Star Omar Infante of the Royals (715,345).
In his first year playing for the Mariners, three-time All-Star Nelson Cruz (2009, 2013-14) leads AL designated hitters with 1,225,255 total votes. Cruz is followed at the position by Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales (918,049), who is aiming for his first career All-Star selection.
The Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot, the largest program of its kind in professional sports, for the first time, is being conducted exclusively online. Last year’s program saw more than 300 million votes cast for elected starters. Fans around the world can cast their votes for starters 35 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 Club web sites – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot.
For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Tuesday, May 26: Dish 441 or 412-29
Wednesday, May 27: Dish 440 or 412-28
Friday, May 29: Dish 440 or 412-28
Saturday, May 30: on FOX
Sunday, May 31: Dish 442 or 412-30
Concerning the decision for Jason Vargas’ next step, the Royals have made a choice; however, the Royals staff is not ready to tell the media. Given the unclear future of today’s game with rain in the forecast, Ned Yost and the Royals staff have to see what occurs today before addressing their final decision on Vargas.
Christian Colon came into last night’s game to relieve Mike Moustakas at third base after Moustakas was hit in the clavicle by a groundball. It was Colon’s first game in over a week, yet his preparation and daily workouts according to Yost, helped him be ready leading to a single in his only at bat. Regarding Moustakas’ injury, the X-rays were negative as it turned out to only be a contusion (bruised bone) and he is in today’s lineup at his usually spot.
Yost credited Yordano Ventura’s resurgence back into form to his command of the baseball. Ventura was able to change speeds and hit his locations in his last start, which will hopefully continue in today’s game.
By Sal DeFeo
Jason Vargas felt good today and there are three possibilities for him in the near future, 1) another sim game, 2) a rehab start, or 3) he will be activated. According to Ned Yost, the Royals will make their decision in the next couple of days.
Continuing with injured Royals, Alex Rios has been swinging the bat well, feels good and will hopefully go on a rehab assignment in the next few days. Yost does not expect Rios to make the next road trip with the Royals.
In regards to Alcides Escobar’s talent at the short stop position, Yost has only been around a few players who have possessed a similar level of ability. Such players were former great Omar Vizquel and Jose Iglesias, currently with the Detroit Tigers. Yost said that the level at which these players field the shortstop position cannot be taught, it is a “God-given ability” that can only be fine tuned.
Former Royals and Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog is a special guest at tonight’s game for “Legends Night”. Herzog met with the media earlier today and had many good things to say about the current Royals team. He recalled his Royals teams in great detail and also talked about the 1985 I-70 Series, in which KC defeated his Cardinals team in seven games.
Edinson Volquez will get the start in tomorrow’s game instead of Danny Duffy as the lefty struggled to get loose during a warm-up session yesterday. According to Yost, this same problem occurred last year over a six-week period and there is little concern on Duffy’s status moving forward. Duffy will most likely make his next start on Tuesday at New York.
Given the records of the Royals and Cardinals this year, Yost thinks that it will increase the dynamic of the I-70 series. In past years the Cardinal fans have split or taken over the majority of seats at Kauffman; however, Yost expects the Royals fan base to change that trend this series.
Mike Moustakas, who used to be regarded as a pull hitter, has adapted his swing to accommodate for the shifts put on by many teams this year and has drastically improved his batting average from a season ago. Manager Yost described this change as an “amazing one” given Yost’s past as a pull hitter. Yost said that as a player he would never be able to make the adjustments that Moustakas has made this year. Yost gives the credit to Moustakas’ mindset and determination to become an all-around great hitter.
This series will feature two of the best catchers in baseball with Yadier Molina and Salvador Perez. Yost described them as “the best two catchers in baseball” whose talent both defensively and offensively does not come around very often. Furthermore, Yost said that he would be extremely fortunate to have either one in his lineup.
The early season struggles from starting pitchers Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura were attributed to trying to be special and doing too much by Manager Yost. Last night, Ventura showed that the way to be special, “is to stay within yourself, stay within your delivery and to execute pitches” according to Yost.
Jeremy Guthrie has shown improvement in his last two starts compared to his first five, which Yost credited to Guthrie’s pitching expertise as he has been, “spotting it very well, he’s changing speeds very effectively and commanding the baseball”.
Manager Yost told the media that closer Greg Holland is ready to go if needed tonight. He did not pitch last night due to neck stiffness. Wade Davis picked up the save in his absence.
In regards to the Royals lineup, “it might be the best I’ve ever had” said Yost. He went on to say that there is a dangerous spot from batters one through nine, and normally in a lineup there is good flow but two or three spots will break that flow; however, the Royals do not have that in their lineup.
By Sal DeFeo
Royals infielder Rafael Furcal announced today that he is retiring from professional baseball after a distinguished 14-year career in the Major Leagues. He signed a minor league contract with the Royals during Spring Training of this year and played in seven games with Wilmington (A) and Northwest Arkansas (AA).
Furcal, 37, spent a majority of his big league career with Atlanta (2000-05) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2006-11), hitting .281 with 311 doubles, 113 homers and 1,063 runs scored. The 2000 National League Rookie of the Year was also a three-time All-Star (2003, 2010, 2012) and played on 10 teams that reached the postseason, helping the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in 2011. His 1,817 big league hits rank 46th all-time among Major League shortstops, while 1,063 runs are 33rd and he collected the 314 career steals rank 25th. He hit .292 in 156 games for the Braves in 2003, setting career highs in doubles (35), homers (15) and runs scored (130), helping Atlanta to 101 wins that season.
“To play in the Major Leagues for 14 seasons was a dream come true,” said Furcal. “I love the game, but at this point, I don’t feel like I can play up to my standards anymore and want to spend more time with my beautiful family. I really appreciate the opportunity Dayton Moore and the Kansas City Royals provided me this year.”
The Kansas City Royals take on the Cincinnati Reds in a two-game series, starting tonight at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals had a lot of success against National League teams last year and manager Ned Yost says he doesn’t expect anything different. “They’ve got a good guy [Cueto] on the mound. He spots up his pitches very well and doesn’t miss often,” said Yost, “We’ve done a good job of not giving away at-bats and when we get a pitch to hit we can’t miss it.”
Alex Rios has been making a lot of progress in the past week and Yost said he expects him to get him out on the field hitting and to a rehab assignment in 7-10 days. Erik Kratz is also getting close to being healthy and will also be going on a rehab assignment soon.
Starting pitcher, Jason Vargas, has been throwing on the side and is expected to throw a simulated game on Friday. Yost said he will be evaluated after that and see how he feels day-to-day.
by Eric Paulson
Congrats to former Royal Bruce Chen, who announced his retirement from baseball via Twitter. Chen had spent this year in the Cleveland Indians organization. He retires with 82 career wins, which ties Yankees great Mariano Rivera for first among Panamanian-born pitchers. Chen posted several tweets, here are a few:
It was great to get to know Bruce during his time in Kansas City and he helped this blog on several occasions. He was always having fun, whether it was at the Royals Charities Golf Tournament or meeting with kids at Operation Breakthrough. Best wishes, Bruce!