The Royals announced today that the club has acquired infielder Danny Valencia from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for outfielder David Lough.
Valencia, 29, split 117 games between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk last season, being recalled to the Major Leagues on May 19. He hit .304 in 52 games for the Orioles with 14 doubles, eight homers and 23 RBI. Valencia’s .553 slugging percentage was the fifth-highest in the American League among players with at least 150 at bats. The right-handed hitting infielder batted .371 (36-for-97) with 14 doubles and four homers against left-handed pitching. He also hit .350 (35-for-100) with a .580 slugging percentage after the All-Star break.
Valencia has spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues with Minnesota (2010-12), Boston (2012) and Baltimore (2013). He’s a career .263 hitter with 66 doubles, five triples, 33 homers and 156 RBI in 335 games. The fifth-year infielder has hit .295 (18-for-61) in his career at Kauffman Stadium with five doubles, a homer and 12 RBI.
Lough, 27, hit .286 with 17 doubles, five homers and 33 RBI in 96 games for the Royals last season.
The Royals announced today that they have agreed to terms with free agent infielder Omar Infante on a four-year contract, with a club option for 2018. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Infante, 31, hit .318 last season with 24 doubles, 10 homers and 51 RBI in 118 games for the Detroit Tigers. He played all 118 games at second base, but has started 188 games at shortstop, 63 games at third base and 67 in the outfield in his career. In 2013, he ranked fifth among Major League second basemen with a .450 slugging percentage and a .795 OPS. A right-handed hitter, Infante hit .301 (44-for-146) against left-handed pitching, and .326 (100-for-307) against righties. He also batted .325 (37-for-114) with runners in scoring position and had a .326 mark with runners on base (70-for-215). Omar is moving into a ballpark where he’s seen a good amount of success, hitting .314 in Kauffman Stadium (49-for-156), his highest average in a visiting ballpark where he has at least 150 at bats.
A 2010 All-Star with the Atlanta Braves, Infante finished that season third in the National League with a career-best .321 batting average and 125 singles, which ranked fourth in the league. Over the past four seasons with Atlanta (2010), Miami (2011-12) and Detroit (2012-13), Infante has hit .295 with 93 doubles, 21 triples, 37 homers, 200 RBI and a .415 slugging percentage. His 21 triples since the start of 2010 are the most among Major League second basemen. Defensively, the 12-year veteran infielder led the National League in assists (466) as a Marlin in 2011, ranked fourth among N.L. second sackers with a .989 fielding percentage and fifth with 75 double plays.
Infante resides in Lecheria, Venezuela with his wife, Yohanna. The couple has one son, Yomar.
The SU2C auction wraps up this evening – don’t miss your chance to help a great cause while bidding on unique Royals experiences.
The items are: the Ultimate Broadcast Experience; lunch with Royals General Manager Dayton Moore, and a meet and greet with Moore, Royals manager Ned Yost and Royals players.
Royals righty Jeremy Guthrie has spent the last few days in China as an ambassador for Major League Baseball. Click the links below to check out video from his trip!
Kansas City native and devoted Royals fan John Coughlin (
@JohnCoughlinUSA on Twitter) skated at the now-closed Ice Chateau before moving on to Pepsi Ice Midwest at 135th and Quivira.
Coughlin and pairs partner Caydee Denney will compete at next month’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston with an opportunity to land on the Olympic team.
Coughlin and Denney have a comprehensive training program in the interim. The pair get to the rink in Colorado Springs at 10 a.m., and on cold days, it’s earlier as they warm up with a heated yoga class. “It’s 27 degrees here today so you have to do something to get your body going,” said Coughlin.
A normal day begins with an hour of off-ice warm-up, where they work on the various lifts and go through the program’s choreography. Next up is an hour and a half of on-ice training, followed by another 45-minute session in the afternoon. They fit in a cross-fit style workout with fellow skaters and finish with sports medicine appointments and physical therapy so they’ll be ready to start over the next day!
This grueling schedule keeps Coughlin away from office work at the Olympic Training Center during an Olympic year. However, he does find some time to keep up with his hometown Royals.
“I watch the games when I can,” said Coughlin. “It’s tough when we’re overseas. I’ll watch the live gamecasts. I’m a Sportscenter nut. It’s been nice since I started following the Royals on Twitter. You get updates, not just on the games, but on the personnel moves.”
Coughlin watches those personnel moves closely and offered this synopsis:
“It has been exciting the last couple of years…it’s nice to see some of the people that we’ve cultivated
from the farm system start to pay big dividends on the field, as well as some of the big pitching moves in the last year.”
His favorite current players include Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and James Shields. Coughlin believes Perez will be an All-Star for a long time. As for Shields, “He came in and changed the mentality. He was used to winning in Tampa Bay. He’s a workhorse and he’s proud of putting up 200+ innings every year. To bring that mentality to the Royals staff, I think was a huge factor in their success.”
Coughlin’s passion for his hometown team started at an early age, when he watched George Brett, who ranks with Mike Sweeney as his all-time favorite players.
John’s father, Mike, was a KCMO policeman who once worked Royals games as an off-duty job. He worked at the stadium in 1985, the same year that he was shot while on his regular patrol. The Royals heard about the incident and the entire World Series team signed a baseball for Mike, which John has in his possession and remembers fondly.
John loves to get to Royals games and would like to go to the home opener every year:
“When I was growing up, it was a tradition to not go to school on Opening Day. My Dad didn’t make any pretenses about why he was pulling his son out of school…it was because we were going to Opening Day.”
For now, the focus remains qualifying for the Olympics. “Hopefully we qualify…It’s going to be incredible to represent the United States and the towns that we grew up in. Caydee is from Florida and I lived in Kansas City from birth to almost 20 years old so Kansas City will be always be home to me. It will be a special moment to be able to do that.”
And as for Coughlin’s post-Olympic goals?
“It all depends on how this season plays out. Hopefully we’re on the Olympic team and doing well, possibly medalists. If that happens, there will be some doors that will open…skating professionally, doing commentary, teaching seminars. As far as life after skating, I’d like to stay involved in some way.”
Another possibility is being a policeman, like his father and grandfather. “If I were to do that, it would definitely be in Kansas City, because that’s where we have the legacy,” said Coughlin.
And in Kansas City, his Opening Day tradition could continue…
PHOTOS: Courtesy of NBC Olympics/USOC
Royals associates joined Rex Hudler, Steve Stewart and Sluggerrr today at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau. They teamed up to distribute food, winter clothing and holiday gifts. The JCCB is a volunteer, non-profit organization and United Way agency created in 1960 that provides necessary assistance to low-income families of Johnson County, Kansas. Qualified low-income families and individuals are scheduled by appointment and assisted by a volunteer during one of the nine days of the Holiday Shop to select groceries, toys, gifts, personal care items and clothing for their families. The Holiday Shop was established in 1977.
Our broadcasters paused from their work to take a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The Royals and General Manager Dayton Moore held a conference call with reporters Thursday morning following KC’s acquisition of outfielder Norichika Aoki (pronounced: nor-EACH-kah AH-okee) for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
The first questions revolved around how this trade impacts additional offseason possibilities. Moore feels that his team is improved, but doesn’t feel that the offseason is complete, saying that the situation is fluid. The Royals will continue to pursue players through trades and free agency.
Moore noted that Aoki can play all three outfield positions. The Royals see him as an above-average right fielder who has enough athleticism to play center field. He runs very good routes in the outfield and is a smart, instinctive player. Aoki played all three outfield positions in Milwaukee, with most of the work as a right fielder.
Moore said that new third base coach Dale Sveum likes Aoki’s abilities after seeing him play against the Cubs the last two years. Aoki figures to be KC’s leadoff hitter, which will move Alex Gordon more toward the middle of the lineup.
Smith, 24, spent parts of the last two seasons at the Major League level, making 16 starts in 2012 before moving to a bullpen role midway through 2013. Smith excelled in the bullpen role, holding batters to a .170 average. Moore said that all deals come with a cost and you have to give up quality (players) in order to acquire quality.
The Royals announced today that they have acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki (pronounced: nor-EACH-kah AH-okee) from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.
Aoki, 31, batted .286 with eight home runs, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases for Milwaukee in 2013. He ranked second in the Major Leagues with 40 infield hits, while he led the National League in singles (140), tied for seventh in multi-hit games (50), seventh in times reaching base (237) and tied for 10th in hits (171). Aoki hit .339 (60-for-181) against left-handed pitching last season, the top average by a left-handed hitter in the Major Leagues. He also struck out just 40 times in 674 plate appearances for an MLB-leading 16.9 at-bats per strikeout ratio.
Aoki was signed by the Brewers prior to the 2012 season after playing eight seasons with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League (2004-11). He batted .288 during his rookie campaign with the Brewers, collecting 10 homers, 50 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 151 games. He finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year voting, leading all first-year players in steals and tied San Diego’s Yonder Alonso for the N.L. rookie lead in hits (150).
He hit .329 with 84 homers, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases during his career in Japan. Aoki won the Central League’s batting championship three times: 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358) and hit over .300 in seven of his eight seasons in the league. He is the only player in Nippon Professional Baseball history with two 200-plus hit seasons (2005 and 2010). Aoki was a seven-time recipient of the Best Nine Award (Japanese equivalent of the Silver Slugger Award), a six-time Gold Glove honoree in center field and was the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year. He was also a member of both of Japan’s World Baseball Classic championship teams in 2006 and 2009.
He will become the first Japanese-born position player to suit up for the Royals.
Smith, 24, went 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 19 appearances (18 as a reliever) for the Royals last season.