Results tagged ‘ Luke Hochevar ’
Current Royals Luke Hochevar and Mitch Maier, Royals Hall of Famer Dennis Leonard, and Fox Sports Kansas City reporter Joel Goldberg are touring Nebraska and Iowa this week (2008 Player of the Year Mike Aviles is scheduled to join the group today in Omaha). Senior Director of Community Relations and Nebraska native Ben Aken is on the trip as well. Ben sent along a few pictures from the first two days, so we’d like to share them with you.
Today marks the beginning of the free agent signing period. While no players were signed today, the Royals were busy with roster moves and an addition to the front office.
We start in the front office, where the Royals named Mike Arbuckle the Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Scouting and Player Development. Arbuckle comes to the Royals after earning a ring with the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. He started with the Phillies after the 1992 season as the Director of Scouting, and was most recently the Assistant General Manager. He drafted several key components of the 2008 champs, including outfielder Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Mike, a Trenton, Mo. native, currently resides in Liberty. We welcome Mike to the club!
The Royals also made a series of roster moves, since today was the MLB deadline for removing all the 60-day Disabled List players and placing them on your 40-man roster. Right-handed pitchers Ryan Braun, Luke Hochevar, Luke Hudson and Carlos Rosa, and outfielder Shane Costa were activated from the 60-day DL. In addition, the Royals requested Unconditional Release Waivers on Braun while designating Hudson and left-handed pitcher Josh Newman for assignment. The Royals 40-man roster now stands at 40. Keep an eye out next week, as all teams must finalize their “winter” 40-man roster on Thursday, Nov. 20. This means teams must protect some of their minor leaguers or risk losing them in the Rule 5 draft, which will take place during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Dec. 11.
Around the Horn got a treat today with the final State Farm Legends Luncheon of the season. General Manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman chatted with former Royals Al Fitzmorris and Willie Wilson for a few hours in downtown Kansas City and we got to listen.
For today, we’re going to give you a taste of what went on during the event.
If you haven’t been to one of these, we here at ATH strongly recommend them. Wilson and Fitzmorris serve as the host and talk to guests who are connected to Kansas City baseball or even players and coaches who represent the legacy of the Negro Leagues and Buck O’Neil. For more info, check out www.bestofbuck.com.
Today’s session started with a thank you to all those in attendance. Through nine years of Luncheons, over $100,000 have been raised for the Negro Leagues Museum. That’s a substantial sum for what started as an idea hatched in a conference room.
Once Wilson and Fitzmorris took the stage, they introduced Hillman and Moore. Wilson, who endorsed TeamSmile before the interview started, thanked Moore and his staff for bringing back the Royals Alumni. Wilson said he really enjoys being involved in the organization again and feels it will help re-instill the tradition of the franchise to the new players.
Wilson said it means a lot to him because he has a strong connection with the Royals. He worked his way through the system. So when he got to the bigs, he felt ownership over the team and pride in the uniform he wore. Similar to how he felt once he reached the Majors, Wilson said 60 percent of the Major League club needs to be grown through the farm system.
Moore agreed with him and spoke about being able to draft. He said that in the past, it wasn’t totally an issue of money being put into the draft, but instead the picks which did get the money didn’t pan out the way they should have. The philosophy has changed.
“You have to draft on ability and not signability,” Moore said.
Moore then talked about growing scouting everywhere and not just looking at the draft as a means of acquiring talent to be groomed. At this moment, the team is working on developing a foothold in the Eastern Rim – with area scouts and talent evaluators. The team is also ramping up efforts in Latin America and becoming more aggressive in the Dominican Republic, where the Royals already have a baseball academy.
To grow the system even more, programs are in place for the Fall Instructional League that will allow players who workout during the day and attend classes at night at Glendale (AZ) Community College. They will learn about leadership, character and responsibility on and off the field. Moore said this is something no other team is doing.
Wilson said home-grown players have an attachment to the “Blue and White,” a bond they’ve formed with the team since entering the organization and then continued as they flourished inside of it. Moore seconded his thoughts, saying “Players have to feel strongly about putting on the Royal uniform.”
These programs are making the Royals the toast of the league. In some respects, the Major League club may not be the strongest competition, but scouts are raving about the work going on in the Minor Leagues and at the scouting level. But there is still a lot of heavy lifting to be done.
For example, he threw out a few names the Detroit Tigers picked up over the last offseason. To acquire Edgar Renteria, the Royals would have had to give up Luke Hochevar and Dan Cortes. To get Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera they might have had to fork over Hochevar, Cortes, Derrick Robinson and maybe even Danny Duffy. Those trades would have decimated a thin minor league system. Moore said beyond those few, there was a large gap to get to the next tier of talent in the system.
“Before we build a great farm system, it will be very difficult to impact the Major League team,” Moore said.
The Royals are 10-5 this month, eclipsing their 2007 September win total with 11 games left in the season…When Brandon Duckworth struck out Wladimir Balentien to end the sixth inning; the 2008 pitching staff become the Royals strikeout kings. They passed the 1990 staff which had 1,006 punch outs with Duckworth’s K and ended the night with 1,010 for the season. That number is sure to skyrocket with Gil Meche and Zack Greinke likely to get at least two starts still (both are in the American League’s top 10 for K’s this season)…As a team, the K.C. offense produced a cycle in the fifth inning last night. It was the first time since June 14, 2007 that the Royals have singled, doubled, tripled and homered in one inning.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Today’s lineup: Brandon Duckworth is making his first start in the Majors since 2007. So far this season in Omaha, Duckworth has gone 5-11 with a 4.75 ERA…Lefty Josh Newman was optioned to make room for Duckworth on the 25-man roster..Luke Hochevar was placed on the 60-day Disabled List to make room on the 40-man roster. With a little more than a month left and just 32 games, including today, Hochevar’s season is done.
Luke Hochevar looks to break out of a four game winless streak, making his 21st big league start this season…The Royals lost the opener last time they were in Chicago and rebounded to win the series 2-1…Mark Teahen carries a season-long eight-game hitting streak into tonight’s game…Alex Gordon hit his first triple in over a year last night during the second inning…Gordon has 11 hits and 12 walks in 48 plate appearances since July 30, which is good for a .489 on-base percentage.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Last night was a good example of why the Red Sox are the World Champions. They were efficient with their baserunners and only one Boston player failed to reach base. That’s a balanced offense and coupled with a pitcher who commands “electric stuff”, the Sox are a team playing for another championship.
But the Royals played hard the whole way through, as evidenced by Mitch Maier robbing a home run in the seventh in one of the oddest plays this season (seriously watch this video). For a peak at tonight’s matchup, let’s go Around the Horn…
This series with Boston puts into perspective how tough the Royals current stretch is. Beginning on July 18, the Boys in Blue started a 28-game run in which they would play seven separate teams in nine series (Chicago for three games, Detroit for three, Tampa Bay for four, Oakland for three, Chicago for three more, Boston for three, Minnesota for three, Chicago for three again and New York for three).
On July 17, those seven teams featured two division leaders, the Wild Card team and the top three contenders for the Wild Card with a combined record of 368-297 (.553 winning percentage). With 10 games left, KC has done well, going 10-8, going 4-2 vs. Chicago and helping push them into second in the Central (for a time), splitting with the first place Rays and sweeping the A’s in Oakland for the first time in 20 years. Their only major losses came at the hands of the surging Tigers who swept the Royals.
The last ten games of this stretch start tonight with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield throwing for the Wild Card-leading Red Sox.
Speaking of knuckleballers, manager Trey Hillman has a knuckleball in his repertoire. In fact, he’s been toying with it for 13 years. Who knew? Hillman will throw batting practice tonight for the team to prepare them for Wakefield’s unconventional pitching.
Hillman told the media in his pre-game press conference that when he was with the Yankees minor league system, he’d be told every September they were going fly him to New York to throw batting practice before Wakefield pitched, but it never happened. He also said that in Japan, he’d always toss BP when his team was scheduled to face the few knucklers over there. Currently in the Majors, only Wakefield and Seattle’s R.A. Dickey are considered true knuckleballers.
Tonight, Wakefield will face the Royals Luke Hochevar, a sinkerballer. The keys for Hochevar to succeed are control and keeping his sinker down in the strikezone. Hochevar has done both well lately, limiting his walks to 1.5 per nine innings over his last 10 starts, compared to a 5.5 mark during his first nine. He’s also getting the ground balls he needs, recording a 1.77 ground ball/fly ball ratio. That’s fourth-best among A.L. hurlers with as many starts as Hochevar. If the Sox are hitting in the ball on the ground tonight, look for a solid outing from Luke.
So it’s sinkerballer versus knuckleballer tonight at the K.
Lefty John Bale has rejoined the Royals after completing his rehab assignment, but remains on the Disabled List…The Royals first hit tonight will be the first in support of Luke Hochevar versus Boston. If you’ll recall, his last start versus the Sox was Jon Lester’s no-hitter on May 19…Yasuhiko Yabuta cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Omaha. He pitched a scoreless inning today in rejoining the O-Royals…Jimmy Gobble started today for Triple-A Omaha to begin his rehab start. He went 2.2 innings, allowing four hits and two runs with a walk and three K’s, throwing 44 pitches…From Trey Hillman’s pre-game press conference: David DeJesus will get one more game off tonight, giving him two more days to recover from an ankle sprain before Friday’s game versus the Twins.
It’s College Night tonight, so it’s discounted tickets to all those with a valid student ID (high school or college).
Finally, don’t forget about the Larry Gura bobbleheads and Sluggerrr t-shirts this weekend.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
The Pale Hose are back in town for another three games. After failing to make a trip to Kansas City in the first three months of the season, the Sox made their first stop here during July’s first homestand.
And Royals fans will see them one more time next month. Stop number two for the South-siders starts tonight. The Royals have won their last four and are ready to take on the division leaders, so let’s go Around the Horn…
Griffey-mania has gripped Kauffman Stadium. Four huge names have changed teams within the last three days and a lot of that action has been in our division. The Tigers wanted bullpen help, so they dealt future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez and we breathed a sigh of relief that Pudge left the division.
Then we woke up yesterday to find out Ken Griffey Jr. might be going to the White Sox. A couple hours later, it was official. The 600 home run club member formerly known as “the Kid” would be in the American League Central.
Griffey got the day off yesterday and will make his Chicago debut tonight. The media has descended upon us here at the K. Its tough to remember when that many media members filled the opponent’s dugout before the Sox took B.P. here in K.C.
They were all there to see Griffey wearing No. 17 (he’ll go back to his customary No. 30 tomorrow) and sporting white and black. Its the Kid’s first trip to Kauffman since July 29, 1999… when he was a Mariner.
One group of Royals who shouldn’t be daunted by the new power-hitter in the division is the starting rotation. Gil Meche set the standard with his win to open the Tampa Bay series last Thursday, hurling seven innings of shutout ball.
Since Meche’s turn, K.C. starters have gone 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA over seven games. The group has allowed just 11 earned runs in 41.2 innings with 12 walks and 33 strikeouts. Two Royals starters hit personal single-game strikeout records (though Brian Bannister tied his).
Tonight’s starter Luke Hochevar gave up two earned runs in five innings last Saturday, but was pulled after an hour and 13 minute rain delay interrupted his work. Hochevar’s shortened start conveniently cut his season to this point in half.
Through his first 52.2 innings, Hochevar struggled some with control and walked 32 over nine starts. During his last nine starts, which also add up to 52.2 innings, he’s walked just 10. That’s 5.5 walks per nine innings over his first nine starts and 1.7 walks per nine over his last nine.
Jose Guillen was a late scratch from today’s lineup with tight hip flexors…Mike Aviles leads all American League shortstops, rookie or otherwise, with an 809 OPS (min. 150 at-bats)…David DeJesus is three RBI short of tying his career high (58 in 2007)…John Buck has hit five homers in his last 50 at-bats after hitting three in his first 209 at-bats to begin 2008.
This will serve as a final reminder that tomorrow’s game time has been changed to accommodate the FOX Network telecast. Kenny Albert and Leo Mazzone are in the house tonight to observe and have the call tomorrow. The game is scheduled for 2:56 p.m.
Tomorrow is also Military Appreciation Day. The Royals would like to encourage everyone to come out and support the troops. Camo caps will be given to the first 20,000.
Also: The Royals are sponsoring their 16th Annual Blood Drive next week from the 4th to the 8th at Community Blood Centers around the Metro area.
Today’s Official Game Notes.
Just a couple notes: Good win last night for Luke Hochevar…Joakim Soria tied a pre All-Star Break franchise record with his 25th save in his 27th try. Jeff Montgomery had 25 in 28 opportunities in 1993.
Here’s today’s Official Game Notes.
Tomorrow the Cardinals invade Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium. It’s going to be another big weekend out at the K and Saturday is nearly a sellout already and both Friday and Sunday’s tickets are going fast.
But before we start getting worked up on this beautiful off day in Kansas City, let’s get a few things straight.
Here’s what we know. The Royals and the Twins are the hottest teams in baseball, both having won 10 of their last 11 (note: Minnesota currently trails San Diego in a Thursday matinee, 1-0, in the third inning). The Royals have the best interleague record (12-3 mark) which is half a game better than the Twins entering today. Yep, you can gloat a little.
Trey Hillman rightly brought us back down to earth when he said following last night’s win that it was a “step” and said we need to focus on continuing to take baby steps. He’s right, but today’s an off-day. Time to soak in the success of the past two weeks and look forward to what promises to be a wild weekend here at Kauffman. Let’s fill the K will blue and drown out the red.
Let’s get in a quick pick-me-up before we focus in on St. Louis, and go around the horn…
The Royals have gone 11-2 since June 12, an .846 win percentage. They’ve shaved five and a half games off their division deficit and sit in fourth place, seven games back. We’ve won four series in a row for the first time since June of 2003 and already have clinched a winning mark in June.
On top of those four series wins, the Royals have won all five interleague series this season, squaring off against some tough foes including the Florida Marlins, who were in first place at the time back in May and sit just two games back in second now, the Arizona Diamondbacks who currently lead their division, the Wild Card-leading Cardinals, the third-place San Francisco Giants and the defending National League Champion Rockies.
With a low scoring game last night and the longest outing of Luke Hochevar’s career, we want to talk some more pitching. Royals starters have been impressive in interleague play and during this hot stretch. They’ve gone deep into games, averaging 6.2 innings a game during interleague play and 6.1 innings over the last 10. No surprise, they are 11-1 with two no decisions in interleague this season and 8-0 with two no decisions over the last 10 games. Going deep also keeps the bullpen fresh and effective. Just ask opponents how fresh and effective Joakim Soria has been (he has six saves in the last 10 games).
Hochevar earned his fifth big league win last night, going eight innings and throwing just 95 pitches. The sinkerballer recorded lot and lots of groundball outs last night, and is now fourth among American League pitchers with at least 13 starts with a 1.97 groundball/fly ratio. To explain that a bit more literally, Hochevar recorded 24 outs last night. He recorded 17 ground outs and three fly outs (along with three strikeouts and a caught stealing). That equals a groundball percentage of 85 (17 out of 20 outs put into play came on the ground).
If that was over your head, just remember, the key to Hochevar’s success is to keep the ball down. He’s a sinkerballer and wants groundballs.
The Cardinals Albert Pujols came off the disabled list to play for St. Louis today, allowing the former Fort Osage High standout to make a homecoming this weekend…Royals pitchers on the D.L., Leo Nunez and John Bale, might be coming off shortly after the All-Star break, although they still haven’t thrown off the mound yet…Joakim Soria has 21 saves and KC’s pre-All-Star break record is 25 (Jeff Montgomery in 1993)…he has nine saves in the month of June alone…Mr. Clutch, David DeJesus leads the Majors with a .451 batting average with runners in scoring position, 29 points higher than Cleveland’s Casey Blake.
The Silverstein Eye Center “Eye”-70 Series is moving west this weekend. To steal a Dodgers’ slogan: “Think Blue.” With three games on the line, we want Kauffman to be coated in blue. Don’t wear you’re white or gray or pink or mauve or whatever Royals jerseys and T-shirts. Opt for the blue alternates. Break out the powder blues, the Gil Meche T-shirt Tuesday shirts from last year. Whatever blue you’ve got, wear it.
We swept the Cards for the first time in St. Louis last week and we’re looking to keep it going. The Royals won 2 of 3 last season at Kauffman with a memorable moon-shot by Alex Gordon into the right field fountains. The Royals need just one win to secure a win in the season series after splitting last year. A second sweep this season would put the interleague series at 25-26, making next year very interesting.
Like we mentioned yesterday, plenty of promotions going on this weekend and tickets are going fast. Friday is also a silent auction to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation. In honor of Art Stewart being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night, keep an eye out for our second Touch ‘em All interview on this blog, with an exclusive look into John Martin’s world. John is the man who has painted every Royals Hall of Fame portrait to date as well as numerous Royals media guide covers and much more. So look for that right here on Around the Horn.
Enjoy the off-day and continue to think blue.
As the Royals continue to roll, they continue to work on fundamentals. Back in Spring Training, Trey Hillman established that the basics are what this team would focus on, doing the little things right.
To find out what little things the Royals are doing now and how they are contributing to their current run of success, we go around the horn…
Two plays stand out from last night’s game that help illustrate that point. Up by three, Miguel Olivo smashed a double into the right field corner, driving home Jose Guillen who was charging hard from second. Olivo beat the throw from Matt Holliday with a slide into second. The hit ended an 0-for-21 slide for the Royals catcher. What was the key of the at bat? Olivo saw 10 pitches. Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis had nothing new left to throw to Olivo. So he threw a pitch Olivo had already seen and Olivo made him pay. Francis left the game and the Royals continued to roll.
Alex Gordon deserves some props for some solid defense in the top half of the fifth. Gordon was able to turn two by simply being aware of the runner on base. Chris Iannetta was on third and Willy Taveras hit a hard bouncer straight at Gordon. Iannetta froze, like most players would, to see where the ball was going. By the time he started to turn, Gordon had quickly applied the tag and fired the ball across to first baseman Ross Gload. Gordon helped out his pitcher Brian Bannister hold down the damage and quickly put the Royals in a more manageable situation with two outs and one runner on base.
Both plays were small in comparison to the 8-4 final score, but take them away and who knows what might have happened.
The team is having fun right now. Of course, winning will do that. But in the Royals’ eighth, Ross Gload hit his first homer since the beginning of September last year. The bench let him know when he got back. Normally the home run hitter finds a dugout full of high-fives awaiting his return. Gload found silence and no one really paying attention to him. The whole bench stiffed him and he was left hanging. But only for a few seconds. The team burst into laughter and Gload got his credit.
Today after a regular pitcher’s fielding practice (PFP) session, about 10 players along with Trey Hillman and Bob McClure started playing a quick-throw game of catch. “The Play-Catch” drill, as MLB.com reported earlier this season, is designed to work on the most basic fundamentals of the game, throwing and catching the baseball. Players scatter around the infield dirt and fire the ball to one-another as quickly as possible. There is no set pattern to throw in. The only rules, don’t drop it, throw as quickly as you can and try not to hit the guy standing on the mound in the head. The infielders played it earlier this season and went nine or 10 minutes without dropping the ball in the fast-paced game.
Today was the pitchers turn. They didn’t last as long, but they seemed to be having fun. And so were the onlookers. Catcher John Buck could be seen just smiling and shaking his head watching the drill near the first base line, while Miguel Olivo stood near the dugout counting
as each ball was caught and laughing as the pitchers scooped and fired. Infielders, for the most part, try not to put any movement on the balls they throw. However, pitchers want life. That can make a throwing drill a little complicated when 6-foot-5 sinkerballer Luke Hochevar lets one fly. Trey Hillman bent and caught one at his ankles and with a smile, yelled “Hoch is throwin’ sinkers over here.”
Over the last ten games, the Royals are 8-2…It’s no coincidence that David DeJesus and Mike Aviles continue to be an offensive force, scoring 18 runs, totaling 28 hits (15 for extra bases, with five being homers) and knocking in 20…The Royals claimed right-handed pitcher Robinson Tejeda off waivers from the Rangers this afternoon, moving John Bale to the 60-day D.L. to make room on the 40-man with another move imminent on the 25-man when Tejeda joins the team, probably tomorrow…Notes from Trey Hillman’s pre-press conference: Mark Grudzielanek is still out with a sore back and is day-to-day…Trey’s assessment on the Royals’ newest pitcher in two words: power arm.
We covered Joakim Soria yesterday but failed to mention that he’s a “cover boy”. Soria is on the cover of Royals Gameday Magazine from June 20 to July 23. Gameday is sold throughout Kauffman Stadium or by calling 1-800-6-Royals and is a monthly 128-page magazine containing insight and inside information on the Royals.
Tonight is the middle game of the Rockies series and a special note should be made that this is their first-ever trip to Kansas City. As we mentioned yesterday, manager Clint Hurdle and bench coach Jamie Quirk are Royals alums. Quirk is a Kansas City resident in the offseason and Hurdle is making his first trip back to K.C. since 1981.
We bring them up again because Quirk is also making an appearance in Gameday this month, under the feature about a Royals alum.
Question for you all tonight… Which Royals alum are you curious about?
Today’s Official Game Notes.