Results tagged ‘ Zack Greinke ’
The return of second baseman Chris Getz was the first topic brought up this afternoon when Royals’ manager Ned Yost met with the media. Yost said having him back improves their defense as a whole and he can swing the bat very well which is also very nice. It will be good to have him back in the lineup. Yost went on to say that having him and Yuniesky Betancourt platoon the second base role will also be good for the team. That means that whomever of the two is not playing will serve as a solid option off the bench.
Ex-Royal and tonight’s starting pitcher for Milwaukee, Zack Greinke, was brought up next by the media. Yost said he is a very good pitcher. He said he commands his fastball, he has a good slider, an exceptionally good changeup, and he is extremely intelligent out there on the mound. Yost said, however, Greinke throwing against them tonight does not mean it is anything different than a normal game other than they know the pitcher very well. He said it is just another game for both teams and they want a win.
Yost said they are getting closer to getting Sal Perez back, but it will not be anytime extremely soon. He said the thing you have to remember is there are timetables for these injuries they have to follow and there are no repercussions with it. He said Sal is doing very well, but you do not want to rush a guy back and risk further or worse injury. The injured players will continue to work and get better and when they are ready to be back up here they will be. He said hopefully within the next couple of weeks maybe they will see him. Lorenzo Cain will probably be going out on a rehab assignment after Sunday, but they are not sure yet and they will wait and see how he feels. Jonathan Sanchez is throwing the ball better and will probably be back up here fairly soon, but he may have another rehab start down in the minors first. They are just going to wait and see.
The Royals announced today that the club has acquired shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and right-handed pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash considerations.
Escboar, whose first name is pronounced “al-SEE-dees”, turned 24 last Thursday and spent his first full Major League season in 2010 with Milwaukee as the club’s shortstop. The 6-foot-1, 182-pounder hit .235 (119-for-506) with 14 doubles, 10 triples, four home runs, 41 RBI and 57 runs scored. The 10 triples ranked tied for third in the National League and set a new franchise rookie record. The right-handed hitter and thrower also stole 10 bases in 14 attempts. Escobar entered the 2010 campaign rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Brewers organization and the number 12 overall prospect in baseball by the same publication. He was a career .293 hitter with 176 stolen bases in 647 minor league games since being signed by Milwaukee as a non-drafted free agent on July 9, 2003. Born in La Sabana, Venezuela, Escobar now resides in Vargas, Venezuela, with his daughter, Gabriela.
The 24-year-old Cain got his first taste of big league action last season, hitting .306 with 11 doubles, one triple, one home run, 13 RBI and 17 runs scored in 43 games for the Brewers. Appearing mostly in center field, the 6-foot-2, 192-pound Cain also added seven stolen bases in eight attempts. The right-handed hitter and thrower opened 2010 with Huntsville (AA), batting .324 in 62 games and would have started the Southern League All-Star Game had he not been promoted to Nashville (AAA). The speedster has hit .291 in 584 minor league contests with 124 stolen bases in 159 attempts. Selected by Milwaukee in the 17th round in 2004 out of Tallahassee Community College, Cain was born in Valdosta, Ga., but currently calls Madison, Fla., home.
Odorizzi (oh-duh-RIZZ-ee), 20, earned Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 after compiling a 7-3 record with a 3.43 ERA in 23 appearances (20 starts) for Wisconsin (A) in the Midwest League. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound right-hander allowed just 99 hits in 120.2 innings, walking 40 and striking out 135, pacing the circuit with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Odorizzi was recently rated by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the talent-rich Midwest League. The Highland, Ill., native was drafted in 2008 by the Brewers in the supplemental first round (32nd overall) following a senior season at Highland High in which he was named Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year. Odorizzi turned down a scholarship offer from the University of Louisville to play both baseball and football to sign with the Brewers.
The 23-year-old Jeffress (JEFF-ress) pitched at four levels in the Brewers system last season, including making 10 relief appearances for Milwaukee in the final month. The 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA for the Brewers in 10.0 innings. He finished up 2010 by making 10 relief appearances for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 3.09 ERA and striking out 14 in 11.2 innings, also striking out a pair in a scoreless inning at the AFL Rising Stars Game. Jeffress also made stops in 2010 with Wisconsin (A), Brevard County (A Advanced) and Huntsville (AA). The South Boston, Va., native earned Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2008 when he struck out 115 in 94.0 combined innings for Brevard County and Huntsville. Jeffress was selected by Milwaukee in the first round (16th overall) in 2006 out of Halifax County (Va.) High School.
Greinke, 27, was the Royals first-round pick (6th overall) in the 2002 Draft and has posted a 60-67 career mark since his debut in 2004. The right-hander followed up his 2009 Cy Young campaign by going 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts in 2010. Greinke leaves Kansas City seventh on the franchise list with 931 strikeouts, eighth with 169 starts, ninth with 67 losses and 10th with 1,108.0 innings pitched.
The 28-year-old Betancourt hit .259 with career-highs in home runs (16) and RBI (78) last season. The shortstop was acquired by the Royals on July 10, 2009 from the Mariners in exchange for two minor league pitchers.
Escobar, Cain and Jeffress were added to the Royals 40-man roster while Odorizzi was assigned to the Wilmington (A Adavanced) roster. In addition, the Royals designated infielder Joaquin Arias for assignment to bring the Major League roster to 40.
We’ll look at several of the topics discussed, starting with…you, the fans!
Yost has the utmost respect for the fans in Kansas City and described them as a classy group. He knows that they are dying for a winner and that they deserve one. He’s never been in a stadium where the fans chant “Let’s go (team name)” as well as at Kauffman Stadium. He knows that the fans want to see a good baseball game and like him, expect a team that plays hard and never gives up. Yost believes that nearly every time that he left the dugout, his players had left it all on the field. He was impressed that the fans acknowledged opposing players for a milestone (example – their first Major League hit).
Are the Rays a realistic comparison?
Is it realistic to compare the Royals to the Rays? (Tampa Bay built their farm system and now they are headed to the postseason for the second time in three years). Yost believes that it is a fair comparison because of the depth of talent in Kansas City’s minor league system. He believes that the Royals are bringing players along at a similar pace to Tampa Bay. Due to the mental and physical demands of the Major Leagues, a majority of the group that was in Double-A this year needs to continue their development at Triple-A in Yost’s opinion.
On the coaching side of things, Yost is looking at ways to improve the information flow to the players through advance reports. He knows that errors will happen on the field, but believes in minimizing the opportunity to make errors.
As reported yesterday, all of the coaches will be back in 2011. Yost does have one position to fill as Rusty Kuntz will be working as a roving coach and special assistant in 2011. Yost knows who that person will be and expects an announcement to be made in the next few days, once the “I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed”.
Yost expects Aviles to be much stronger heading into 2011 as he continues his way back from “Tommy John” surgery. He would like to see Aviles at third base but needs to see more of him there to make a proper evaluation. Yost believes that Aviles is up to the challenge.
Yost said that the shortstop did a great job of staying focused this year and that Betancourt knows what he needs to work on. Betancourt lives in Miami, as does third base coach and fellow native Cuban Eddie Rodriguez. The pair will work regularly this offseason. Yost gave credit to Rodriguez for helping Yuni during the season. Betancourt is a clutch hitter and not an on-base percentage player, so Yost feels comfortable with Betancourt driving in runs from the seventh or eighth place in the order.
Yost believes that Butler will eventually become a 25-30 home run player who consistently drives in 100+ runs. The fact that his walks are up and his strikeouts are down is a sign that he is turning the corner. Yost sees Butler as a #3 hitter more than a cleanup hitter.
Yost believes that Greinke has the ability to be a Cy Young-caliber pitcher on a yearly basis. He said that 2010 was difficult for Greinke due to the notoriety that goes along with the award.
Both Brayan Pena and Lucas May were sent home with “prescriptions” on what they need to do to improve in 2011. Yost believes that Pena, an offensive catcher, did a fair job on game calling toward the end of the year. Bruce Chen’s shutout on Friday was a great example of Pena’s improvement.
Manny Pina, who played in a combined 91 games with Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, will get a good look in Spring Training. Pina is a defensive-oriented catcher and Yost believes that Pina’s offensive game will improve.
Moose on track
Yost will be traveling to Puerto Rico later this week to watch six of Kansas City’s prospects play on Team USA. He will see Mike Moustakas for the first time since early in the year, when he watched Moose at Northwest Arkansas.
Yost made it clear that it is important not to rush Moustakas. In his opinion, he would want to see the third baseman put up his Double-A numbers for a consistent period of time at Triple-A.
Aviles to see time at third
Mike Aviles took groundballs at third base in an early workout today. Ned Yost would like to give third baseman Wilson Betemit a day off here and there as Betemit has had hamstring and legs problems in the past. Yost said that Betemit does not have an injury now, but that this is a preventative measure. The use of Aviles at third base will also open up more time for Chris Getz at second base, who the club wants to get a longer look at. Aviles could play at third as early as tomorrow. He is doing well as he progresses in his recovery from “Tommy John” surgery.
Luke to the mound?
Luke Hochevar continues to throw on flat ground and has worked his way up to tosses of 75 feet. He could be throwing off the mound in the next 10 days.
A reporter asked about Zack Greinke and his struggles in his last start against Minnesota. Yost talked about his coaching experience in Atlanta with ace pitchers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. The three would have days where they would dominate, days where they would be ok and days where they would get hit hard. Yost said that no one is immune and there is no explanation for it. The best pitchers minimize the number of times that they are hit hard. He expects Zack to be fine.
Kicking and screaming
Yost expects tonight’s matchup between premier pitchers Jake Peavy and Zack Greinke to be interesting for everyone. Yost described Peavy as a fearless competitor and admitted he loves watching Peavy on the mound, especially when the pitcher screams and yells at himself.
Give ’em a break
The Royals will again have a different starting lineup in tonight’s game. Yost said the changes were not made because of injuries, but rather were meant to give players rest from the summer heat. He added that tonight will be the first day of rest for outfielder David DeJesus since his son was born on May 25.
Things are looking up
Yost also discussed the play of the infield, saying that it has been good and is only getting better. He credits Eddie Rodriguez with helping develop Mike Aviles’ skills at second base. Additionally, Yost has been impressed with the corners, stating that Billy Butler has done great at first and Alberto Callaspo has been fantastic at third.
According to Yost, Zack Greinke has been pressing too much and has been trying to be perfect every pitch, which was especially evident in Greinke’s last outing. Yost believes the pitcher needs to stay within himself and not force his pitches, like Luke Hochevar did last night when he softened up instead of muscling up. Yost told Greinke to focus on controlling what he can control and just take a half step back and let his stuff work.
Forget about it
After allowing three runs on three hits last night, there were some concerns regarding Blake Wood and his ability to bounce back. Yost, however, has no doubts. He believes Wood has incredible poise and won’t be affected by yesterday’s outing. In fact, Yost said he’d be shocked if there were any lingering issues.
He can do it all
Yost also discussed Willie Bloomquist’s start in left field. The utility man will be replacing Scott Podsednik for the day, so Podsednik can essentially get two days rest since tomorrow is an off day. Bloomquist will also be replacing Podsednik in the lead off spot, which Yost feels very comfortable with because Bloomquist has a very professional approach, has been hitting the ball well, can steal bases, and is overall a complete player.
There were also a couple questions concerning the upcoming draft, but Yost quickly responded by saying he’s just trying to win baseball games and has no idea who the Royals are looking at.
When Royals manager Ned Yost met with the media this morning he was asked about today’s starting pitcher Zack Greinke in his follow-up to his AL Cy Young season. Yost feels that Greinke has pitched great this year, keeping his ball club in games. Yost said, “He just needs to keep doing what he has been doing.” Yost doesn’t believe his hitters are putting any extra pressure on themselves; stating they just need to improve offensively with Greinke on the mound.
Yost also commented on today’s starting second baseman Chris Getz. Yost believes that Getz gives the Royals the best infield defense combination, which is a key for him with Greinke on the mound. While Yost also sees the time off for infielder Mike Aviles as a good opportunity for him to step back and refocus on his defense.
Yost also was asked if he saw last night’s near perfect game by Detroit Tigers starter Armando Galarraga. Yost said he felt for the game’s first base umpire Jim Joyce, on what appears to be a blown call that cost Galarraga the perfect game in the ninth inning last night. Yost still thinks that Joyce is one of the top five best umpires in the game today, but also believes MLB should do anything within reason to get the call right.
The first topic in Sunday’s interview with manager Ned Yost concerned base stealing and “small ball” in general. Yost believes there has been a trend toward “small ball” the last couple of years. He added that it’s important to maximize base stealers, which he does by being aggressive. In fact, Yost says there’s even times when a Billy Butler type player can steal, such as when the pitcher takes his focus off the runner. But he wants to make sure it is not counterproductive, meaning the runners should be successful at least three out of four times.
The manager then discussed the team’s bullpen ERA, which has dropped from over 5.00 to under 2.00 since he took over as manager. Despite the success during his short tenure, the skipper doesn’t take credit for the improvement. Yost simply said the pitchers are on a good roll and all he has done is give the guys confidence and put them in situations where they can be successful, which they then have taken advantage of.
Yost also had nothing but positive things to say about today’s starter Zack Greinke. He characterized Zack as extremely competitive, smart, bright, and truthful. Yost also described Greinke as the total package. Yost believes the Cy Young winner should just keep doing what he’s doing–attack, command, and be Zack.
Finally, Yost gave praise to third base coach Eddie Rodriguez. He said Rodriguez is doing a great job at third, which is the only coaching position that is actually more like a player. Like the players, Rodriguez’s decisions determine the outcome of the game. Yost said Rodriguez also plays a major role as the infield coach, where he makes sure everyone in the infield is in the right spot for every single pitch.
Royals’ Manager Trey Hillman met with the media prior to this afternoon’s game.
Hillman was asked about the health of catcher Jason Kendall:
Kendall’s forearm was x-rayed during last night’s rain delay and the results came back negative. Kendall would not react to the contusion after being hit by a pitch last night and declined to be taken out of the game. Hillman was impressed by Kendall’s gritty toughness, but made the decision to hold him out of today’s lineup.
Hillman also commented on pitcher Blake Wood who made his Major League debut last night:
Hillman is dead-set on keeping Wood in the bullpen; stating the he assessed the young right-hander during Spring Training and that he has the perfect mental make-up to be a successful reliever. When the team broke Spring Training for Opening Day, Hillman was strongly considering Wood for one of the bullpen spots. Had it not been for some forearm issues slowing down Wood, Hillman believes he likely would have broken with the Major League club.
Hillman finished by talking briefly about today’s starting pitcher Zack Greinke:
Hillman thinks that Greinke will be comfortable with today’s starting catcher Brayan Pena. Pena caught Greinke a few times last season, developing a positive rapport between the two. Hillman continued by addressing the lack of offensive contribution during Greinke’s starts this year. A major reason behind the lack of run support is due to hitters putting added pressure on themselves to score runs for the ace pitcher, especially coming of the Cy Young Award.
Tim Belcher talks about his Kansas City days, the 1988 World Series with the Dodgers and Zack Greinke
Tim Belcher, a Royal from 1996 to 1998, is now the pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians. Around the Horn caught up with the two-time Royals Pitcher of the Year (1996 and 1997) before Wednesday’s game at Kauffman Stadium.
ATH: What do you remember about your time in Kansas City?
Belcher: I enjoyed my time here. There was never a time that I didn’t enjoy coming to this ballpark. I like what they’ve done with it. The changes are nice and fan-friendly. I enjoyed living here, it’s an easy town to travel in and out of…overall, Kansas City had a lot of positives.
ATH: Is this the first time you’ve been here since the renovations?
Belcher: Yeah. I think the last time I was here was in 2000 with the Angels.
ATH: Did you have a favorite area of Kansas City?
Belcher: We lived out in Leawood. It was a great area, they were just building up the Sprint complex when we lived here. I haven’t been back to see it for several years, it would be interesting to see how it developed.
ATH: 1988 was your second year in the Majors. You started Game One of the World Series for the Dodgers against the Oakland Athletics. Some might remember that Jose Canseco hit a grand slam off of you, but more remember the Kirk Gibson home run off of Dennis Eckersley to win the game. Where were you when that happened?
Belcher: I was in the clubhouse when Gibson hit the home run. It was probably one of the worst games I ever pitched on one of the biggest stages I ever pitched on. But it also was the most enjoyable game I’ve ever been a part of because of the way it ended.
ATH: A few days later, on your birthday, you’re pitching in Game Four…you picked up the win over Dave Stewart in Oakland.
Belcher: Yep, on my 27th birthday. I don’t remember a lot about that game. I pitched well but I remember more of the Game One home run and Game Five. Orel (Hershiser) pitched a complete game in Game Five and when the last out was made, we all ran on the field.
ATH: Speaking of Orel Hershiser, he set a Major League record that year with 59.0 consecutive scoreless innings. Zack Greinke had a stretch in late 2008 and early 2009 where he didn’t allow a run. What are your impressions of Zack?
Belcher: I love watching him pitch. I think he’s a great pitcher. He’s obviously got really good stuff but I like his approach to pitching. I did a lot of advance scouting in our division the last few years and I had the chance to see him quite a bit. I admired him from afar. When things get tougher in the late innings, he throws harder and uses more fastballs. He pitches harder in and harder up, which I really like. It’s kind of a unique mentality in today’s game for guys to pitch like that. He just rears back and the tougher things get, the harder he throws. He’s pretty good. He had a special year last year.
Belcher: I did a little bit of everything. I was on the field for Spring Training, mostly in big league camp, then I’d go around to our minor league affiliates from High-A up. I spent more time with the Double-A and Triple-A teams. I’d spend time in Cleveland and go to the Winter Meetings with the front office. I did some special assignment scouting for trades and also worked with our fall league and instructional league teams. It was a great way to gain experience.
ATH: What was it about this opportunity that enticed you (being the pitching coach)? While the other job involved quite a bit of travel, it seems that this schedule would be a little more stringent.
Belcher: Yeah my schedule is different now than in my previous job. It’s a lot more time away from home. When Mark (Shapiro, Cleveland’s General Manager) asked me to consider this job, I thought about the travel, but it’s like any job, you just listen to your body. After I met Manny (Acta, Cleveland’s new manager) and we talked about the makeup of the coaching staff, the stomach started churning a little bit. I started getting excited about the opportunity and decided to do it.
ATH: You grew up about halfway between Cincinnati and Cleveland?
Belcher: Closer to Cleveland. That’s what made it easier to make the leap. I’ve had other opportunities and inquiries to become a pitching coach. This is a lot easier geographically for my family. I’m literally an hour-and-a-half from Cleveland. It’s a little too far to drive every day, but I keep an apartment in Cleveland and get home on off days.
ATH: Were you an Indians fan growing up?
(Sandy Alomar, Jr., first base coach, also in the room, interjects with a comment.)
Belcher: (Laughing) Yeah, they weren’t good until Sandy was there.
ATH: Talk about the staff you’re working with this year.
Belcher: It’s a great staff, great makeup. I’ve really enjoyed working for Manny…he’s young, energetic, a positive guy. We’ve put together a staff that has experience, guys like Tim Tolman (bench coach) and Steve Smith (third base coach), guys with long-standing relationships with Cleveland like Sandy. He was a popular player there. Scott Radinsky (bullpen coach), Jon Nunnally (hitting coach and former Royals teammate) and Ruben Niebla (staff assistant) all coached in our minor league system. David Wallace (staff assistant) came through our minor league system as a player. It has been an easy transition for me.