Saturday, March 31, 2007

Greinke Strong in Losing Effort

Game Date: March 30, 2007
Astros 4, Royals 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 11-17

Zack Greinke pitched five strong innings last night, giving up one earned run on four hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. He got the ball up in the zone a couple of times and Astro hitters may him pay for that, but he ends the spring with a 3.00 ERA in six appearances. He struck out 27 guys in 24 innings and walked only two. I don’t know if he’ll ever turn out to be the ace that the Royals have been hoping for, but he does appear to be on the verge of having a break out season.

The Astros took the lead for good in the eighth inning when Luke Scott hit a two-run home run off Jimmy Gobble—who got a pitch out over the plate. Woody Williams started for the Astros and he pitched well. The Royals haven’t had many problems scoring runs this spring, and after being shut down by Williams and company, you have to hope that their final spring tune up in Houston this afternoon. Brandon Duckworth will make the start for the Royals.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Royals Hit Three HR's in Win

Game Date: March 29, 2007
Royals 7, Rangers 5 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 11-16

Odalis Perez had to leave the game yesterday after three innings with blister problems again. He claims that he’ll be ready to go for the second game of the season, but this is the second time in the last two weeks that one of his outings were cut short by a blister. The Royals plan to limit Zack Greinke’s pitch count tonight against the Astros just in case he needs to be bumped up to the number two spot the first time through the rotation.

The Royals hit three home runs in this one. Ross Gload hit his second of the spring. Mike Sweeney hit his second. And Mark Teahen hit his fourth. Ron Washington, the Rangers manager, had a funny quote about Brandon McCarthy’s allowing Sweeney’s home run: “He made one mistake, and that was trying to sneak the cheese by the rat. Not many (pitchers) are going to sneak the cheese by him, especially when he’s healthy.”

The Royals made their final cut of the spring to bring their roster to down to 25 guys. They optioned Joey Gathright to Omaha. Gathright was the odd man out since Gload played so well this spring and since Teahen logged some time in center to back up DeJesus. If the Royals deal Reggie Sanders or Emil Brown, then Gathright is sure to get the call back to the big leagues.

As predicted, Alex Gonzalez chose not to report to Omaha, so he’s a free agent now. The Royals head to Houston now where they’ll play two games before heading north to Kansas City for the home opener against the Red Sox. RSTN is planning to carry the game tonight.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ryan Braun Feature

Shortly before Spring Training, I interviewed Ryan Braun and wrote a short feature about him for an Omaha magazine. Since then, he found out that he made the Opening Day major league roster. Even though the article is a bit dated, I thought you might enjoy reading it, so here it is:

Ryan Braun Seeks Success at the Next Level
by Lee Warren

When the Kansas City Royals Caravan bus stopped in Omaha recently, one of the players who stepped out of it was already familiar with the Omaha area. Ryan Braun, a 26 year-old relief pitcher, played for the Omaha Royals in 2006 and he put up such impressive numbers (2.16 ERA, 3 saves, and 22 strikeouts in 25 innings) that he finds himself on the big league club’s 40-man roster going into Spring Training.

He pitched briefly in Kansas City at the end of the 2006 season. It was his first crack at the big leagues and he was met with moderate success. In five of his outings, he didn’t allow any runs, but he also had a couple of poor outings and he ended the season with a 6.75 ERA. So, he knows he’s not guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“Who knows what’s going to happen this next year?” Braun said. “I feel confident and ready for a challenge. The big leagues are where I want to be, but I’m going to go out in Spring Training and compete and see what happens.”

His game plan is pretty simple.

“I need to stick with my approach,” Braun said. “Getting people out and staying mentally focused and just working within my game.” Braun said. “I’m not trying to develop a new pitch or anything like that. It’s just getting real refined in what I’ve been used to doing.”

Braun, drafted by the Royals in the sixth round in 2003, is part of a new baseball philosophy in Kansas City. Since General Manager Dayton Moore took over the team in the middle of last season, he has stressed the importance of keeping young players together in the minor leagues so they will develop strong ties and be comfortable around each other when they get to the major leagues. Braun points to guys like Mitch Maier, Chris Lubanski, Billy Butler, and Alex Gordon—all of whom were first round picks in recent years—as just a few of his young, talented teammates who are on the verge of playing in Kansas City.

Braun hopes to play the entire 2007 in Kansas City. If he does, he’ll take good memories of Omaha with him.

“They have a good fan base,” Braun said. “I’d sense that going into games. I enjoyed the area too. The stadium is awesome and I like the Old Market district.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Roster Moves

The Royals made several roster moves in an attempt to pare the roster down for opening day. The moves were as follows...

Optioned to Omaha:

  • Brian Bannister
  • Kenny Ray
  • Alex Gonzalez (who probably won’t report)
  • Shane Costa

Optioned to the Minor League Camp:

  • Paul Phillips
  • Fernando Cortez
  • Jason Standridge
  • Zach Day

Put on the DL:

  • Luke Hudson
  • Leo Nunez
  • Scott Elarton
  • John Bale

The Royals have 26 men in camp now. So, one more will be cut before opening day on Monday

Rotation is Set

Buddy Bell named his fifth starter today, so the rotation is set. Here it is:

1. Gil Meche
2. Odalis Perez
3. Zack Greinke
4. Jorge De La Rosa
5. Brandon Duckworth

The bullpen will include: Ryan Braun, Jimmy Gobble, Joel Peralta, Joakim Soria, Todd Wellemeyer, David Riske, and Octavio Dotel.

Meche Pounded in Final Spring Outing

Game Date: March 28, 2007
Padres 7, Royals 6 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 10-16

In what is sure to be his final appearance of the spring, Gil Meche was hit hard by the Padres today. He gave up seven earned runs on ten hits and two walks in six innings. And he saw his ERA climb to 7.31. Yikes. Doesn’t exactly make one feel comfortable knowing that he’s about to face Curt Schilling on opening day, does it?

Afterward, Buddy Bell said something the he said often last year after Runevlys Hernandez got hit hard. He talked about Meche’s “good stuff.” Here’s the actual quote, “I think he was having trouble getting his fastball down. I think he’s ready to go and that’s the main thing. He has good stuff, but at times he was a little erratic with his command.”

If he has good stuff, then why isn’t he getting people out? Good stuff doesn’t always equate to outs, but it usually does. I really wish Bell would stop using that phrase when it really doesn’t apply.

It was nice to see Mark Grudzielanek back at second base for the first time since his surgery. He was 0-for-3 on the day. Ross Gload was 2-for-2, and apparently has won the right to start in left field on opening day over Emil Brown. Given Brown’s recent tirades, that news is sure to make him happy.

De La Rosa Hit Hard in Loss

Game Date: March 27, 2007
Cubs 13, Royals 10 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 10-15

Jorge De La Rosa is not looking like he’s ready to take over the club’s fourth spot in the rotation. He was hit hard yesterday, giving up six runs on five hits and three walks in 1.2 innings, as he continually fell behind in the count. He now has an 8.74 ERA. I’m not sure why Bell is so convinced that De La Rosa deserves a spot in the rotation, but after the game he was still saying that he’s the number four guy.

It was nice to see Mike Sweeney hit his first home run of the spring (a three-run shot). Emil Brown and Alex Gordon both hit their second home run. Tony Pena was 2-for-2 and David DeJesus was 2-for-3.

The outfield situation is finally beginning to take shape. Bell is planning to keep Mark Teahen in right. David DeJesus will play center. Emil Brown and Ross Gload will platoon in left. And Reggie Sanders will play back up and DH. The Royals are reportedly talking with the Orioles about trading Sanders for a reliever.

Bell announced that the he is planning to hit Alex Gordon in the five hole instead of the seven hole as he plan originally. According to the Star, here’s the batting order we should be see when the season opens:

1. David DeJesus
2. Mark Grudzielanek
3. Mark Teahen
4. Mike Sweeney
5. Alex Gordon
6. Ryan Shealy
7. Ross Gload/ Emil Brown
8. John Buck/Jason LaRue
9. Tony Peña Jr.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Teahen Leads the Way

Game Date: March 26, 2007
Royals 5, Padres 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 10-14

Brandon Duckworth got knocked around a little in the game yesterday. He gave up two runs on seven hits and 2 walks in 3.1 innings. But the combination of Jimmy Gobble, Ryan Braun, Todd Wellemeyer, and Jason Shiell closed the door on the Padres and didn’t allow them to score again. Both Gobble and Braun continue to shine as we get closer to opening day. Gobble lowered his ERA to 2.53 and Braun lowered his to 1.04.

David DeJesus played for the first time since March 14 (he was out with a virus) and he was 1-for-3. Teahen, who moved back to right field, had a huge game, going 2-for-5 with a home run and 3 RBI. He even stole a base.

Brian Bannister worked five innings in a minor league game and he gave up one earned run while striking out seven. He’s working on an adjustment in his delivery and he’s still in the running for a spot at the bottom of the rotation.

In other news, the Royals sent Justin Huber and Andres Blanco to Omaha. They still have 39 guys in camp, so they have to make 14 cuts before the season opener in six days.

And how about this piece of news…the Royals are planning to give Angel Berroa time at second and third base in Omaha. Maybe they want to try add to his plummeting value for teams who desperately need infield help.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Greinke Named No. 3 Starter

Game Date: March 25, 2007
Brewers 7, Royals 6 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 9-14

After the game yesterday, Buddy Bell announced that Zack Greinke had won a spot in the Royals’ rotation. He’ll be the number three guy since Luke Hudson will probably start the season on the DL. Greinke will be behind Gil Meche and Odalis Perez. Jorge De La Rosa is slotted as the number four guy. The final spot is between Brian Bannister and Brandon Duckworth.

Yesterday, Greinke threw five innings and gave up just one earned run on four hits and one walk. He struck out seven. With an ERA of 3.32 this spring, Greinke is showing signs of becoming the pitcher we’d hoped for a couple of seasons ago. When Hudson and Elarton come back, Greinke will probably be moved down to the number five slot, and I like his chances going against the back end of other teams’ rotations.

The game yesterday had a bit of everything. Joey Gathright hit an inside the park home run. Mark Teahen lost a ball in the sun and it dropped in for an RBI double. Tony Pena Jr. made two errors, including a throwing error that cost the Royals two runs. And former Royal Tony Graffanino was ejected for yelling at home plate umpire Travis Reininger from the bench over a called third strike.

At the plate, Alex Gonzalez was 2-for-2 and raised his average to .462. And John Buck was 2-for-3 raising his average to .360.

The Royals play the Padres tonight. Mark Grudzielanek is scheduled to make his first appearance in a game since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on March 5.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Royals Blogs in Sports Illustrated

I didn’t know about this until somebody pointed it out to me today—but Royal Reflections is mentioned in the current issue of Sports Illustrated, in their annual baseball preview issue. I’m pleased to find it mentioned with a couple of high quality Royals’ blogs: Royals Review and Royals Authority, and with a Royals website called Royals News.

Royals Review is running away with the poll results as the Royals blog with the best Royals info. I think the Royals niche in the blogosphere is well covered and there’s a little something for every type of Royals fan. Some Royals blogs are heavily focused on stats. Some are more focused on news and opinions. And some are a combination of the two. I’m just glad that Royal Reflections is in the mix somewhere.

If you’d like a link to the Sports Illustrated poll, here it is. Go vote for your favorite Royals blog—no matter which one it is.

Dotel Takes the Loss

Game Date: March 24, 2007
Mariners 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 9-13

Odalis Perez got the start for the Royals today. He pitched five innings, giving up six hits, three walks, and one earned run, with two strikeouts. Ryan Braun continued his impressive spring, going one inning without giving up any hits or runs. Octavio Dotel gave up his first runs of the spring and got the loss.

At the plate, Esteban German was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Reggie Sanders was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Mark Teahen was 2-for-5. And Mike Sweeney was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Alex Gordon made his fifth error of the spring—and that’s got to be a bit of a concern. Mark Teahen made his second error of the spring in the outfield.

Tomorrow, the Royals play the Brewers. Zack Greinke will get the start.

Berroa Sent to Omaha

All of the mental mistakes, and physical errors, and lack of walks, and strikeouts, and gigantic swings finally caught up with Angel Berroa. The Royals shipped him to Omaha, clearing the way for Tony Pena Jr. to be the opening day shortstop. Frankly, I’d rather see Angel Sanchez get the starting shortstop job in Omaha and maybe Angel Berroa and Andres Blanco could battle it out in Wichita. Actually, that’s not even true. Even though the Royals are on the hook for $8.5 million over the next two seasons with Berroa, I’d rather see them cut him loose. He’s just taking a spot in the line up away from guys who are better and younger than he is.

SI on Alex Gordon

If you haven’t had a chance to read the profile article about Alex Gordon currently running on Sports Illustrated’s website, here’s a link. I especially liked the part that explained George Brett’s offer to pay the remaining $200,000 out of his own pocket after the Royals and Gordon came that close to an agreement in 2005. Here’s part of Brett’s quote:

“I’ll write you a check for the difference, out of my own pocket. But instead of up front, I’ll give you 10 grand for 20 years. I’ll do that for you, just because I want to watch you play.”

Of course, Brett didn’t end up having to do that, but think about that for a minute. The greatest Royal to ever put on the uniform was willing to pay $10,000 a year to watch somebody else play baseball. Granted, Brett works for the Royals, so he’s biased, but still. How impressive is that?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Meche, Strong in Intrasquad Game

With more rain on the way, the Royals chose to have Gil Meche stay behind to pitch in a minor league intrasquad game today. The major league team was rained out again, but Meche got in five strong scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and striking out four.

Royals Trade for Pena Jr.

How ironic is it that the addition of a guy named Tony Pena to the Royals roster could bring about the end Angel Berroa’s playing days in Kansas City? Could happen. It would make the magical 2003 season seem even further away than it already is. The Royals traded minor league pitcher Erik Cordier, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, to the Atlanta Braves today for shortstop Tony Pena Jr.

Pena, 26, has a good shot at being the Royals opening day shortstop. He’s been stuck behind Edgar Renteria in Atlanta, but he’s had a great spring. He was hitting .342 at the time of the trade. Looking at his career minor league numbers though, they are nothing to jump up and down about. In 642 games (according to the Baseball Cube), he has 25 HR, 183 RBI, 88 SB, and he has a career .253 AVG, .285 OBP, .335 SLG. The Royals’ website is reporting slightly different minor league numbers—they say he has a .252 career average.

On the plus side, his numbers have been steadily getting better. Last year in Richmond, he hit .282 with a .312 OBP. He’s strikes out too much, and he doesn’t walk enough, but at least he does walk—unlike Angel Berroa. And of course, Dayton Moore is familiar with Pena since they both came from Atlanta. Here’s what Moore had to say about him, as taken from the Royals website:

“He is having an exceptional spring. He’s a very instinctive, heady player. He’s very sure-handed and a rangy-type shortstop. He can really play shortstop. He’s very charismatic and humble. The fans in Kansas City are going to love him.”

Neither Moore or Buddy Bell are saying that this is the end for Berroa, but Berroa does have options left and he might just become the most expensive minor league shortstop in Royals history (maybe even major league history). If he refuses the option, he forfeits his contract. Andres Blanco also has options remaining. But Alex Gonzalez, on the other hand, has on out in his clause that says if he doesn’t make the roster, then he becomes a free agent. So, I’m guessing that we’ll see Tony Pena Jr. start the season at short and Gonzalez will back him up.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rained Out

They Royals had a 4-2 lead against the A’s this afternoon before the game was rained out in the fourth inning. Alex Gordon and Emil Brown already had two hits apiece before the game was called. Jorge De La Rosa struggled in his three innings of work on the mound—giving up two runs on three hits and a walk. Tomorrow afternoon, Gil Meche will get the start against Livan Hernandez.

Royals Lose a Slugfest

Game Date: March 21, 2007
A’s 11, Royals 10 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 9-12

If you get the ball up in the zone, major league hitters are going to make you pay. That’s what happened to Brian Bannister last night. In three innings, he gave up 7 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, and four home runs (three of which came in succession). With an ERA over 10.00 now, his chances of winning a spot in the rotation suddenly look much less likely.

Joakim Soria had much the same problem with location. He threw hard and his pitches had a lot of movement on them, but he didn’t locate well. He gave up two runs in three innings. But he did strike out six guys. Todd Wellemeyer and Joel Peralta both pitched a scoreless inning apiece.

Several Royals had big nights at the plate. Esteban German was 2-for-4. Ross Gload was 3-for-4 with a stolen base (he’s hitting .459 now). Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with 3 RBI. And Angel Berroa was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Speaking of Berroa, the Royals have apparently seen enough this spring to realize that he’s the same old Berroa. Bob Dutton’s article in the Star this morning says, “Club officials are believed to have put together of list of 20 or more trade candidates for evaluation and discussion purposes.” And he says that other team officials are saying that the Royals want to make a move before the season begins.

So, Moore must not be convinced that Blanco or Gonzalez are good candidates to start at short. And perhaps Angel Sanchez is a year or two away from being ready. But he has over 2,000 minor league at bats, so maybe he doesn’t figure into the Royals long term plans either.

And here’s one more bit of defensive news…Bell is thinking about keeping Mark Teahen in center field and moving David DeJesus when he comes back. Wow, I didn’t see that one coming.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gordon Makes the Team

RSTN is reporting that Alex Gordon has made the major league ball club. So, the Alex Gordon era begins.

Jirschele Pleased about New Direction

With the likes of Billy Butler, Luke Hochevar, Tyler Lumsden, Billy Buckner, Mitch Maier, Chris Lubanski, and Angel Sanchez in our minor league system, Omaha Royals manager Mike Jirschele is pleased to see a philosophical change at the Triple-A level for the Royals—formerly seen as a graveyard for 30-something year old players who went to Omaha to see their careers die.

“When you've got young kids coming up who are prospects, you’ve got guys on their way up instead of on their way out,” Jirschele said in an article in today’s Omaha World Herald. “It gives us a chance to do a lot more on-field work with those guys, and you'll see more improvement as the season goes along.”

Since I live in Omaha, I’m hoping to get out to the park often this summer to let you know how these young guys are progressing. I suspect that attendance will be higher this season than in years past—especially if Alex Gordon makes a stop here. But even if he doesn’t, I think more people will show up because they want to see the rest of these guys before they play in Kansas City.

And, as Jirschele said, the change in philosophy is good news for the coaching staff in Omaha because they will finally get the chance to help develop some of our young talent so that it doesn’t fail when it does reach Kansas City.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Greinke Solid Again

Game Date: March 19, 2007
Royals 4, White Sox 3 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 9-11

Zack Greinke appears to be on track to win a spot in the rotation. Yesterday he gave up two runs on just two hits. And he walked one. He had his slider working, and according to Joe Posnanski’s column this morning, he broke “three or four bats.” Greinke finally seems to be growing up. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, he was an overconfident kid who said and did things you’d relate to youth and inexperience—things like throwing big looping curve balls simply because they looked cool.

But here’s what he says now:
“In 2004, I was too confident. I thought all I had to do was throw a strike to get a guy out. Now, I’m confident, but I’m not so confident that I think no one could ever hit me. I have to keep at it—not just think you’re going to succeed because you’re you.”

After his performance yesterday, his ERA is 3.86. He’s struck out 14 guys in 14 innings and he only has one walk. And even though it is only spring training, he seems to have put 2006 far behind him and that’s nice to see.

Something else that was nice to see was another scoreless outing by Octavio Dotel. He pitched two innings, striking out five, and only giving up one hit. He still hasn’t allowed an earned run yet this spring.

At the plate, it was the Ross Gload show. He went 2-for-4 with a home run. And Emil Brown was 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases.

The Royals are off today.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Gordon Hits First HR of Spring

Game Date: March 18, 2007
Giants 6, Royals 5 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 8-11

Odalis Perez finally had a good outing. He pitched three strong innings, giving up no runs and no walks on two hits. Unfortunately he left early because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Hopefully it doesn’t amount to anything big.

Todd Wellemeyer gave up two runs in two innings, David Riske gave up a run in two innings, and Jason Standridge got the loss when errors by Fernando Cortez and Alex Gordon allowed the Giants to come back and win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. I find it a little odd that Bell hasn’t put Octavio Dotel in the closer’s role yet. He’s probably just seeing how Standridge performs in that role, but as the regular season draws near, I’d like to see Dotel close a couple of games.

Alex Gordon hit his first home run of the spring after working the count to 3-1. Mark Teahen was 2-for-5 with 3 RBI as he played center for the third time this spring. Esteban German was 4-for-4 with two runs scored. He’s hitting .383 for the spring and he’ll fit in nicely while Grudzielanek is on the shelf. Reggie Sanders had a couple of hits and he has his average up to .333. John Buck was 1-for-2 and remarkably has his average up to .316—which is important since Jason LaRue is hitting .381 with 3 HR. So far, Bell said that no clear favorite has emerged behind the plate.

Billy Butler is still putting up huge numbers: .448 AVG, .543 OBP, .828 SLG, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 5 BB. And he thinks he ought to be given a shot at the roster.

“There have been plenty of guys who have been ready by 20,” Butler is quoted as saying in an article on the Royals website. “I think it should be based on performance, not on age. Age is just a number. If you act above your age and play above it, I don’t think they should hold you down because of that.”

I don’t think the Royals have a problem with his age. He started as a third baseman and now that’s he’s an outfielder, the Royals want him to work on his defense in Omaha.

Zack Greinke will get the start against the White Sox this afternoon.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Aggressive?

Game Date: March 17, 2007
Diamondbacks 6, Royals 3 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 8-10

Gil Meche struggled yesterday in his three plus innings of work. He gave up four earned runs on six hits and three walks. Buddy Bell doesn’t seem at all concerned about Meche though. Oddly, he’s frustrated with the bats. In fact, he called the Royals offense “awful” this spring.


The Royals are hitting .309 this spring and they’ve scored 104 runs in 18 games—good for an average of 5.77 runs per game. Last season, the Royals ranked 20th in MLB with 757 runs scored, or 4.67 runs per game. In fact, the evil Yankees led the MLB in scoring with 930 runs scored—5.74 runs per game.

Bell didn’t say that he’s bothered by the number of runs the Royals are scoring, but instead he’s bothered by the fact that hitters aren’t being aggressive enough. Given what we’ve seen over the past few years, that almost doesn’t even seem possible, but here’s what he said:

“I think we can be better,” Bell said. “I just think we need to get better. I think we need to be more aggressive early in the count. I just think we are capable of doing a lot more offensively than we have up to this point. I understand that you kind of go through ups and downs in Spring Training, whether it is pitching or offense.”

The Royals did strike out 13 times yesterday, and according to Bell, seven or eight of those strikeouts were hitters who were caught looking, so maybe he was just blowing off steam. But I’d be shocked if one of the problems the Royals have this season is a lack of aggressiveness at the plate.

Three Royals had two hits apiece yesterday; Esteban German, Ross Gload, and Jason LaRue—who continues to have a great spring by the way. Gload stole his second base of the spring and so did LaRue.

Odalis Perez will get the start against the Giants this afternoon.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tough Day for the Royals

Game Date: March 16, 2007
Mariners 7, Royals 3 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 8-9

Brian Bannister struggled against the Mariners yesterday afternoon, giving up six earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 3.2 innings. Joakim Soria continued to pitch well, going three innings and giving up one earned run. And Octavio Dotel pitched another scoreless inning. He’s yet to give up an earned run this spring.

The Royals also struggled at the plate, going just 7-for-32. Emil Brown and Billy Butler had two hits apiece and three other Royals had one hit apiece. Joey Gathright stole his fourth base of the spring and Alex Gonzalez made his fifth error.

The Royals play the Diamondbacks this afternoon. Gil Meche will make the start for the Royals.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Teahen Plays Center for First Time

Game Date: March 15, 2007
Royals 7, Giants 6 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 8-8

Lots to talk about regarding this game. Jorge De La Rosa went four innings, giving up two earned runs. And Brandon Duckworth somehow managed to pick up the win even though he gave up three runs in three innings. But the stories yesterday weren’t centered around the pitching staff.

Mark Teahen got the start in center field for the first time this spring. When Bell was asked why, he said that the Royals will need somebody to back up David DeJesus if Joey Gathright doesn’t make the team. Wow. I didn’t see that one coming—especially since Gathright is hitting .400 right now. But I like the idea that so many of our marginal players aren’t necessarily safe like they have been in seasons past. Teahen did just fine, making three putouts.

Alex Gordon continues to impress—going 3-for-4 and raising his average to .429. Esteban German is still hitting. He went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .308. And Mike Sweeney finally got in on the action, going 2-for-4 with 3 RBI.

Angel Berroa, on the other hand, went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. And he had committed an error. Bell is now saying that Berroa could lose his starting job. Given Berroa’s numbers this spring, the move would be justified. He’s hitting .269. And in 26 at bats, he has struck out 12 times, with no walks. For all the talk about a new and improved Angel Berroa, he’s putting up numbers that look quite familiar. Bell said that Alex Gonzalez and Andres Blanco are pushing Berroa right now.

The Royals play the Mariners this afternoon. Brian Bannister will go against Miguel Batista.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Greinke Has Solid Outing

Game Date: March 14, 2007
Royals 6, Rockies 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 7-8

Royals’ fans had lots to be encouraged about yesterday. Zack Greinke finally found a groove and he threw four scoreless innings against the Rockies. And he didn’t walk anybody. He understands that he’s going to have to earn the fifth spot in the rotation—especially in light of how Soria and Bannister have performed this spring.

Octavio Dotel threw another scoreless inning yesterday. He still hasn’t given up an earned run yet this spring. Joel Peralta threw another scoreless inning, and he too has yet to give up an earned run this spring. Jimmy Gobble put up another scoreless inning and lowered his ERA to 2.57. Ken Ray was the only pitcher to get hit hard yesterday. He gave up two earned runs in a third of an inning.

Luke Hudson got some work in a game with Omaha yesterday against Wichita. He threw five scoreless innings, giving up five hits, one walk, and striking out four.

The Mark Teahen and Alex Gordon show continued at the plate. Teahen was 2-for-2 with a home run (his second of the spring), 2 RBI, and a stolen base (his third). Gordon was 2-for-3, bringing his average to .375. And Andres Blanco continues to surprise people at the plate. He was 1-for-4 yesterday and he’s hitting .323.

A few Royals are off to slow starts at the plate this spring. David DeJesus was 0-for-3 yesterday and he lowered his average to .200. He’s a .292 career hitter, and I don’t expect that to change this season. Mike Sweeney was 0-for-4 yesterday and his average is now .231. Spring means absolutely nothing regarding Sweeney. He’s a little behind everybody because of his limited action, but the main thing is to keep him healthy as the regular season begins. Everybody knows that Mike can hit. Emil Brown was 1-for-1 yesterday, bringing his average up to .167. He’ll probably be fine once the season starts, but even if he isn’t, Reggie Sanders could easily take his spot.

The Royals play the Giants this afternoon. Jorge De La Rosa will go against Barry Zito.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Angels Hit Royals Pitching Again

Game Date: March 13, 2007
Angels 13, Royals 7 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 6-8

Thankfully, most of the Royal pitchers who got clobbered by Angel hitters yesterday won’t make the 25-man roster. Todd Wellemeyer, who is trying to make the rotation, gave up five earned runs on six hits in 2.2 innings. His ERA is now 9.39. At this point, he better be happy if he makes the team. Jason Shiell gave up three earned runs in one inning. Jason Standridge gave up two earned runs in an inning. And somebody named A. Santos (I can’t even find the guy’s first name), gave up two runs on four hits in one inning.

On the positive side of things, Royals hitters did their job. David DeJesus was 2-for-3. Mark Teahen was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Ryan Shealy was 3-for-3 and brought his average up to .414. And ten other players had one hit apiece.

A couple of other things to note about this game—Mark Teahen stole his second base of the spring and Alex Gordon committed his third error.

Odalis Perez worked in a minor league game yesterday, throwing four scoreless innings on four hits, no walks, and five strike outs.

Zack Greinke is set to go against the Rockies this afternoon.

Royals Cut 15 Players

Here are the first 15 cuts made by the Royals yesterday. All of these players were sent to their minor league camp.

Luke Hochevar
Mitch Maier
Danny Christensen
Carlos Rosa
Dewon Brazelton
Billy Buckner
Wayne Franklin
Roberto Giron
Tyler Lumsden
Matt Wright
Damaso Espino
Jared Price
Max St. Pierre
Graham Koonce
Richard Lewis

This drops the roster to 45 players.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Royal Way

If you haven’t had a chance to watch some of the interviews on the Royals website with former players such as Willie Wilson, Jeff Montgomery, and Brian McRae, I’d highly encourage you to do so. They’ve been in camp this year, trying to encourage the current generation of players to hold their heads up because this organization was once top notch, and it can be again. Wilson was overheard by one reporter telling outfielders that they need to “keep the excellence going.”

I love to see this happening. Just two seasons ago, the Royals held their 20-year anniversary celebration of their 1985 World Championship. Players on the 2005 roster reportedly had little interest in watching the festivities or even in conversing at length with former players who came back for the celebration. Apparently, what happened in the past was of no consequence to them. Of course, that shouldn’t be the case, but it has been for far too long.

In one of the videos, Wilson pointed to guys like Amos Otis who taught him about the rich Royal tradition. And he said that Frank White learned it from Cookie Rojas. And now, Wilson finally has the chance to try to pass it along himself because Dayton Moore is involving former Royals in camp this year. Apparently he thinks that tradition can be a great motivator. As Moore has been introducing former Royals to the current players, he’s been reading their stats aloud. And it seems like some of the players are finally starting to “get it.”

If you watch the video featuring Wilson, you’ll see pride, in a good way, seeping through his eyes as the reporter asks him how current players are responding as they hear stories and statistics from about the glory days. Maybe the players see what I saw in his eyes. Wilson said that they are asking what it felt like to play for a winning team, and they want to know how fans received them in Kansas City. So, finally, we have a connection between the past and the present. George Brett has always been someone the guys could turn to if they really wanted to know about the club’s history, but given their attitude during the 20-year anniversary celebration, you have to wonder if any of them ever took advantage of it.

Since coming to Kansas City, Dayton Moore has reportedly been using the phrase “The Royal Way” and I like it. I’m old enough to remember seeing the Royals play in the late 1970’s and all the way through their glory years. This organization has been horribly mismanaged from the top down ever since Ewing Kauffman died in 1993, and the on-field results followed suit. It’s too early to know whether Moore will right the ship after it has been allowed to drift off course for 13 years. And even though the Royals may be a year or two away from competing, Moore appears to be on the verge of slowing the ship down enough to begin making the turn back towards baseball relevance.

Roster Cuts

The first round of roster cuts is due this morning. The Royals currently have 60 guys in camp and they are planning to trim that number down 50 or 45.

Angels Hit Brazelton Hard

Game Date: March 12, 2007
Angels 11, Royals 4 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 6-7

Gil Meche got the start for the Royals in this one. He went four innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits. He had four strikeouts and no walks. The two runs he gave up game on a home run in the fourth inning when he left a slider up in the zone. He’s liking what he sees regarding his new delivery that McClure has him working on.

“I’m slowly working into this new delivery they’re trying to get me into, as far as not landing on my heel,” Meche is quoted as saying on the Royals website. “And I tell you, when I do it, it’s something good to see. The ball jumps out of my hand, throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters.”

His 2.57 ERA is probably better than anybody expected it to be. Now let’s hope that he can find the same amount of success in the regular season.

I’m guessing that Dewon Brazelton’s shot at the rotation is gone after his outing yesterday. He gave up six earned runs in one inning and his ERA rose to 15.00.

Alex Gordon pinch ran for Sweeney and he got to hit once, going 0-for-1. Esteban German was 2-for-3 and Joey Gathright was 2-for-2. You have to hand it to Gathright. For a guy who doesn’t hit much, he’s at .400 right now.

Soria, Gobble Throw Scorless Innings

Game Date: March 11, 2007
Rockies 5, Royals 4 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 6-6

Joakim Soria was the story for the Royals in this one. He threw four scoreless innings, during which he only allowed one hit and no walks. His ERA this spring is 1.12, which can’t hurt as he tries to nail down the number five spot in the rotation. Jimmy Gobble pitched a couple of scoreless innings and he’s settling into middle relief nicely (he has two holds and a 3.00 ERA)—just like he did last season. Joel Peralta threw a scoreless inning and it was good to see him back in action. The Royals were in good shape in this game until Roberto Giron gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth. Giron is a non-roster invitee who isn’t helping his case to make the team. After this outing, his ERA ballooned to 19.29.

At the plate, Justin Huber was 2-for-3 with a walk. He’s hitting .389 now. Billy Butler was 1-for-1 with a home run and 2 RBI. Butler is expected to be moved to the minor league roster this morning, even though he’s hitting .556. The Royals never intended for him to break camp with the big league team. If he continues to hit in Omaha, he may be up after the break. But the Royals seem content to let him play in Omaha this season, which wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gordon Appears to be Okay

By now you’ve probably heard that the Alex Gordon injury scare has passed. His shoulder was feeling better yesterday. He’s planning to do some stretching, get some ice for it, and take anti-inflammatories. The Royals still plan to keep him out of the line up for a couple of days just to make sure everything is okay.

Brian Bannister had a bit of a scare too. He was hit in the knee by a line drive in a “B” game on Sunday. He leg was numb for a while, but he isn’t expected to miss a start.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shealy Leads Royals to Win

Game Date: March 10, 2007
Royals 6, Cubs 5 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 6-5

Jorge De La Rosa looked a bit shaky (he gave up two hits and walked two guys) at times during his three innings of work against the Cubs yesterday, but he only gave up one earned run. John Bale, the left-handed set up guy the Royals signed during the off season, complained of back or neck problems after the game. Let’s hope he’s not another early casualty of spring.

Ryan Shealy was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI. David DeJesus hit his first home run of the spring. Esteban German was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases. Billy Butler was 0-for-1 and he’s still hitting .529. And Alex Gonzalez (the other Alex) was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI filling in for Gordon at third. The Royals did most of their offensive damage against Mark Prior, who looked awful. He gave up four earned runs, on four hits and three walks.

The Royals play the Rockies today in Tucson. Joakim Soria will get the start.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gordon Injures Shoulder

If you noticed that Alex Gordon was not in the line up yesterday or today, you weren’t the only one. Sports Illustrated is reporting that he is going to miss a few games because he has a sore shoulder. The injury may have happened when he dove for a ball against the Angels on Friday or he might have just slept on it in an odd fashion. But the Royals don’t appear to be taking any chances. They are saying he’ll probably have an MRI. Losing Gordon for a long period of time would be nightmare for this franchise.

In other injury news, Leo Nunez was also hurt in the game on Friday. He was hit on the right wrist by a line drive and it caused a hairline fracture. He’s currently in a split and is expected to miss a month or more. He was probably a long shot when it came to making a spot on the 25-man roster out of spring training anyway. He has a 6.99 career ERA in 48 appearances and his ERA this spring is 9.00.

Royals Drop Two

Game Date: March 9, 2007
Angels 9, Royals 6 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 5-5

Luke Hudson had another strong start, giving up one earned run in 3.2 innings and in the process he lowered his ERA to 2.70. Ryan Braun pitched another scoreless inning. He has yet to give up an earned run this spring. Several other Royal relievers didn’t fare so well. Ed Yarnall, Leo Nunez, and Daniel Christensen each gave up two runs.

This game had a little of everything—including a balk that led to Mike Scioscia’s ejection. How funny is that? He got tossed in spring training for arguing a balk.

Justin Huber hit his first home run of the spring. Mike Sweeney drove in his first run of the spring. Alex Gordon walked three times. And Emil Brown is finally showing signs of life. He was 2-for-4 and that brought his average up to .200.

The Royals got their hits, but the Royals pitching couldn’t hold the Angels down.

Game Date: March 9, 2007
Brewers 7, Royals 6 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 5-4

With a couple of exceptions, the Royals played their “B” line up in this one and hung in pretty well—even though they didn’t draw a single walk. Zack Greinke got the start and gave up one earned run in three innings. He struck out four. Joey Gathright gave the Royals a lead in the top of the ninth with a two-run single, but Wayne Franklin blew the save—his second blown save of the spring, and he saw his ERA rise to 19.29.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Nelson to Have Shoulder Surgery

Joe Nelson is going to miss the first two to three months of the season. He needs to have surgery on his right shoulder after finding out that he injured his labrum.

This could be a blow the Royals bullpen. Last season, he was one of the very few bright spots out there. He had 9 saves in 48 appearances and he posted a 4.43 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. Opponents hit just .226 against him. Nelson wasn’t guaranteed a spot in the pen to open the season due to the many acquisitions the Royals made in the off-season, but I liked his chances. Let’s hope he comes back strong.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Royals Continue to Hit

Game Date: March 8, 2007
Royals 11, Mariners 3 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 5-3

The Royals continued their offensive explosion today with an 11-3 win against the Mariners. Alex Gordon was 2-for-2 with a triple and 4 RBI. Ryan Shealy was 2-for-2. And Jason LaRue hit his third home run of the spring. Angel Berroa hit his first and so did Billy Butler.

Odalis Perez got off to a shaky start. He gave up two runs in the first inning, but then he settled down and only gave up two more hits to the next twelve hitters. Todd Wellemeyer, who is a long shot for the rotation, only allowed one hit in three innings of scoreless work. Octavio Dotel threw another scoreless inning without allowing anybody to reach base. And David Riske pitched a scoreless inning—in spite of giving up two hits.

Tomorrow the Royals will play the Brewers at 2:05 PM, and then play the Angels at 8:05 PM.

Royals Pound Out 15 Hits

Game Date: March 7, 2007
Royals 10, White Sox 5 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 4-3

Dewon Brazelton, who has downright scarey bad numbers at the major league level (8-25, 6.38 ERA, 1.68 WHIP), gave up one run on four hits in his start for the Royals yesterday against the White Sox. Luke Hochevar followed him with two scoreless innings. Tyler Lumsden did the same. Bell and McClure must have been most pleased by the fact that Royals pitchers only gave up one base on balls.

At the plate, the Royals pounded White Sox pitching for 15 hits. Gordon was 1-for-3 with an RBI. Blanco was 2-for-2 with 2 RBI. Huber was 1-for-2 with 2 RBI. And eleven other players had one hit.

Gil Meche started in the “B” game against the Rangers. He threw 64 pitches—giving up one run on four hits. He didn’t walk anybody and he struck out three. He is still struggling with his mechanics though. He’s landing on his heal rather than the ball of his foot. McClure continues to work with him to make the fix.

Scott Elarton threw 51 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday. Plans are to keep him in Arizona for extended spring training because of the cold weather in Omaha and Wichita.

This afternoon, Odalis Perez will start against the Mariners.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Royals Win in 10

Game Date: March 6, 2007
Royals 3, A's 2 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 3-3

Brian Banniser looked good in his three innings of work (43 pitches) against Oakland yesterday afternoon. He gave up two hits, one walk, and no earned runs three innings. But he admitted to getting tired in the third inning. He said it was because he was sick last week and hasn't been able to do his normal cardio work.

Unfortunately, Bannister hit Mike Piazza above his left elbow early in the game, and Piazza had to leave the game. Bannister said that he was just trying to come inside on a guy who likes to get extended. I like Bannister's attitude. How many pitchers have we had in Kansas City over the past few seasons who seemed downright afraid to come inside?

Joakim Soria gave up an earned run in two innings worth of work and the bullpen looked incredible after that. The combination of Ken Ray, Ryan Braun, Jason Standridge, Leo Nunez, and Max Wright gave up no runs in the final five innings on two walks and one hit. Wright hit Lou Merloni late in the game just about the ear flap and it made a horrible noise. Merloni was taken to a hospital afterward. Let's hope he's okay.

The Royals banged out eleven hits, two of which where solo home runs by Jason LaRue, who surely helped his case for winning the starting catching job. Reggie Sanders was 2-for-2. Alex Gonzalez, who got the start at third (and booted a ball), was 1-for-1. And Alex Gordon was 1-for-1.

Gil Meche is scheduled to pitch four innings against the Rangers today in a "B" game. Dewon Brazelton will get the start in the "A" game against the White Sox.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Royals Roundtable II

If you get a chance, go check out Royals Roundtable II over at Royals Ingenuity. Garth has assembled a banner crew of Royals experts to comment about the coming season. In case you missed it, here's a link to the first round of the Royals Roundtable that was posted last December.  

Shealy Hits Second HR of Spring

Royals 9, Padres 4 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 2-3

Mike Sweeney saw his first game action this spring yesterday against the Padres. He went 1-for-3 before Bell lifted him for a pinch runner. Other hitting notes include:

  • Billy Butler was 1-for-1 and is hitting .625.
  • Andres Blanco was 1-for-2 and is hitting .556.
  • Ross Gload picked up two more hits to improve his batting average to .400.
  • Ryan Shealy hit his second home run of the spring and drove in three more runs. He leads the team with 6 RBI.
  • Alex Gordon was 1-for-2.
  • Mark Teahen was 1-for-3.
  • As a team, the Royals drew 7 BB.

Jorge De La Rosa started for the Royals and he was hit hard. He gave up five hits and two earned runs in 2.2 innings. His ERA stands at 6.75. Brandon Duckworth had another good outing, going two innings and not giving up any hits or walks. David Riske gave up one run in an inning. And Jimmy Gobble walked two and gave up one hit in two scoreless innings.

The Royals take on the A's this afternoon at 2:05 PM.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Gordon Gets First Hit of Spring

We got to see something new and something old in the 5-0 loss against the Rangers yesterday. The Royals new third baseman, Alex Gordon, got his first hit of spring training. That's a plus. On the other hand, Angel Berroa got picked off first base. Feels like mid-August in that regard, doesn't it?

Luke Hudson started the game. Even though he struggled with his control early on, he settled down to give up two hits, one base on balls, and one earned run in three innings. Not a bad way to start the spring for Hudson. Zack Greinke followed him and didn't look nearly as good. He gave up three earned runs on four hits in two innings. We got to see Octavio Dotel is his first appearance of the spring. He pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Jorge De La Rosa gets the start this afternoon at 2:00 PM against Jake Peavy of the Padres.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Grudzielanek to have Knee Surgery

Sports Illustrated is reporting that Mark Grudzielanek injured his left knee before the game yesterday. He's scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery tomorrow and the Royals are saying that no timetable exists regarding his return. I'm guessing that Esteban German will fill in for him, and maybe even start the season at second if Grud isn't able to go. That would leave the Royals in a position of needing to find another utility infielder.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Meche, Hochevar Shine in Debuts

Yeah, it's only spring training. And no, it doesn't mean much. Unless of course Gil Meche had given up eight runs in an inning and a third. Then it would have been one of the leading stories coming out of spring training yesterday. Instead, Meche threw three scoreless innings against the Rangers, giving up two hits and a walk.

Here's what he said afterward: "Three innings is something I've never done before in my first time out. I was pleased to see my velocity stay the same in the third inning as it was in the first. It was a good day."

Indeed it was, the Royals won 8-6.

Luke Hochevar was also impressive in a two inning stint during a "B" game against the Rangers. He threw two scoreless innings, giving up two hits, no walks, and striking out two--one of whom was Sammy Sosa, who later said, "I've got to tip my cap to him."

Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek saw their first game action yesterday. Sanders was 1-for-2 with an RBI as the DH. Grudzielanek was 1-for-2. Ryan Shealy blasted his first home run of the spring--a three run shot. Alex Gonzalez was 2-for-2 with an RBI. And there's no reason to panic just yet, but Alex Gordon was 0-for-4.

In other news, the Royals signed their remaining players, so everybody is signed and ready to go.

Odalis Perez is expected to start today against the Rangers.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Royals Drop Spring Opener

The Royals didn't struggle to score runs in their first game of the spring against the Angels. They scored six times--the first coming off the bat of Angel Berroa, who has a new crouch batting stance, and a little more patience. He actually worked the count to 3-2 before singling in the run. Unfortunately, the bullpen looked to be in 2006 mid-season form--giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose the game 7-6. (Here's a link to the box score.)

Ken Ray walked two and gave up two earned runs. John Bale was hit hard in his inning of work (3 H, 2 ER). Ryan Braun and Neal Musser both threw one scoreless inning before Wayne Franklin give up three runs and the game. Brian Bannister and Joakim Soria both threw two scoreless innings to start the game. And neither walked anybody. So, at least a couple of guys who are vying for a spot in the rotation are off to a good start.

Game Notes:

  • Shane Costa went 2-for-2. In an already over-crowded outfield, he's going to have to have the spring of his life to make the opening day roster. And even then, he'll be a fifth outfielder at best unless Sanders is traded.
  • Mark Teahen and Ryan Shealy were 1-for-3.
  • Alex Gordon was 0-for-2 with a run scored.

The Royals play the Rangers this afternoon. Gil Meche will make his debut in Royal blue.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

First Game of the Spring

The Royals first game of the spring is being broadcast on WHB right now. If you are outside of the Kansas City area, you can listen by going to the WHB website and clicking on "Live Broadcast" on the top right hand side of the page.

Clicky Web Analytics