March 8, 2017 •.CBSSports.com http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions LOCAL Moose socks first spring homer against Reds
March 7, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan & Mark Sheldon/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/218318242/eugenio-suarez-homer-powers-reds-past-royals/ Eugenio Suarez hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning as the Reds claimed a 7-3 victory over the Royals on Tuesday at Goodyear Ballpark.
Mike Moustakas, back at DH after playing his first Cactus League game at third base on Monday, hit his first spring homer in his first at-bat for the Royals. And outfielder Billy Burns homered as well, his first since Sept. 25, 2015, when he was with the A's.
It was tied at 3 with two out in the fifth when Suarez lifted an 0-1 pitch from right-hander Chris Young to right-center for the homer that put Cincinnati ahead by two runs. It was Suarez's second homer of the spring. Young also gave up Ryan Raburn's fourth-inning solo homer to left field on a 1-0 pitch.
The Reds added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, which proved key when reliever Lisalverto Bonilla had the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth. Bonilla escaped with a game-ending double play as Cincinnati won its fifth consecutive game after going 0-6 to start the spring.
"We were able to get to the power a little bit with Raburn and Suarez, and hit some balls on the screws," manager Bryan Price said. "And again, that second-tier [of subs] comes in and adds some runs, got some big knocks. Those add-on runs made a difference in that situation for Bonilla to not have to come in there in a one-run ballgame."
Left-hander Travis Wood, fighting for the No. 5 spot in the Royals' rotation with Young and Nathan Karns, went 2 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and two runs.
Young pitched three innings and yielded three earned runs, three hits and one walk to go with five strikeouts.
Reds prospect Sal Romano allowed Moustakas' homer -- his only run given up over three innings with two hits and four strikeouts. Reliever Michael Lorenzen followed and gave up two earned runs and three hits over 1 2/3 innings. Burns hit a 3-2 pitch off of Lorenzen for his homer to right field.
"That was really cool to see Billy get his first homer," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He smoked it. And good to see Moose get that first one out of the way."
Joey Votto had two singles and he also made a slick defensive play. On Raul Mondesi's slow grounder to first base in the fifth, Votto charged the ball and made a no-look flip with his glove to Lorenzen covering the bag for the putout.
Up next for Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy, likely the No. 2 starter in the rotation, will get the start for the Royals in an exhibition game against Venezuela of the World Baseball Classic at 2:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Surprise Stadium. The Royals will go up against two teammates for Venezuela -- catcher Salvador Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Up next for Reds: Watch live on MLB.TV as top pitching prospect Amir Garrett will get another chance to make his bid for the rotation when the Reds face the Angels on Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. ET. Garrett worked three scoreless innings in his previous outing. Also due to pitch are Drew Storen and Austin Brice.
Wood, Young display glimpses against Reds
March 7, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/218380890/royals-wood-young-have-moments-vs-reds/ The battle for the fifth spot in the Royals' rotation marched on again on Tuesday as left-hander Travis Wood and right-hander Chris Young wobbled a bit, but both had impressive moments as well in the Royals' 7-3 loss to the Reds.
Wood gave up four hits and two runs over 2 2/3 innings. He threw 49 pitches, 34 for strikes.
"It felt good," Wood said. "Pitches were doing pretty much what I wanted to. Left a couple pitches up.
"But getting the arm strength up is big. That's what you're trying to do. Obviously, I wouldn't like to give up any runs. Fastball command was a little off. But overall, I'll take it."
Young went three innings and gave up three runs, including a solo homer and a two-run blast.
But Young struck out five as his slider at times overmatched the Reds.
"It was pretty good, had good depth," Young said. "It's kind of hard to tell down here with your pitches because of the dry air, but I thought it was pretty good. Fastball command could have been a little better."
Royals manager Ned Yost liked what he saw from Wood and Young.
"Woody threw pretty good," Yost said. "And Chris' slider was fantastic. Left a couple of fastballs up that they took advantage of, but his slider was really good."
Karns battling to earn spot in Royals' rotation
March 7, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/218318498/nathan-karns-eyes-spot-in-royals-rotation/ For a while over the offseason, it seemed certain that newcomer Nathan Karns would have a rotation spot locked up.
After the tragic loss of Yordano Ventura, the Royals essentially were down to four starters -- Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas and Chris Young.
Karns, the right-hander acquired in from the Mariners in a trade for Jarrod Dyson, seemed a lock for the No. 5 spot, at worst.
That changed in the final weeks leading into Spring Training. The Royals signed right-hander Jason Hammel, who will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 starter. And then they signed left-hander Travis Wood, who signed primarily to get a chance to be a starter again.
Suddenly, Karns was back to competing for a rotation spot along with Young and Wood.
"It doesn't scare me or change my approach," Karns said of the competition. "I feel like if you want to be a starter, you have to be one of the best five in camp.
"It doesn't matter if it's one of three guaranteed spots or one of five. I have to come in here and prove myself. Whether that happens or not is up to me."
In his first two outings, Karns has been nearly flawless. He retired the first 14 hitters he saw this spring and threw five straight scoreless innings before getting nicked for two runs.
"It's a nice competition," he said. "I enjoy it. I'm getting to know these guys. There's a lot to take out of this whole competition for this spot. At the end of the day, you have to compete and want the job.
"Whoever [wins it], at least I'm in that group."
So far, Karns is pleased with the early results he has shown.
"It kind of shows the hard work in the offseason is paying off," he said. "Now, I just need to maintain it and progress. I'm pretty excited about it."
Alexander feels stronger, managing diabetes
March 7, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/218318496/scott-alexander-managing-work-with-diabetes/ It was June of 2016 and Royals left-hander Scott Alexander kept feeling weaker and weaker.
And Alexander, 27, kept losing weight, rapidly.
At first, he didn't think much of it. But finally on a road trip with Triple-Omaha, Alexander, who worked one inning on Tuesday against the Reds and did not give up an earned run, got so weak that team trainers urged him to drive back to Omaha to get a blood test.
The results showed he had a blood-sugar level in the 300s. He had Type 1 diabetes.
Alexander was shocked and relieved at the same time. At least he knew what the problem was and how to treat it.
"I had noticed for quite a while that I wasn't recovering the same way and not feeling strong," Alexander said. "So it was good to get the right diagnosis.
"I'm still learning as I go along. I've had a lot of help here with the Royals. Had a lot of help with my friends and family. We'll see how it goes."
The biggest adjustment for Alexander is basic lifestyle changes in his diet.
"I take insulin and watch what I eat," he said. "I limit my sugar intake and carbs. It's been different. Still learning. I'll see how it goes. Right now, I feel good."
The Royals' coaching staff has seen a change in Alexander on the mound.
"He's been really impressive," manager Ned Yost said. "Stronger. Like what I've seen."
Alexander was dominant in his first three outings, tossing three scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
"So far it's been good," Alexander said. "First couple of outings, I just wanted to go out and throw strikes. I'm just trying to keep doing that."
Yet, Alexander knows he faces some stiff competition for one, maybe two bullpen spots. The Royals still have over 20 pitchers in camp battling for those spots.
"We have a lot of good pitchers here," Alexander said. "They all work hard. They all bring a lot to the table.
"I'm just going to do whatever I can do to get myself ready. I'm not going to try to think about it too much. I can't control how the other guys throw. I can control what I do."
At the very least, Alexander goes in to the fight with a more level playing field, health-wise.
"Compared to last year, I feel a lot better," he said. "We'll see how it translates. So far so good."
Battle for fifth spot in Royals’ rotation remains unsettled after 7-3 loss to Reds
March 7, 2017 By Pete Grathoff/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article137042223.html A dozen Cactus League contests have been played, but the competition for the fifth spot in the Royals rotation remains wide open.
Left-hander Travis Wood and right-hander Chris Young each made their second appearances of the spring in the Royals’ 7-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. There was good to go with the bad in both outings.
Wood made his first spring start and cruised through the first two innings, allowing a single in the first inning. But the Reds opened the third with a single, triple and another single, although the last one came when Wood slipped after fielding a chopper by the fleet-footed Billy Hamilton.
After a sacrifice fly brought home a run, Wood got Joey Votto to ground out, but Adam Duvall drew a walk and Wood’s day was done.
Andrew Edwards came on and struck out Eugenio Suarez to end the threat for the Royals.
Wood allowed two runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings with a walk and no strikeouts.
“It went good, felt good,” Wood said. “The pitches were doing pretty much what I wanted. I left a couple of pitches up in the zone that they hit. Other than that, felt good.”
Cincinnati’s Ryan Rayburn greeted Young with a home run that cleared the the bullpen in left-center field to start the fourth inning. Young also gave up a two-run homer to Eugenio Sanchez in the fifth that gave the Reds a 5-3 lead.
The homers are an unpleasant memory of a year ago, but Young also struck out five in his three innings as Reds batters flailed at his slider, which manager Ned Yost raved about after the game.
“There were some good ones today,” Young said. “I was able to throw it to both sides of the plate. It had really good depth to it. In Arizona, it’s hard to judge sometimes, because of the dry air and the conditions, you don’t know if it’s going to go across or if it’s going to go down, especially the breaking balls.
“Today it was good. I’m just trying to stay on top of it and for the most part it was pretty good.”
Lefty Scott Alexander gave up an unearned run in the seventh after allowing two hits and two errors were committed.
Mike Moustakas clubbed a one-out homer in the first inning off Sal Romano. ... Alex Gordon, who played right field, had a single and lined out hard to left field in his three at-bats. ... Paulo Orlando went 2 for 3.
The Young Guys
Raul Mondesi started at shortstop and was zero for three. ... Jorge Bonifacio lined a double to left in his lone at-bat.... Outfielder Billy Burns hit a solo home run to right field. “It was cool to see Billy hit a home run ... ” Yost said. “He smoked it.”
Royals’ Ned Yost readies for season without his biggest fan — his mother
March 7, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article137096948.html A few weeks ago, on a quiet morning drive to the ballpark, Royals manager Ned Yost reached for his cell phone. The move was instinctive, an act of muscle memory that had yet to fade. He had, after all, been making this call for years.
He would call on a cloudless morning in Arizona. He would call on an afternoon back in Kansas City. He would call on late nights in Milwaukee, after a walk-off victory had roused the locals and the adrenalin was still pumping. Usually, his mother was still awake, too.
For years, the routine persisted, through cities and jobs, winning and losing. If Yost was driving to a baseball stadium, and there were a few minutes to spare, he would reach for his phone and call his mom.
But on a morning last month, as another season beckoned, his hand stopped. All winter, he had done this, he said. He couldn’t shake the habit.
“I must have reached for my phone 30 times to call her,” Yost said. “And you realize: ‘Well … ’ ”
On a Wednesday in November, Yost’s mother, Lael “Lee” Moffitt, died at home in Georgia. She was 83 and had battled a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The condition severely limited her breathing and ravaged her quality of life. The end provided both heartache and relief, Yost said.
“She was just miserable,” Yost said. “So it was just something that, ‘OK, it’s over now. It’s good. She can breathe again.’ ”
Just four months removed from the death of his mother, Yost still vacillates between the two emotions. He misses his mom and the bond they shared. His faith tells him she is in a better place. In his eighth year at the helm in Kansas City, he has prepared himself for his first baseball season without her voice.
“I called her every day,” he said.
So on a morning here in late February, Yost sat inside his office and reflected on their relationship in an interview with The Star. In the months since her passing, he has tried to look at things in a rational way. His mother lived a long and good life. There was no need for her to suffer any longer. Yet a sense of grief remains, the universal feeling of watching a parent grow old.
“It was tough,” he said.
On most days, Lee Moffitt was her son’s most passionate supporter, planning her summer days around the Royals baseball schedule. On others, she was his fiercest defender, fretting over negative articles in the media.
She could also be his most ardent managerial critic. In his early days as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, Yost says, his mother would call and ask why he called upon a certain reliever in a close game — not unlike a frustrated fan at home. The names would change, of course, but one day Moffitt questioned his use of closer Derrick Turnbow.
“Why did you put that guy in the game?” Yost remembers his mom saying. “Why did you put Turnbow in the game right there? He gave it up the night before.
“I’d tell her: ‘Look, dumb old lady, if you keep this up I’m going to hang up on you right now.’ So she learned how to handle it all with me managing.”
Yost laughs as he finishes the story. It’s a happy one. There are others like it, too. For his 61 years on this earth, his mother was a constant source of love and support. As the years passed, he came to realize how similar they were.
A native of Eureka, Calif., Moffitt ran a collection of pharmacies in the Bay Area with Yost’s stepfather. Later in life, she became a successful real estate agent in nearby Pleasanton. She cherished days on the golf course. She adored her family. She grew to love her son’s favorite sport. When Yost’s father died in a trucking accident when he was a junior in high school, Moffitt was there, following and encouraging her son’s baseball career.
“She was one of those moms that was at just about every game,” Yost said.
As the years passed, her interest only swelled. When Yost debuted with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980, his mother was elated. When Yost coached for the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s and early 2000s, his mother and stepdad, William, relished the trips to the World Series. For every appearance, he would buy a commemorative pendant and give it to his mom. The tradition continued when the Royals made the World Series in 2014.
“She got to the point where she couldn’t get up and down the stairs at all, so she stayed in Georgia for ’14 and ’15,” Yost said. “But she really got excited, because every time we would go to the World Series, I would buy her the little pendant.
“She was so excited in ’14 that she was going to get a pendant. And then in ’15 … she was going to get another.”
In 2015, the pendant accompanied a championship trophy. In the final days of the World Series, as the Royals finished off the New York Mets, Moffitt watched back at home, staying up late into the night.
“She’d have four or five friends come over,” Yost said. “And they’d sit there and watch each game and the World Series.”
The final months were the toughest. As Yost finished out the 2016 season, he could sense his mother beginning to slip. His sister Karen lived down the street and kept a close eye as a care-giver. But as Yost arrived back in Georgia, his mother’s condition had worsened. She had difficulty pushing the carbon monoxide out of her lungs, which caused her to become disoriented. One doctor described it as trying to “breathe through a stirring straw,” Yost said. The family elected to move her to an assisted living facility. The experiment lasted just a week.
“When I got home at the end of the year, she had got to the point where she could hardly talk,” Yost said. “I’d drive into Atlanta on Sunday and just sit with her for six hours. She couldn’t say much, because it was just a fight to breathe.”
In November, the family moved Moffitt to another assisted living setup. Days later, there were more complications. Moffitt was rushed to the hospital. The doctors told the family to prepare for the end.
“My mom opened her eyes at one point and looked over, and the nurse asked her really quick: ‘Honey, do you want that tube out?’ ” Yost said. “And she just nodded her head like this.”
Yost and his family took Moffitt home that night. She passed away peacefully at just past 1:30 a.m. She was buried in the family plot back in Eureka, Calif.
A few months later, Yost departed for spring training. As he prepared for another season, the memories lingered.
“There would be a great game that we’d play and win late with like a walk-off homer,” Yost said. “I’d call her on the way home, and she’d still be so fired up because we’d won. I’d say: ‘You see that win?’
“ ‘You bet I saw that one.’ ”
Moments later, Yost finished the story. His mother never met his players, he says. She didn’t know them or their families. But she cared for them anyway. She talked of them like she did her grandkids.
She watched from home, and she cherished the victories, and she waited for the phone calls that followed. As another season begins, Yost can still her voice.
“She loved the boys,” he said. “She loved rooting for them. She knew them all, even though she never really met any of them.”
“She loved Salvy. She loved Hos. She loved Dyson. She loved them all.”
Royals’ Duffy, Moustakas lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fans
March 7, 2017 By Shelby Hyde/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/k-zone/article137092433.html A Royals spring training workout has just ended, and pitcher Danny Duffy moves about the clubhouse in his official Kobe Bryant socks.
Six hours east of the Staples Center, in a facility that sees more short hops than jump shots, passion for the Lakers runs deep.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has bled Lakers purple and gold since growing up in Southern California.
For as long as Duffy can remember, he has cheered for the Lakers. In the year he turned 8, Bryant joined the team, and Duffy picked the 18-year-old prodigy as his favorite player.
Proof is in his locker: It contains jerseys cataloging Bryant’s career. One is red and white with the number “33” representing Bryant’s years at Lower Merion High School near Philadelphia. Another pair depict numbers Bryant wore with the Lakers: a gold Lakers jersey with a purple “8” on the back, and a purple Lakers jersey emblazoned with a gold and white “24.”
And those socks are almost as loud as Duffy and several teammates were during Bryant’s final game last April. The Royals had played that night in Houston, two time zones east of the Staples Center, where Bryant put on his concluding show.
“Me and Christian Colón watched it in the Houston clubhouse, and then we booked it home at halftime,” Duffy said. “Me, (Moustakas) and (Eric Hosmer) all sat there and watched it. We were just freaking out.”
Hosmer said: “I believe we got to the hotel right as the third quarter ended, so Duffy invited a bunch of us up to his room to watch the end of it, and it was really fun. “Duffy’s a die-hard Laker fan, so it was fun to watch that last Kobe moment.”
As they watched in the hotel room, the excitement amplified. Bryant entered the final quarter with 37 points. He scored 23 in the fourth quarter — including the winning three-pointer with 31 seconds left — to make it a 60-point farewell performance.
“We were screaming,” Moustakas said. “We had a couple of noise complaints — I think because we were getting so loud.”
Moustakas also calls Bryant his favorite basketball player and said he’s the reason he wears No. 8 for the Royals.
“Just the way he was able to go about his business,” Moustakas said. “He was a winner. It’s the kind of guy you want on your team, that you kind of want to model your game after.”
He has held Bryant in such high regard over the years, he said, because of his work ethic, and doesn’t think he would be star-struck if they met.
“I feel like I’d be able to hold it together,” Moustakas said, “but I’d definitely be very excited to meet him and just let him know what he meant to my childhood and what he means to my work ethic because I try to emulate how hard he works. Obviously, it’s nearly impossible.”
Duffy went to high school in Lompoc, Calif., near Santa Barbara, up the coast from Los Angeles. He attended his first Lakers game as a high-school freshman.
“We didn’t get the opportunity very often,” he said. “(The seats) were upper level in a suite. I don’t remember how we got them, but I took my best friend in high school at the time. It was a preseason game, and it was so much fun.”
Duffy wasn’t the first in his family to be a Lakers fan. His father’s mom was a huge fan of Magic Johnson, and his uncles were fans of forward Kurt Rambis, a teammate of Johnson.
“Whenever they were struggling a little bit before Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe got there, we were still really big fans,” Duffy said.
Unlike Duffy, Moustakas said he went to many Lakers games.
“I was born and raised in LA, so being a Lakers fan was kind of not a choice,” Moustakas said. “I just love watching them play.”
Moustakas, 28, has many memories as a Lakers fan, including Robert Horry making key shots, but his fondest is watching them win titles. Bryant and the Lakers won five NBA championships from 2000 through 2010.
If Moustakas and Duffy have anything in common with their childhood idol, it’s that by winning the 2015 World Series, they know what it feels like to be champions.
“Obviously, winning a ring is the No. 1 goal in anybody’s career, but it was cool to be able to feel the way that they felt so many times,” Duffy said. “Getting to that point and being the best team in the world.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost: ‘All of our WBCers are ready to go’
March 7, 2017 By Pete Grathoff/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article136912373.html Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar strolled through the Royals spring-training clubhouse on Tuesday morning, heading for his stall.
A voice cackled: “Wrong shirt.”
Escobar, who was wearing a burgundy-colored top of the Venezuelan national team rather than his typical blue, flashed a grin.
As Team Venezuela prepares for the World Baseball Classic, it has taken up temporary residence in part of the Royals’ minor-league clubhouse.
The Royals will face two teammates when they take on Venezuela in an exhibition game Wednesday at Surprise Stadium: Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will play for Team USA when it starts the tournament Friday against Colombia. The U.S. team also will play the Dominican Republic, the defending champions, on Saturday. On Sunday, Royals left-hander Danny Duffy will start for Team USA against Canada.
All three games are at Marlins Park in Miami.
Royals manager Ned Yost feels like the players had a good chance to ramp up for the tournament.
“We sent Salvy and Esky off and they’re both ready to go compete for Venezuela and they’re in a good spot,” Yost said after Monday’s 4-1 loss to Arizona. “Hoz left today and Duff leaves in a day or two. All of our WBCers are ready to go and ready to be productive.”
Royals catcher Drew Butera has dealt with an oblique injury that threatened his chance to play for Team Italy. But Butera was in the starting lineup for the Royals’ spring-training game Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Butera reported he’s feeling good.
“Hopefully all goes well today. If it goes well, I’ll be heading out,” Butera said.
Team Italy will leave for its round-robin group games in Mexico on Wednesday. Royals reliever Joakim Soria will pitch for Mexico in the WBC.
Brandon Moss to play Friday
Royals outfielder Brandon Moss, who has not played in a spring game since March 2 because of lower-back stiffness, was not in the lineup for Tuesday’s game. But he’s expected back later this week.
“He was in the cage feeling better,” Yost said. “We’ll probably give him the day off (Wednesday) and with the off day Thursday, he’ll be ready to go Friday.”
Vahe Gregorian: Bubba Starling’s Dominican adventure speaks to Royals’ priorities
March 7, 2017 By Vahe Gregorian/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/vahe-gregorian/article137085938.html Kelvin Herrera is sitting in front of the vacant locker in the Royals clubhouse that honors the dearly departed Yordano Ventura as he considers their common launch point at the Royals Academy in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s kind of a little resort,” he said, smiling. “It’s a different world there.”
A sign out front of the academy in Guerra, near Santo Domingo, proclaims, “It all starts here.”
Indeed, that enterprise is so essential to the Royals that the proclamation speaks to more than merely the host of players who have been nurtured there — including Venezuelan catcher Salvador Perez.
It also explains why general manager Dayton Moore considers it significant to send some inherently more privileged American-born players there to help them appreciate from what and where many of their teammates come.
While Moore says the idea isn’t unique to the Royals, the gesture resonates all the more in the wake of the death of Ventura in a car accident Jan. 22 in the Dominican, a startling circumstance that has left Ventura on the minds of many since.
It also stands out in a time in which empathy and acceptance seem in short supply, particularly when it comes to foreigners, because the Royals treat those dwindling values as fundamental to their cause and way.
“It’s important to get out of your comfort zone in anything you do, and it’s important to understand where many of your teammates come from, some of the challenges that they have,” Moore said. “And let me say this: Everybody has challenges in this game, whether you grow up in the (United States) or not. But I think it just helps you become a better teammate, and ultimately that’s what you need to be.
“The most important thing about playing this game is that you end up being a great teammate.”
Which is how Gardner native Bubba Starling, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 draft, came to spend 10 days in the Dominican this offseason with a handful of younger Royals prospects.
Staying for several days in what Herrera considered luxury, the man who received a $7.5 million signing bonus slept in a room with eight bunk beds next to a communal bathroom and woke up to multiple shrill alarms.
Like his Hispanic counterparts, Starling showered in cold water and brushed his teeth not with water from the sink but from buckets they’d fill with clean water from outside.
He’d get on buses to take part in community service, handing out food or painting houses and playing ball with kids, relishing the smiles and natural joy of the people he’d meet … even as he was jarred by the sad spectacle of poverty and the anxiety of how people drove.
“There are people living under tin roofs with just nothing, no clothes, running around naked; it’s just tough seeing that,” he said. “They’re fighting every day to get food … and just live.
“And the traffic got me. My hands were sweaty riding on the bus every day, because they legitimately have people coming at you, and they don’t move out of the way. People just dart out in front of everyone.”
“It just makes you stop and think,” he added, “how fortunate we are here.”
The enlightening experience was similar to what third baseman Mike Moustakas felt when he made the same journey several years ago.
Both the natural splendor of the country and its squalor had left a deep impression, he said on the Royals bus on the way to Ventura’s funeral in January after the 25-year-old pitcher had died two days earlier.
“Just being able to experience what they were experiencing was definitely eye-opening,” Moustakas said Monday. “Until you actually see it, until you’ve been there and lived it for a little bit, you can’t really understand what these guys go through just to get over here and how hard it is to get over here — let alone make it to the big leagues.”
The expedition may or may not have a substantial impact on Starling’s growth as a player.
While Moore has been saying for nearly two years that Starling could play the outfield for the Royals right now, he regressed at the plate last season when he hit .185 at Class AA Northwest Arkansas after apparent breakthroughs in 2015.
Starling all of a sudden is 24, a fact he jokingly said means he’s “getting old now” but also logically says … if not now, when?
“I don’t look at it as a make or a break year,” Moore said, “but it’s an important year for him.”
Of course, hope springs eternal here.
So Moore adds that “we believe in his future,” manager Ned Yost says his swing looks better and Starling said he has shed “some distractions around me” and is ready to make true strides.
Only time will tell on that, of course.
But at least through his offseason journey he has grown as a person — and automatically become the better teammate Moore seeks to cultivate — one Herrera was thrilled to hear had been to the Dominican and now eager to speak with him about it.
The Royals front office “feel that it’s crucial,” Moore said. “It’s not only good for the American players, but it’s good for the Hispanic players to see that the players from the States are making an effort to be a part of their culture.
“It breaks down barriers.”
From one different world to another.
Mellinger Minutes: Royals
March 7, 2017 By Sam Mellinger/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sam-mellinger/article136924103.html The Royals believe that even with four All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, and a Silver Slugger last year, Salvador Perez’s best baseball is ahead of him. It could be more than their typical optimism, too. He turns 27 in May, and after cutting weight, and with perhaps more time at DH, he could avoid what’s become his customary second half slump.
@cdotharrison: How would you sell a Brett Lawrie signing to the Royals clubhouse?
The first way that I would do this is that I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t sign him.
He’s generally despised around the Royals’ clubhouse, infamous in Kansas City for a reckless slide into Alcides Escobar that tipped off a baseball urinating match. For a franchise that has preached about cohesion, and spent so much dang time and energy promoting what it believes is a rock-solid culture, this would be a difficult sell — particularly two months after Yordano Ventura’s tragic death.
Now, all that said, I haven’t answered your question.
Here’s how I would sell it, if I was needing the sell it:
It’s our job to identify the best ways to win, and you guys have done a spectacular job trusting us, and supporting us, and showing the world why we believe so much in you. We know the hesitations some of you may have here, and we understand, and we hope you know we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t believe he could help us win.
We’re all adults, and we’re here to win games. Please show the world one more time why you’re the group that turned this franchise around. And, now, Brett wants to say something.
(At this point, Lawrie stands in the clubhouse, apologizes for his role in what happened two years, talks about how much he respects how hard the Royals play, because that’s how he plays, that he’s matured and grown up in the last two years and is looking forward to being part of a team that plays as hard as he does)
Boom. Then we all go eat cheeseburgers.
Collin Clements Do you think we will see a more creative use of the bullpen since we don't have a solidified man slotted for the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning? (I.e. Herrera pitching the 8th if the opposing team's 3-4-5 guys are coming to the plate?)
If the Royals do this, it almost certainly means Ned Yost was talked into it. I don’t mean that derisively. I just mean it as a fact.
Ned prefers locked roles. Some of this, I assume, is that it simplifies his game management. Some of it is how he grew up in the game.
But he does honestly believe in the benefit of guys knowing exactly when they’ll pitch, and even as I would prefer bullpen usage closer to what you’re suggesting here (and closer to how the Indians used Andrew Miller last year) I do think Ned’s point is a good one and worthy of consideration.
Because it’s not so simple as just plugging in Herrera in the eighth if that’s when the best hitters are due up. There is nothing relievers hate more than warming up without getting in the game.
Their distaste for this is honest, too. Relieving is hard. You’re asked to go on consecutive nights, and sometimes three out of four. You only have so much in your arm, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to waste that in the bullpen.
So, if I was king of the world, or even just the Royals manager, I would make sure I had buy-in from Herrera. If I did, then I would go with this fireman strategy, but only rarely, and selectively, at least until or unless we hit the last few weeks of a pennant chase and the playoffs.
All that said, I’d be surprised if they actually do this. Ned is the manager, and I don’t think he believes in this. I might disagree with him, but I respect his reasons.
@pfunk270: more likely to make the team: Kyle zimmer or Raul mondesi.
Neither is likely to make the team, but Zimmer is more likely. Particularly if he’s healthy. The Royals have some bullpen spots open, even if they go with 12 pitchers.
I know Mondesi is having a good spring, and that’s better than not having a good spring, but there is a lot working against him making the team. Christian Colon, Whit Merrifield, and even Cheslor Cuthbert are older, and more experienced. Colon and Cuthbert are out of options.
Mondesi was so overwhelmed at the plate last year, and is still just 21 years old. He has time. The Royals, like all teams, prioritize organizational inventory. If keeping Mondesi means losing Colon or Cuthbert, it’s tough to see how that works.
@DrewMcCart11: interesting to see Strahm throw 3 innings yesterday. Are they exploring him as a SP or multi-inning RP?
They’ve always talked about giving Strahm a chance at the rotation this year, which is typical of what any team would be doing in this situation.
When you have the choice, you want to push guys, to make them prove what they can or can’t do, rather than put your own limitation on it. Let the player show you, plus it’s easier to pull Strahm back from the rotation to the bullpen than the other way around.
Strahm really is an interesting character for the Royals. A year ago, Rene Francisco was the only one talking about Strahm as a potential help to the big-league club. Today, he could be in the rotation, or a middle reliever, or otherwise fade away like many do when it’s time to separate the great from the very, very good.
The most likely spot, to me, still seems to be as a middle reliever. Maybe the eighth, maybe the seventh. But the kid can get guys out, and doesn’t seem to have any fear.
Moustakas knows Royals clubhouse will look different next year
March 7, 2017 AP (via FOXSportsKC.com)
http://www.foxsports.com/kansas-city/story/mike-moustakas-knows-kansas-city-royals-clubhouse-will-look-different-next-year-030717 Mike Moustakas surveys the Kansas City Royals clubhouse and knows it will not look the same next spring.
He’s eligible for free agency after this season. So are teammates Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar — all four made their KC debuts in 2011.
“We came up through the minor leagues together,” Moustakas said. “We spent eight or nine years of our lives together. We’ve got to know each other really well. We became more of a family than anything. When you spend 162 days together playing baseball and seven, eight or nine hours a day for 10 years, you get to know people. We’ve become more of a brotherhood, more of a family and that’s what this organization is about,” he said.
“The business side is the business side. That’s something we really don’t think of too much. We try to go out there and play baseball and enjoy the time we do have together. So go out there and do what we do every single year and try to win a World Series and see where we’re at at the end of this thing,” he said.
Moustakas, who helped the Royals win the title in 2015, is coming back from surgery on his right knee. He needed the operation after he collided with left fielder Alex Gordon chasing a fly foul on May 22.
Moustakas had been limited to designated hitter duties until Monday when he started at third base. He homered Tuesday in a 7-3 loss to Cincinnati.
“It was cool to see Moose hit his first home run of the spring,” manager Ned Yost said.
Moustakas had been eager to get back on the field.
“We’ve been taking a lot of groundballs, lot of practice, so maybe a little bit like riding a bike,” Moustakas said. “Nothing is really the same until you get back in a game and get the game speed, adrenaline going. I’m sure opening day will be a little bit different, but it felt good to get out there.”
On Monday against Arizona, the first Diamondbacks batter hit a grounder to Moustakas. Royals players in the dugout tipped their cap to Moustakas after he made the play — they also tipped their caps to him when he misjudged a blooper into single.
“The boys don’t let anything slide,” Moustakas said, grinning. “Not my best. It was definitely a play that has to be made. It will come with time.”
Moustakas started last season by hitting seven home runs in his first 20 games. He then fractured his left thumb making a tag and aggravated it hitting. He went on the disabled list for 15 days, returned for two games and sustained the knee injury. Moustakas’ season ended after 27 games.
“I’m definitely excited to be out there,” Moustakas said. “I’m ready to go. It’s been way too long. I’m about 100 percent right now.”
Moustakas had been in a spring training drought at 1 for 16 before homering against Sal Romano in the first inning. He also walked and struck out.
Moustakas will continue his ritual this season of inscribing the initials of his mother, Connie, in the dirt before his first at-bat and at third base. She died in 2015 from cancer. This year Moustakas expanded that, carving “Ace” in memory of Yordano Ventura, the Royals pitcher who died in January in a vehicle crash in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s just a tough thing to deal with losing a friend, a family member, a buddy,” Moustakas said. “It’s definitely hard.”
March 8, 2017 •.CBSSports.com http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions NONE