Yordano Ventura and the double play

If the worst job a manager has is telling a kid he hasn’t made the team, the best job might be telling a kid he has. Monday night Ned Yost got to tell pitcher Yordano Ventura he made the team. Earlier in the day Yost talked about Ventura’s major league debut and it’s a story worth telling (or in my case, re-telling).

How to watch batting practice

If you get a chance, come to a game early and watch batting practice. Most of the time we’re worried about finding our seats and ordering the first cold beer of the night, but there’s something to be learned if you pay attention to what’s happening during BP.

What about the new guys?

Cover baseball for a living and people tend to ask you questions about the team you cover. They assume you’re an expert and can answer any question. Fans want to know what you think about the starting rotation or how many games the team might win. Do you think it would be a good idea to go after a free agent? And when a team adds players someone is sure to ask; what about the new guys?

In case you were wondering

Judging the Royals will return for its fifth year starting this Saturday, March 16th. I’ll fly to Surprise, Arizona on Friday and post something the next day. I’ll then stay in Arizona until spring training is over. As usual, I’ll post something after every game this season and I may get some things posted on the off-days as well.

Looking back at the Royals' season

The Kansas City Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 4-1 and finished the 2013 season 86 and 76 — 10 games over .500. Last season they were 72 and 90; a 14-win improvement. If you’re looking for progress, there it is.

It’s home run derby, and the Royals lose

The final score was White Sox 6, Royals 5, and every run scored by way of the long ball—seven home runs in all; four by the White Sox, three by the Royals. After the game Ned Yost said it was warm and humid; during the game you could see the flags snapping in the wind.

James Shields and his put-away pitch

Everybody in baseball is looking for patterns: if you spot one, you can use it to your advantage. Does the pitcher hold his glove one way when delivering the ball home, another way when attempting a pickoff? If so, steal when the pitcher signals that he’s going home. Does the opposing manager like to hit and run in a 2-1 count? If so, pitch out when you reach that count and throw out the base runner.

Hey Rusty Kuntz: Did Royals win because of a missed sign?

When I watch a game and have a question about what I’ve seen, I usually go find first-base coach Rusty Kuntz. When the Royals play at home, Rusty and I talk just about every day; but now the Royals are on the road, Rusty isn’t available and I have a question: Did the Royals win this game because of a missed sign?

Breakdowns in four phases put final nail in Royals' coffin

Baseball comes in four parts: pitching, defense, hitting and base-running. Wednesday night, breakdowns in all four phases of the game ended the Royals postseason chances. A 6-0 loss to the Mariners combined with wins by other teams means the Royals will be watching postseason baseball on TV.

Scoreless in Seattle: The Royals are shut out

If you want to know what went wrong in Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners, take a look at the bottom of the third and top of the fourth inning—the Royals had an opportunity to change the game and didn’t take advantage.

The Royals and their four-hour roller coaster ride

West Coast game, 9:10 start and the Royals play extra innings—are you kidding me? This one took four hours and 12 minutes and had more parts than a Swiss watch. (Actually, I was hoping to come up with a much better metaphor than that, but right now it’s the best I got.) Ned Yost called this one a roller coaster ride and he was right.

Justin Maxwell and the most electrifying moment of the year

Extra innings, tie ball game, bases loaded, two outs, 3-2 count and 31,000 people on their feet, screaming their lungs out. It wasn’t playoff baseball, but it was pretty damn close. Justin Maxwell was at the plate because Ned Yost had a gut feeling; Yost thought about pinch hitting David Lough, but something told him to stick with Maxwell.

Jeremy Guthrie and eight pitches that changed the game

When a pitcher flies open that means his front shoulder—his glove-side shoulder—is rotating open too soon. That screws up his pitching mechanics and his throwing side is also affected; the ball tends to miss the strike zone. It happens so often, catchers have a sign for it: they tap their own shoulder to remind the pitcher to stay closed.

The Royals win it in the bottom of the eighth

Get the ball to Greg Holland with a lead and your chances of winning are excellent. So Friday night the Royals needed to find a way to scratch out one run in the eighth inning, break up a 1-1 tie and give Holland a shot at closing the game out against the Texas Rangers.

How to watch the warm-up throws

(I always write more than I need, so I always have stuff leftover. We’re now down to the final three regular-season home games—time is running out. A couple of these pieces are about things you can only see if you attend a game, so now seemed like the right time to post them. The first one is about the warm-up pitches thrown between each inning.)

Jeremy Guthrie’s fourth time through the order

Jeremy Guthrie came out to pitch the seventh inning of this game, and Cal Ripken didn’t like it. Ripken now calls games for TBS. Ripken’s reasoning went this way: Guthrie had already given up 11 hits and had been lucky to only give up two runs through the first six innings. When you have the best bullpen in the American League, why let the Detroit hitters see Guthrie for a fourth time?

Sal’s sweet hands save the day

Catcher Salvy Perez had to handle an in-between hop Saturday night in his game-ending play at the plate. It’s just what it sounds like: too close for the guy catching the ball to have much time to react to the hop, too far away to smother.

Tigers’ Torii Hunter pulls a veteran move

Tori Hunter has been in the big leagues for 17 years; the guy knows a thing or two. You hear stories about Hunter deking base runners by pretending he will catch ball he won’t, or pretending he won’t catch a ball he will. Torii will take a bad hack at a pitch early in the game—when there’s no one on base—hoping to get that same pitch later in the game, when there’s a runner in scoring position. Torii Hunter is a veteran ballplayer who knows how to play the game and you won’t get a better example of that than the fifth inning of Friday night’s loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Eric Hosmer and what we don’t know

In Thursday morning’s Kansas City Star, Bob Dutton had a piece about Eric Hosmer that revealed one of the reasons for Hosmer’s early-season slump—it may have been a sore hand. The Royals first baseman said that in the first game of the season he fouled a couple balls off while batting against Chicago’s Chris Sale and "my hand ended up blowing up on me." The piece said Hosmer’s sore hand ended up robbing him of his power, but Eric kept quiet about the injury.

Royals come out swinging against Scott Kazmir, Indians

The Royals appeared to ambush Cleveland starting pitcher Scott Kazmir on Wednesday. Hitters ambush pitchers by swinging early in the count when they expect to get a fastball for a strike. Alex Gordon started things by swinging at the first pitch of the game — a 90 mph fastball — and homered. The second hitter, Emilio Bonifacio, swung at the first pitch he saw — a 92 mph fastball — fouled it off and eventually tripled. Eric Hosmer also swung at the first pitch he saw — a 94 mph fastball — and hit an RBI single.