It will be a personal rubber match of sorts when rookie left-hander Will Smith takes the mound for the Royals in Mondays series opener against Minnesota.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
Smith, 22, is making his third career start after two outings that yielded dramatically different results. In his career debut at Yankee Stadium on May 23, Smith allowed five runs in 31/3 innings in an 8-3 loss. In his second start, Smith shook off a two-run first and lasted six innings without surrendering another run.
First start was crazy Smith said. The second start I was able to relax a little more, slow the game down, calm down and execute.
Smith picked up the win and earned another opportunity to start. And with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez getting shelled for six runs in a rehab start for Class AAA Omaha on Sunday, Smith could perhaps be auditioning to stay in the Royals rotation.
His curveball and slider have been very good, Royals manager Ned Yost said. Once he got on the attack after the first inning in Cleveland, he was dynamite.
Smiths ability to bounce back matched up with his scouting report: He has generally drawn high marks for his competitiveness and composure.
Smith credits an important mentor a former Alabama pitcher named Josh Copeland for helping mold his attitude on the mound. Copeland, Smith says, was a senior when Smith was an underclassman at Northgate High School in Newnan, Ga.
I followed him around, Smith said, and he taught me that Go get em attitude. Never back down. It doesnt matter who they are or how old they are. No fear.
Smith is also still perfecting a slider that he started throwing only last summer. Like the pitcher who throws it, its not a finished product yet.
Its new for them, Yost said. The thing that they have to figure out is Hey, my stuffs good enough to compete here. And until they figure that out some people never figure that out.
Ive seen it every time he steps onto the mound. Hes got great composure on the mound.
It could not have gone much worse for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez on Sunday.
Sanchez, making his second rehab start for Class AAA Omaha, allowed six earned runs, six hits and four walks on Sunday in a 7-5 loss to Memphis in Omaha.
Sanchez, who was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts for the Royals before going on the disabled list because of left biceps tendinitis, threw just 39 strikes in 71 pitches.
• Left-hander Everett Teaford will throw in a bullpen session Monday as he continues his comeback from a lower abdominal strain. Teaford, on the disabled list since May 18, threw 25 pitches to hitters on Friday and probably will leave for a rehab assignment early this week.
• Second baseman Chris Getz is also on the short list to leave for a rehab assignment barring no setbacks. Getz was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 22 because of a left ribcage bruise.
• Top prospect Wil Myers went three for five with a homer for Class AAA Omaha on Sunday. Myers is now batting .343 with six homers in 18 games at Omaha. In a combined 53 games at Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, Myers has 19 homers and 16 doubles.
• In one of the more noteworthy minor-league performances of the season, right-hander Yordano Ventura threw five scoreless innings for a Class A-advanced Wilmington in a 1-0 victory over Frederick (Orioles) on Saturday. What made it so impressive? Ventura, who turned 21 on Sunday, outdueled Dylan Bundy, the No. 4 overall pick in last years draft and one of the most dominant minor-league arms this season.
Moose in late
Third baseman Mike Moustakas got a partial day off against As left-hander Tommy Milone. Yost said it had more to do with the fact Moustakas hadnt had a scheduled day off since early April.
Moustakas did enter in the eighth inning, shifting Yuniesky Betancourt back to second to replace Johnny Giavotella. The move nearly backfired when Betancourt booted a grounder leading off the inning, but reliever Greg Holland worked out of a two-on, nobody-out jam.
• Designated hitter Billy Butler finished with three hits, his 20th multi-hit game of the season.
• The Royals improved to 7-3 this season in series-deciding games.