Royals notebook | Crow recalls the surprise last year when picked for All-Star team
Crow recalls his surprise at being selected to play in last year’s All-Star team.By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The night before the All-Star rosters were announced a year ago, Royals reliever Aaron Crow had no reason to think what was about to happen would actually happen.
Sure, he was having a good season — a 1.36 ERA in 33 games with 39 strikeouts in 392/3 innings. But he was a rookie set-up reliever, and those guys never get picked. Well, almost never.
“I knew they had to pick someone,” Crow recalled. “From our team, I thought they’d pick (Alex) Gordon, but it ended up being me. That was cool but almost surreal. But I didn’t really think about it leading up to it.”
This year’s announcement will come at noon Sunday on TBS. The starters and all but one reserve for both teams will be announced for the July 10 game at Kauffman Stadium. And it, again, is anybody’s guess as to which Royal — or Royals — will be selected.
Crow isn’t expecting another Sunday surprise.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Billy (Butler), Alcides (Escobar) and (Jonathan) Broxton all deserve it. So, hopefully, they all get it.”
Crow knows how special that moment is.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “We had a team meeting, and (manager Ned Yost) told us. Everybody came up and congratulated me. Then I went out and called my dad to let him know, because that was before they announced it on TV.”
Pitching coach Dave Eiland left the club prior to the second game to attend to what Yost termed “a family emergency.” Bullpen coach Steve Foster replaced Eiland on the bench as the pitching coach.
Bullpen catcher Bill Duplissea ran the bullpen in Foster’s place.
Yost did not provide specifics on the nature of Eiland’s family emergency.
“He’ll get back when he gets back,” Yost said. “It will not be (Sunday), and it might not be the next day.”
Insult to injury
Beating the Royals wasn’t enough to keep right-hander Cole De Vries on the Twins roster. He was optioned back to Class AAA Rochester following the second game after limiting the Royals to one hit and five hits in six innings.
Minnesota had recalled De Vries prior to the doubleheader under the 26th-player provision in the new labor agreement. The Royals added lefty reliever Tommy Hottovy from Class AAA Omaha.
Hottovy pitched 11/3 innings in the opener and was also optioned back to the Storm Chasers after the game.
The rule permits teams to add a 26th player for a day/night double-header resulting from a postponed game — as long as the postponement did not occur the previous day.
What’s the reason behind Luis Mendoza’s recent success, which includes three quality starts in his last four outings? Yost points to a refined approach.
“I think he was really relying heavily, before, on his two-seamer in against righties,” Yost said. “And righties don’t see a lot of pitches in. So the first time around, he handles the lineup.
“The second time around, they say, ‘OK, you pounded me in.’ He pounds them in again, and they start fighting it off. The third time, they kill him because they’re sitting on it because they’re looking for it.”
Before Friday, opponents were batting .548 (17 for 31) in their third at-bat against Mendoza in eight previous starts. He retired the Twins nine up and down with four strikeouts and only one ball leaving the infield.
“I think it’s because I just stayed aggressive,” said Mendoza, who permitted just one run and five hits in a career-high eight innings. “Stay with my sinker to lefties inside and to righties inside, too. It worked well, too.”
Yost said a varied approach earlier in the game paid dividends.
“On Friday,” he said, “(Mendoza) effectively pitched in, but he also effectively pitched away with his two-seamer, four-seamer and curveball. The third time around, they still didn’t have any idea of what he was doing. They weren’t sitting on one particular pitch.”
Cain on hold
The long road back for outfielder Lorenzo Cain continues to find potholes. Plans called for him to miss a second straight game Saturday in his rehab assignment at Class AAA Omaha because of sore legs.
Cain is recovering from a torn left hip flexor, which he suffered April 24 while on a rehab assignment at Class AA Northwest Arkansas for a strained left groin. The groin injury occurred when he slammed into the wall on April 10 at Oakland.
Honoring the Blues
The Royals wore replica uniforms of the 1951 Kansas City Blues in the second game, while the Twins wore replica uniforms of the 1951 Minneapolis Millers.
It was a notable year for both franchises. Mickey Mantle played 40 games that year for the Blues, a Yankees affiliate, while Willie Mays played 35 games for the Millers, a Giants’ affiliate.
The ’51 Blues played at Municipal Stadium and were managed by George Selkirk and finished 80-71. Their roster included Johnny Blanchard, Bob Cerv, Jackie Jensen, Joe Page and Gus Triandos.
Birthday wishes to outfielder Mitch Maier, who turned 30 on Saturday. Also to former Royals Mark Grudzielanek (42) and Clint Hurdle (55).
Grudzielanek played for the Royals from 2006-08 and retired after a brief 2010 comeback with Cleveland. Hurdle currently serves as the Pirates’ manager.
Lefty pitching prospect Mike Montgomery turns 23 today.
It was 37 years ago Sunday — July 1, 1975 — that John Mayberry became the first Royals player to hit three homers in a game in a 5-4 loss at Texas. All three came against future Hall of Fame right-hander Ferguson Jenkins.
Three homers in one game remains a club record. It has happened seven times.
Mayberry also hit three homers on June 1, 1977 at Toronto. George Brett did it twice, while Tony Solaita, Bo Jackson and Danny Tartabull each did it once.