TORONTO — The names shift somewhat in the Royals outfield, but the warning remains the same to opponents: Run at your own risk.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals are again leading the majors in outfield assists. They finished last season with 51 when no other team had more than 39.
That might surprise some people that its happening again, right fielder Jeff Francoeur said, but I think it says a lot about what we do in terms of how much we practice. So when we do get that opportunity, you try not to miss it.
The Royals currently have 20 outfield assists no other club has more than 17 and their success is a nearly even split. Francoeur and left fielder Alex Gordon each have six assists, while center fielder Jarrod Dyson has five.
It just reaffirms the job that (coach) Doug Sisson does with the outfielders, manager Ned Yost said, and the work that he puts forth to make them the best that they can be. Its not an accident. Hes got them throwing every three days.
Thats extra work, prior to the first game of a series, that occurs before batting practice.
Our guys are talented, Sisson said, and they work hard. I think thats all it comes down to. Theres nothing we do thats unique other than we dont throw with a cut-off man. Besides that, we throw a lot, and our guys are good.
Why no cut-off man?
Ive never believed that its an outfielders job to hit a cut-off man, Sisson said. I dont like that old cliché. Its an outfielders job to throw the ball to a base. Its a cut-off mans job to get in line with the throw.
If were going to throw people out, we have to learn how to throw the ball to the base not to a cut-off man.
Francoeur has thrown out 103 runners since the start of the 2005 season 27 more than any other player. Gordon set a club record last by leading the majors with 20. Dyson continues to display a surprisingly strong accurate arm.
But opponents keep running. Why?
A lot of times when weve thrown guys out, Francoeur said, it was because a team took a chance at a point where I might take a chance, too. But there were a couple where youre thinking, `Why the heck did he go?
Sometimes, you take chances. In Cleveland, weve gone on (Shin-Soo) Choo a few times. Weve gone on guys who we know have strong arms because youre never assured the throw will be good. There are times when you take chances and you get burned.
Sisson added: I think base-running is one part of the game where there is no luck involved. Its either a good fundamental or a bad fundamental. I just think there are certain times when you push the envelope.
There are fundamental times in a game when youve got to take a chance. Maybe youre trying to score from second with two outs, or you have a guy who got a good jump and we just make a good play.
Twenty times so far. And counting.
Broxton trails field
Royals closer Jonathan Broxton is a Final Vote candidate for the last spot on the American League All-Star team largely because of his ability to work himself out of tight spots at the end of games.
He needs to do that again as the online balloting process heads toward its 3 p.m. Thursday deadline.
Results released Tuesday morning by Major League Baseball showed Broxton in last place among the five AL candidates, all of whom are pitchers. Specific vote totals were not released.
Texas starter Yu Darvish ranked first, followed by Chicago starter Jake Peavy, Baltimore starter Jason Hammel, Los Angeles reliever Ernesto Frieri and Broxton.
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones topped the National League field, followed by St. Louis third baseman David Freese, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill and Atlanta outfielder Michael Bourn.
Jones was added to the team later in the day as a replacement for injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who was voted by the fans to a starting spot.
Want to vote? Go to MLB.com/finalvote.
Teaford on tap
Its no surprise that lefty Everett Teaford is now listed as the probable starter for Sunday at Detroit, which marks the Royals final game before the All-Star break. That slot previously was listed as to be announced.
Teaford gained the start by limiting Toronto to three runs and five hits over seven innings Monday in an 11-3 victory.
Yosts decision also stacks three lefties against Detroit since Teaford will follow Jonathan Sánchez and Bruce Chen in the three-game weekend series.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery, under consideration for a postbreak promotion, failed to hold a six-run lead in Class AAA Omahas 11-7 loss Tuesday to Albuquerque a six-run lead entering the second inning.
Montgomery, 3-6, gave up eight runs and 10 hits in five innings and saw his ERA spike to 5.67.
Outfielder Bubba Starling went two for four in short-season Burlingtons 8-1 loss at Danville on Tuesday night. Starling, a high school standout at Gardner Edgerton, is batting .333 (seven for 21) through five games of his pro career.
Some interesting numbers passed along by Bill Chuck, who bills himself as a baseball newstalgist (): The Royals ranked third among all 30 teams in June in innings from their bullpen and, correspondingly, 26th in innings from their starters.
The Royals relief corps went 5-3 with a 3.18 ERA while throwing 99 innings. Only Colorado (121 innings) and Minnesota (100 innings) worked more. That 3.18 ERA ranked 10th; Seattle was first at 1.88, and Houston was last at 7.03.
It was 43 years ago Wednesday July 4, 1969 that Bob Oliver hit the first grand slam in Royals history. It came in the eighth inning against Seattle knuckleballer Jim Bouton in a 13-2 victory in the first game of a double-header at Municipal Stadium.
Some additional points: Those were the Seattle Pilots, who were like the Royals an expansion team in 1969. The Pilots left Seattle after one year to become the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bouton later became an author who chronicled the 69 Pilots in Ball Four, a seminal diary that rattled the baseball world by offering an insiders look at the major-league lifestyle.
Long-time Royals scout Art Stewart, who currently serves as a senior adviser to general manager Dayton Moore, signed Bouton to his first contract while working for the New York Yankees in 1959.
There have been 108 grand slams in Royals history since Oliver went deep against Bouton. The most recent was Monday night, when Mike Moustakas hit one in an 11-3 victory over the Blue Jays.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.