CHICAGO — Greg Holland is into his second week as the Royals closer, with a victory and three saves to his credit, but he remains determined not to change his approach or mind-set.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
In short, he doesnt want to think of himself as a closer.
I dont want to feel any different on the mound, Holland said, because of the situation. So I dont address it. What I dont want to do is get too amped up because its the ninth inning.
Holland got his third save in three chances Wednesday despite allowing one run in the ninth in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. It marked the first time in eight outings that he permitted a run.
The closers job fell to Holland when the Royals traded Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati just prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline for two minor-league pitchers. Holland also filled that role late last season after an injury to Joakim Soria.
Manager Ned Yost said he plans to use Holland, with one exception, in much the same manner as he used Soria and Broxton if its a save situation in the ninth (or extra innings on the road), Holland will get the ball.
That held true Tuesday when Yost summoned Holland to protect a three-run lead in a 5-2 victory over the White Sox. Had the Royals cashed a leadoff double in the ninth, and extended their cushion to four runs, Yost planned to use Tim Collins.
Yost is more open to extending Holland to four- and five-out saves than either Soria or Broxton, who each had a history of arm injuries.
I was hesitant to do that with Jack and Brox, Yost admitted. Holland is more used to going more than one inning. I feel if the situation is right, I can do that with him.
Thats why Yost used Holland for two innings Sunday in a victory over Texas. It was the seventh time this season that Holland worked beyond one inning.
Holland is on a roll. Even after allowing one run Wednesday, he owns a 2.06 ERA in 39 games since returning from an April rib injury that contributed to a poor start.
The biggest thing I had to learn to get up here and stay up here, he said, was being able to slow the game down. When stuff starts going bad, its easy to (let it get worse).
Your mind starts racing. Your adrenaline shoots up. And theres nothing going through you mind. Youre just out there, you see the sign, you come set and you fire.
When its going really well, you can throw any pitch in any situation. When its going bad, you have to be able to step off and think, `OK, what do I need to do here? Where are the runners? What is the situation?
You have to process that information with a clear head, and then execute a pitch. The only way to do that is if youre calm.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur became an internet sensation after video that showed him grabbing a handful of a fans popcorn in Tuesdays game went viral. Heres the link: http://atmlb.com/OQcC8d.
Id never done that before, Francoeur said. It was one of those things. I ran over there hard, and I got to the edge, and it was right there. They were all looking back (at the ball). The guys bucket was right there, so I just reached my hand in there.
The snack occurred at a key point in the game. The Royals held a 3-2 lead with two outs in the Chicago seventh with a runner on first. Kelvin Herrera had just relieved starter Bruce Chen with Gordon Beckham at the plate.
Beckham had homered in the first inning against Chen after providing the winning blow with a homer Monday in the eighth inning against Luis Mendoza in the series opener.
Francoeur charged toward the right-field line when Beckham sent a slicing foul into the seats. As everyone turned to follow the balls flight, Francoeur reached over the belt-high railing and grabbed some popcorn.
The guys turned around, Francoeur said, and said, `Yeah, sure. They were laughing. Id never done that before. But I thought, `Yeah, why not?
There was almost an encore.
The next pitch, Beckham fouled it off again, Francoeur said. I looked over at those guys and said, `I need something to drink to wash it down. They started laughing again.
Class AAA outfielder Wil Myers was by cited as the best power prospect in the Pacific Coast League in a survey of the circuits managers by Baseball America.
Thats probably no surprise since Myers, 21, leads the minors with 33 homers, including 20 in 74 games since his promotion from Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Myers was the only Royals prospect among the organizations four full-season affiliates cited in the annual survey.
Omaha right-hander Jake Odorizzi settled for a no-decision Wednesday despite limiting Colorado Springs to two runs in seven innings. Reliever Roman Colón yielded two runs in the ninth in a 4-2 loss.
Odorizzi allowed just four hits but two were home runs. He struck out four and walked two while throwing 73 of 103 pitches for strikes. He is 8-2 with a 3.17 ERA in 15 games since his promotion from Northwest Arkansas.
Myers went three for four with a double, which raised his average to .293.
Right-hander José Geraldo of the Dominican Royals received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol and metabolites of Nandrolone in accordance with the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Its disappointing to learn of Josés positive test, assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. Its obviously something we do not condone, and we will continue to educate our players on dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs.
It was 43 years ago today Aug. 9, 1969 that right-hander Bill Butler threw the first complete-game one-hitter in Royals history in a 10-0 victory at Cleveland. The only hit was Eddie Leons one-out single in the third inning.
Butler, now 69, was then a 22-year-old rookie whom the Royals acquired the previous October from Detroit in the expansion draft. He was 14-24 with a 3.80 in three years with the Royals before finishing his career in Cleveland and Minnesota.
There have been 19 complete-game one-hitters in franchise history. The most recent was by Zack Greinke on Aug. 30, 2009 in a 3-0 victory in Seattle. Paul Splittorff had three one-hitters, and Kevin Appier had two. Fourteen pitchers had one each.