Perhaps someday soon, base-runners will learn to be extra careful when Royals catcher Salvy Perez is behind the plate. In the meantime, Perez is making them pay. Perez picked off an unsuspecting Alexei Ramirez from third base in the fourth inning of Thursdays 4-3 victory over the White Sox, which helped Jeremy Guthrie work out of a jam. The pickoff was the eighth of Perez's career a Royals record. Sal is really sharp, manager Ned Yost said, and Moose (third baseman Mike Moustakas) is very sharp in that situation. (They) know the runner is looking to go on contact, so hes going to get that extra lean trying to score on a ground ball." Perez needed only 104 career games to break Darrell Porter's previous mark of seven career pickoffs. Porter accumulated his total in 492 games over a four-year span from 1977-80. Perezs five pickoffs this season are tops in the majors. Aided by a left-handed hitting Alejandro De Aza at the plate, Perez had an open lane to throw behind Ramirez, who took a sizable secondary lead from third base as Guthrie fired a pitch. Perez's throw was a strike to Moustakas, who tagged Ramirez's arm before his hand reached the base. Perez has also thrown out would-be base stealers at a 47-percent clip (17 for 36) this season good for second in the majors among players who have caught at least 50 games. Cincinnati's Ryan Hanigan leads at 49 percent (30 for 61).
By SAM McDOWELL and BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals are already showing interest in Blue Jays right-hander Carlos Villanueva, a pending free agent, according to the Toronto Sun.
Villanueva, 28, is 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 36 games, including 14 starts. He opened the season in the bullpen but shifted to the rotation in late June when injuries wracked the Toronto starting corps. He is 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA as a starter.
The acquisition of two starting pitchers is likely to be the Royals top off-season priority. Villanueva pitched for three seasons in Milwaukee under Royals manager Ned Yost.
Villaneuva now is making $2,227,500. He is 33-33 with a 4.12 ERA in 299 career games, including 54 starts, over seven seasons. He pitched for Milwaukee from 2006-10 before a trade sent him to the Blue Jays.
Former groundskeeper George Toma will be inducted Friday as the 25th member of the Royals Hall of Fame in an on-field ceremony before the series opener against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
The ceremony was rescheduled from Aug. 31 because of a rainout. Fridays forecast tonight calls for temperatures to dip into the 50s but no rain.
Toma is the first inductee selected by a veterans committee created last year in a redesigned voting process. The 16-member committee consists of select Hall of Famers, club executives and media members.
The veterans committee meets in even-numbered years to consider non-field personnel in addition to players and managers no longer eligible through the regular-phase balloting, which occurs in odd-numbered years.
The Royals Hall of Fame opened in 1986 with the induction of pitcher Steve Busby and outfielder Amos Otis.
Right-hander Luis Mendoza declared himself good, real good in his recovery from a bout earlier this week with strep throat and will start Friday.
Mendoza went through his normal day-before routine in preparation for his start. He will be monitored closely Friday for fatigue, particularly in the early innings, but Yost anticipates no problems.
He feels good, and he looks good, Yost said. He feels strong. You can normally tell if a guy is not feeling good or if hes weak. We dont see any signs of that. He looks 100 percent normal and natural.
Moore with Odorizzi
Tentative plans call for catcher Adam Moore to make his Royals debut Sunday against the Indians because of his familiarity with right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who will be making his major-league debut.
The two teamed on a regular basis at Class AAA Omaha once the Royals acquired Moore in a July 7 waiver claim from Seattle. They were among five players promoted last Sunday after Omahas season ended.
Hes seen Odorizzi, Yost said. I think its more important to have someone who has caught him before (than someone familiar with opposing hitters). Theyre going to be watching two games, and the kid has caught in the big leagues before.
Theyll have their game plan. Theyll be fine.
Yost said he chose Sunday for Odorizzis debut because he wanted to give regular catcher Salvy Perez a day off.
Sunday was a good day to do it, Yost said. Its a day game after a night game. Nothing is set in stone. Thats what I plan to do but, between now and then, who knows whats going to happen?
The Royals got their 12th shutout in Wednesdays 3-0 victory over the White Sox, which is their highest total since also registering a dozen in 1992. They havent had more than 12 since the 1989 team finished with 13.
One point to note:
Luke Hochevars 8-0 victory over Tampa Bay on June 25 is the Royals only complete game shutout. The 1992 team had five complete-game shutouts one each by Hipolito Pichardo, Mark Gubicza, Rick Reed, Mike Boddicker and Dennis Rasmussen.
The club record for shutouts is 16 by the 1972 club. Fourteen of those were complete-game shutouts, including six by Roger Nelson. The six shutouts by Nelson remain the franchises single-season individual record.
The Lexington (Ky.) Legends of the South Atlantic League are the Royals new low-Class A affiliate after the two clubs reached agreement on a four-year contract running through the 2016 season.
Lexington replaces Kane County in the Royals affiliate roster. The Royals spent two years at Kane County, a Midwest League franchise located in Geneva, Ill.
We have long coveted the South Atlantic League as one of the best leagues in baseball for developing young players, said Scott Sharp, the Royals director of minor-league operations.
The fact that we get the chance to join the league in one of the finest facilities with a strong ownership group and front-office staff is a tremendous bonus.
The Royals targeted a SAL franchise because of their preference to have their low-A affiliate located in a warmer-weather location. The Royals had SAL affiliations at Charleston (S.C.) from 1980-84 and Charleston (W. Va.) from 1999-2000.
Lexington figures to inherit many players who this season took short-season Burlington (N.C.) to within one pitch of the Appalachian League title.
It was 42 years ago Friday Sept. 21, 1970 that pitcher Jim York became the first player originally signed by the Royals to appear in a major-league game.
York, now 65, was the Royals 16th-round pick in the 1969 draft. He made his debut by pitching 4 2/3 innings of relief in an 8-2 victory at Chicago in the second game of a double-header. He was the winning pitcher after allowing one run and three hits.
York was 6-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 57 games, all in relief, for the Royals in 1970-71.
The Royals traded York to Houston on Dec. 2, 1971 with pitcher Lance Clemons for minor-league infielder Dave Grangaard and a first baseman with 105 games of big-league experience named John Mayberry. (Another steal by then-general manager Cedric Tallis.)
York concluded a seven-year career in 1976 at 16-17 with a 3.79 ERA in 174 games for three teams.