ROYALS NOTEBOOK

Weather presents a challenge for Vance

Updated: 2013-05-05T02:00:35Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Trevor Vance is not a meteorologist, but he suggests that when planning a future outing, it’s best to see if the Royals are playing at Kauffman Stadium.

“I haven’t seen the extended (forecast) into next weekend, but usually if the Royals are in town, the rain chances go up,” Vance said. “You don’t need a Farmer’s Almanac, you can pretty much follow the Royals schedule. The rain chances increase when they come to town.”

You can forgive Vance for his sarcastic take on the weather. As the Royals’ Director of Groundskeeping and Landscaping, Vance has been busy keeping the field at The K in shape through rain, sleet and snow.

“This spring has been very challenging,” Vance admitted, “from the snow in March to these rains to even the temperatures when we couldn’t get the grass to grow in late March, because we were so cold your soil temperatures have to warm up and they just weren’t doing it.

“But you know what? I have a super crew and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep this place up and running and looking good. Hats off to them, because they do all the hard work.”

In Thursday’s aborted game against the Rays, the grounds crew poured calcined clay on the field before the rain turned to snow. That absorbs moisture then releases it slowly.

A quick survey found that Royals infielders prefer a little water on the infield rather than a lot of the calcined clay, which hardens initially, they said.

“When the infield has a lot of water, the ball just stays down all the time,” shortstop Alcides Escobar said. “When they put a little bit of (calcined clay) down, the ball is bouncing and it’s harder.”

Vance said the grounds crew took two pickup trucks’ worth of the clay off the infield once the rains quit. They let it dry in the parking lot, and while it can be used again, it’s donated to local high schools.

And he’s hoping the rain holds off for the rest of the home stand, which ends Monday. Or, he would prefer snow to rain.

“If it had been a light snow that had come down, we would have continued playing (Thursday),” Vance said. “Twelve inches of snow is an inch of rain.

“The worst is the rain, that consistent, constant rain. We just can’t get out of that.”

Never say quit

Entering Saturday’s game, the Royals ranked in the lower half of the American League in most offensive categories.

But they are showing two-out toughness. The Royals were batting .296 and had scored 47 of their 113 runs with two outs. Texas ranked second in the majors in two-out average at .281.

Also, the Royals’ 10 come-from-behind victories are tied with the Orioles for the most in baseball. The Royals have rallied from deficits of five runs (against the Rays on Wednesday) and twice from four runs (both times in Philadelphia last month).

“They don’t quit, they keep battling,” manager Ned Yost said of his team. “They’ve got that youth and enthusiasm and passion for the game. They’ve got a real desire to play winning baseball, and they just play. But they play with a lot of energy, and that’s what makes it so fun.”

Minor league report

• Kyle Zimmer, the Royals’ first pick in last year’s draft, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning Saturday before finishing with two hits allowed and a run in 61/3 innings for Class A Wilmington, which lost 3-2 to Lynchburg. Zimmer struck out six.

• Daniel Stumpf threw six scoreless innings as Class A Lexington beat Lakewood 8-0. Stumpf, a left-hander, is 3-0 with a 1.03 ERA this season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in four of his five starts.

Looking back

It was six years ago today that right fielder Mark Teahen tied a franchise record by recording three outfield assists in a 7-5 loss to Detroit at Kauffman Stadium. Bob Oliver had three outfield assists in 1969.

Etc.

• Entering Saturday, the Royals were tied with the Rays for the fewest innings worked by the bullpen (671/3).

• Not surprisingly, Alex Gordon’s 443-foot grand slam in Detroit was the longest home run hit by a Royals player in April.

• Jake Peavy will start Monday’s game for the White Sox. That was expected, but that spot was initially listed as TBA, because Peavy was recovering from back spasms.

The Star’s Bob Dutton contributed to this report.

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