ROYALS NOTEBOOK

Emilio Bonifacio off to strong start with Royals

Updated: 2013-09-08T06:05:40Z

By BOB DUTTON and NICOLE POELL

The Kansas City Star

Although he’s only been with the Royals a short time, Emilio Bonifacio looks comfortable with his new team.

Since joining the Royals on Aug. 14 after being traded from Toronto (where he was hitting just .218 over 94 games), Bonifacio is batting .314 with five doubles and 13 stolen bases. While he has primarily played second base with the Royals, he can also play shortstop, third base and the outfield.

After picking up four hits on Thursday, Bonifacio had another good night Saturday, going two for four. One was a well-executed bunt single to third base in the third, which scored Alcides Escobar and tied the game.

"I was thinking about it as I went to the plate," said Bonifacio. "With a guy like Verlander, you want to make sure you get that run. I’m not so concerned about who is playing third. Bunting is part of my game. So I just tried to put down a good bunt and beat it out.

"It was right where I wanted to put it. Too far for anyone to get to it."

Manager Ned Yost wasn't surprised.

"That’s what Boni does," said Yost. "He’s got a bunch of different tools in his repertoire that he can use to help you win ballgames.

"It’s a fun skill set to watch. There’s speed. He can bunt. He can slash. He’s a switch-hitter. He’s got great range. He turns two well at second base. Can play multiple positions. He’s a fun, exciting player to watch.

"Two years ago, when he was playing for Miami, he was one of the most sought-after players on that team."

Bonifacio said the change of scenery has been good for him.

“I feel very comfortable here,” he said. “You are playing for something. I have an opportunity here to play every day, so I really enjoy that, and feel like I am being a help to the team.”

Yost said Bonifacio is a good fit, for several reasons.

“He brings life and energy,” Yost said. “He’s been very good anywhere we’ve put him defensively. He runs the bases like a phenom. He swings the bat well from both sides.”

About running the bases like a phenom ... Bonifacio’s speed rivals that of teammate Jarrod Dyson, aka “Mr. Zoombiya.”

But Bonifacio dismisses any suggestion of trash talk with Dyson about who might be faster. In fact, they help each other out when they’re running the bases.

“If he picks up something with the pitcher or catcher, he’ll tell me, ‘Hey, Boni, if you get on, look for this, look for that.’ I really enjoy watching him — how fast he is.”

As for Dyson, he appreciates Bonifacio’s speed as well.

“I like watching him run,” Dyson said. Long pause. “Since I can’t watch myself run.”

Getz cleared

Second baseman Chris Getz was cleared to play shortly before Friday night’s game.

Getz left Tuesday’s game against the Mariners because of dizziness.

“They put me through the tests, and you have to pass the tests,” he said Saturday. “I’m feeling good.”

Getz was not in Saturday night’s starting lineup.

Perez’s positioning

Yost explained further why the Royals think that Salvador Perez setting up closer to the plate might keep him from taking foul tips off his chin area.

On Thursday, Perez left the game because of dizziness shortly after taking a foul tip in the chin.

“Some people think that the closer you are to the plate, the shorter the distance to the ball, and you can deflect it with your glove, keeps it off your head,” Yost said. “I don’t know if it works or not. ... You can get up closer than you think you can. Maybe 6 inches.”

Dyson hits 30-steal mark again

Dyson got his 30th stolen base on Saturday, becoming the first Royal to steal 30-plus bases for two straight years since Carlos Beltran did it three consecutive seasons, from 2001-2003.

Still on top

The Royals entered Saturday continuing to lead the American League in earned-run average — despite absorbing a 16-2 pounding from Detroit in Friday’s series opener and yielding 28 runs over three games.

That league-leading ERA jumped from 3.43 to 3.55 in that three-game span. But the Royals remained a clear leader over Oakland (3.62), Texas (3.67) and Detroit (3.70).

The Royals also entered Saturday with the AL’s best bullpen ERA, at 2.60, despite yielding six runs over 51/3 innings in Friday’s loss.

Counting down

After Saturday, the Royals have just four more games remaining in a 44-games-in-44-days stretch before getting an open date Thursday between three-game road series at Cleveland and Detroit.

It will be the Royals’ first open date since Aug. 19 and only their second since July 29. The Royals are 22-17 through the first 39 games of that 44-game stretch.

Yost said he has no plans to adjust his rotation with two open dates (also Sept. 19) remaining in the season. His current plan is to just allow starters an extra day of rest when those open dates allow it.

Minor details

Class AAA Omaha gets a few days off before opening the Pacific Coast League championship series after completing a three-game sweep over Oklahoma City (Astros) in the American Conference finals.

The Storm Chasers rallied from a five-run deficit Friday for a 7-6 victory on Gorkys Hernandez’s three-run homer in the eighth inning. That blast put Omaha in the PCL championship series for the third straight year.

Omaha will meet Salt Lake (Angels) in a best-of-five series that begins Tuesday in Omaha.

The Storm Chasers won the PCL title in 2011 over Sacramento (A’s) and lost the championship series last season to Reno (Diamondbacks).

Short-season Idaho Falls opens the Pioneer playoffs at home on Monday in a best-of-three series against Grand Junction (Rockies).

Looking back

It was 41 years ago Sunday — Sept. 8, 1972 — that Steve Busby won his major-league debut by pitching a complete game in a 3-2 victory over Minnesota in the second game of a doubleheader at Municipal Stadium.

Busby, then 22, permitted single runs in the first and eighth innings while striking our seven and walking two. The Royals took the lead on John Mayberry’s two-run homer in the sixth inning.

Busby threw two no-hitters in an eight-year career cut short by a shoulder injury. He was 70-54 with a 3.72 ERA in 167 career games that included 150 starts and 53 complete games.

The Royals inducted Busby and outfielder Amos Otis as the first members of their Hall of Fame, which opened in 1986.

To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report. To reach Nicole Poell, call 816-234-4230 or send email to npoell@kcstar.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/nicolepoell.

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