Holland unfazed by failure to get All-Star invitation

07/10/2013 5:20 PM

07/10/2013 5:33 PM

Ask Royals closer Greg Holland, after a few days of reflection, whether he feels snubbed at not being selected for the All-Star Game and he shrugs.

“It just didn’t happen,” he said. “There were a lot of guys who didn’t make it who were deserving too. So you’ve just got to move on.

“I thought I was deserving of consideration, and I imagine I got some. It’s tough to pick a team. That’s part of it.”

Holland might be at this moment the best closer in baseball. He closed out victories Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees for his 14th and 15th consecutive successful saves.

His streak started with a one-two-three ninth inning on May 30 in a 4-2 victory in St. Louis. That was the game that finished at 3:14 a.m.

Holland was good before then — a 2.81 ERA in 17 games — but he has been simply sensational ever since: an 0.95 ERA in 19 one-inning outings while allowing seven hits and three walks and recording 34 strikeouts.

“I feel really comfortable right now, like I’ve felt all year,” he said. “I’m getting ahead (in the count). When you get ahead, you’ve got a lot more options. You don’t get predictable.”

The overall numbers are impressive too.

Holland has a 1.80 ERA in 36 games with 22 saves in 24 chances — and 60 strikeouts in 35 innings. That’s 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings, which leads the majors among pitchers who have worked more than 22 innings.

It all seemed to position Holland, at 27, as a viable All-Star candidate. That honor, announced Sunday, instead went to left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvy Perez.

Disappointment?

“You’re overwhelmed with happiness for Gordo,” Holland said. “He’s put in his time. You see his work ethic. I’m so happy for him to get to experience that. He’s been through a lot in his career.

“And Salvador is one of the best catchers in the league, and he’s only 23. He’s got a lot more (All-Star selections) ahead of him. It’s going to be a good experience for both of them.”

The Final Vote ballot in the American League contained five middle relievers. So barring a late invitation as an injury replacement, Holland will, like most players, get a four-day break after Sunday’s game in Cleveland.

“The main thing is I think the guys in here believe in me when I come out in the ninth inning,” he said. “That’s really all you can ask for at the end of the day.

“Prepare yourself. Stay as healthy as you can. And, hopefully, get to the playoffs. That’s No. 1 for all of us in here. You just hope you have a chance to be an All-Star at some time down the road.”

Precaution on Perez

Catcher Salvy Perez continues to nurse a bruised right shin, which is why backup George Kottaras started Wednesday for the third time in seven games.

“It’s a bruise,” manager Ned Yost said, “and he got hit on it again (Tuesday) night. But it’s not the bruise that makes me nervous. It’s the tightness in the calf that the bruise produces.

“That can result in a calf strain, and then he’s out two weeks. So we’re trying to give him a break every now and then until that thing loosens up a little bit.”

Perez dismissed the concern saying he was fine — “Bueno. Bueno.” He is likely to start Thursday afternoon in the series finale against the Yankees.

Lough’s homer

David Lough has already done something, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that no other player has ever done.

Lough’s leadoff homer in the sixth inning Tuesday was the first ever surrendered by Yankees ace CC Sabathia after the fifth inning to a No. 9 hitter that either tied a game or provided a lead.

The blast, the third of Lough’s career, was a dart that landed in the second deck beyond the right field wall.

“I got it pretty good,” Lough said. “There was no tail on it. It was just kind of straight out. I knew it was staying fair.”

Familiar voice

Veteran broadcaster Bob Davis is returning to the Royals’ radio booth for a short tour starting with Thursday afternoon’s series finale against New York at Yankee Stadium.

Ryan Lefebvre is returning to Kansas City to be with his wife, Sarah, as she delivers the couple’s third child.

Davis will share the radio booth with Steve Stewart for Thursday’s game against the Yankees and the games Friday and Sunday against the Indians in Cleveland.

Steve Physioc will replace Lefebvre on TV play-by-play for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Since Saturday’s game won’t be televised by Fox Sports Kansas City, Physioc will join Stewart for that game’s radio broadcast.

Davis spent 16 seasons as part of the Royals’ broadcast team, on TV and radio, from 1997 to 2012.

Tribute for Heroes

Clayton Zupon of Peculiar will represent the Royals at the All-Star festivities over the next several days at Citi Field in New York as part of the “Tribute for Heroes” campaign.

The program seeks to recognize and honor veterans and military service members.

Zupon passed up potential baseball scholarships to join the Marines. On his second deployment to the Middle East, he was diagnosed with a plum-size tumor in his brain and later another on his spine.

A single father with a 2-year-old son, Zupon was given 12 months to live. Three years later, he continues to beat those odds.

Zupon serves as a volunteer with kids at the Cancer Center at Children's Hospital. He also teaches and coaches youth bowling and participates in motorcycle rides to raise money for wounded vets.

Minor details

Hi-A Wilmington right-hander Kyle Zimmer turned in the type of performance Tuesday that the Royals envisioned when they selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft.

Zimmer registered 13 strikeouts in six innings in an 8-1 victory over Frederick. He permitted one run and four hits and didn’t walk a batter.

“I feel like my stuff has been there all year,” Zimmer told the Wilmington News Journal. “I think I’m just using it a little bit better than I was (earlier in the season). I’m getting into a groove.”

Zimmer, 21, is just 3-8 with a 5.00 ERA in 17 starts but, as stated, has shown signs of harnessing his potential. He is 3-2 with a 2.81 ERA in his last five starts with 36 strikeouts in 32 innings.

Baseball America cited Zimmer as its “prospect pitcher of the day” for his performance. It also recently ranked him, despite his early season struggles, as the game’s No. 28 prospect.

Looking back

It was 45 years ago Thursday — July 11, 1968 — that ground was broken on the Truman Sports Complex. The Royals didn’t move into their new stadium until 1973.

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