Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt admits that most of his time with the Royals was marked by frustration, but he insists no bad feelings linger.
“I just see the game through a different set of eyes,” Affeldt said at the World Series media day. “When I was in Kansas City, I was trying to prove something. I was trying to make a name, I was trying to prove that I could be in the big leagues. I was failing.”
That failure wasn’t entirely his own fault.
A third-round pick of the Royals in 1997, Affeldt made his debut with the team in 2002, and he remains thankful for the opportunity the franchise afforded him.
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The Royals stuck with him during a rookie season in which he had a 4.64 ERA. However, he was placed on the disabled list because of a persistent blister on his pitching hand.
The problem forced him to the DL again the following year, but that was just part of his trouble. He bounced between the rotation and the bullpen frequently in his five seasons with the team, even spending time as the closer.
“It was very, very tough,” Affeldt said. “There’s no doubt. To be a starter and to be a reliever, they’re two different mentalities. When you’re bouncing back and forth, when you’re a swing guy, it’s very, very tough to do. You don’t understand roles and don’t understand what you’re trying to prepare for. There are two different ways of going about hitters based on whether you’re a starter or a reliever.”
Affeldt started the 2006 season as a starter, but by the end of May he was bounced back to the bullpen. His last start as a Royal was a doozy, allowing 10 runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings at Yankee Stadium on May 27, 2006.
At that point, his ERA was 7.80. The Royals shifted him to the bullpen, and Affeldt found success. He had a 2.96 ERA and opponents hit .174 against him, perhaps a precursor of things to come.
On July 31, new Royals general manager Dayton Moore traded Affeldt and pitcher Denny Bautista to the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Scott Dohmann and first baseman Ryan Shealy.
The first thing the Rockies told Affeldt was that he was only going to be a reliever going forward, and that’s all he’s done since. After a season and a half in Colorado, which included a World Series appearance in 2007, Affeldt spent a year with the Reds, then joined the Giants in 2009. Since leaving the Royals, Affeldt has a 3.17 ERA and has won a pair of World Series rings with San Francisco.
While the days in Kansas City were tough, Affeldt understood that the Royals were struggling.
“They were in a situation where they had a lot of holes and chaos and they were trying to figure out what was going on and who was going to fit best,” Affeldt said. “I just ran out of time, to be honest.”
And he learned more about becoming a pitcher rather than the thrower he was in Kansas City.
“I used to be a guy that tried to throw as hard as I could and strike everybody out,” Affeldt said. “Now I don’t have enough energy to do that. I’d rather get you out on three pitches and hit it to somebody and sneak in and sneak out. I don’t want to be out there more than 15 pitches.
“Back then I didn’t understand any of that, I’d throw belt-high heaters as hard as I could, I’d throw curveballs and hopefully I got you out. ... If I got a guy out, I was thankful. Now, if I don’t get a guy out the right way, if he hits it too hard, I tell myself I need to make a better pitch. I was just hoping to get out of an inning when I was in Kansas City.”