Royals pitcher Ervin Santana deflects speculation of his pending free agency

09/11/2013 12:28 AM

09/11/2013 12:28 AM

Royals right-hander Ervin Santana refuses, at this point anyway, to be drawn into any discussion on his looming free agency and its looming riches.

Not merely because he doesn’t want to talk about it. Rather, Santana doesn’t even want to think about it.

“There’s nothing on my mind except to finish the season strong and healthy,” he insisted, “After that, whatever happens is what’s going to happen. That’s my goal — finish strong and healthy.”

Santana, 30, is making $13 million in completing a multiyear deal signed on Valentine’s Day in 2009 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Royals are paying all but $1 million of Santana’s salary after acquiring him last October for minor-league pitcher Brandon Sisk. And, yes, they want to keep Santana around.

“We’ll see how that goes,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “Obviously, he’s a free agent. I think he likes it here. We certainly like him. It’s just a matter of working hard and trying to make it work.”

That figures to be tough despite a winless stretch that reached seven starts Monday night in a 4-3 loss to the Indians. Santana still ranks 10th among American League starters in innings and earned-run average.

Further, the industry consensus puts Santana as one of the top starting pitchers on the free-agent market, although signing him will come at the cost of a top draft pick — if the Royals, as expected, make a qualifying offer.

Those offers are standardized each year at the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players in the game. This year’s figure is expected to be around $14 million for a one-year deal.

Clubs must make a qualifying offer to receive a draft pick as compensation if the player signs elsewhere. The player can choose to accept the qualifying offer but, last year, no player did so.

All that said, Santana appears open to remaining with the Royals.

“I like it a lot,” he said. “Great people. Great teammates. The training staff is incredible. It’s a good town for baseball. There’s not much to do except focus on baseball. That’s very good.”

That’s about as far as he’s willing to go, though.

“I just take it one day at a time,” he said. “Every time when I take the mound, I’m not thinking about being a free agent. Nothing like that. Just go out there and do my best. That’s it.”

Postseason tickets

The Royals, for the first time in more than two decades, are taking orders on possible postseason games — and brace yourself for sticker shock.

The packages include tickets for all 14 possible games and can run into the thousands of dollars. The prices for postseason tickets are set by individual clubs with guidelines and approval from Major League Baseball.

Royals’ season-ticket holders have either received the necessary forms and information or should be receiving them soon. Commitment and at least partial payment is required by Sept. 18.

Those wishing to purchase new season-ticket packages for next season can, with a non-refundable $500 deposit, also purchase postseason tickets.

Individual-game tickets, if available, will be offered to the public at some as-yet undetermined date after Sept. 18.

If the Royals fail to reach postseason, or if they play fewer games than the maximum, any submitted payment will be applied to next year’s season tickets unless a separate form is submitted requesting a refund.

A detailed explanation of the Royals’ postseason ticket policies can be found at

http://atmlb.com/15P3xHQ

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No. 13

Alex Gordon’s homer in Monday’s loss, a two-run blast in the eighth inning, was the 100th of his career. He is the 13th player in franchise history to reach triple figures.

The only other active Royals with 100 or more is Billy Butler, who entered Tuesday’s game with 117. George Brett is the all-time leader with 317.

TV time

Fans wishing to follow Wednesday’s series finale from Progressive Field, which begins at 11:05 a.m. Central time, will have to go old school — radio only. There is no TV coverage.

And following the Royals for their three weekend games in Detroit will require some channel surfing.

Fox Sports Kansas City is carrying Friday night’s game but isn’t doing the next two games. Saturday night’s game will be the featured offering on MLB Network, and TBS will show Sunday’s afternoon’s series finale.

Omaha opens PCL finals

Class AAA Omaha made it only into the second inning Tuesday before rain forced a suspension of its game against Salt Lake (Angels) in the first game of a best-of-five Pacific Coast League championship series.

The score was tied 1-1 when the game was suspended.

Play will be resumed at that point at 1 p.m. Wednesday and played to its conclusion. The second game of the series will start at 7:05 p.m.

The series shifts Thursday to Salt Lake City. The fourth and fifth games, if necessary, are Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Looking to clinch

Rain also halted short-season Idaho Falls’ bid Tuesday to clinch its best-of-three series against Grand Junction (Rockies) in the Pioneer League playoffs.

The Chukars won Monday’s opener 7-1 at home before the series shifted to Grand Junction. The second game will now be played Wednesday afternoon.

The Chukars plan to send their ace, left-hander Patrick Conroy, to the mound in a bid to secure a spot in the championship series against either Great Falls (White Sox) or Helena (Brewers).

Helena won 15-6 in Monday’s series opener.

Looking back

It was 35 years ago Wednesday — Sept. 11, 1978 — that Amos Otis became the first player in Royals history to have at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same season.

Otis reached the milestone with a three-run homer in the third inning against Oakland’s Matt Keough in a 7-2 victory at then-Royals Stadium. Otis finished the season with 22 homers and 32 steals.

It was Otis’ only 20-20 season, and just three other players have accomplished it: Carlos Beltran (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003), Bo Jackson (1988 and 1989) and Jeff Francoeur (2011).

Etc.

• Salvy Perez went two for four with an RBI single. His 23 RBIs since Aug. 17 are the most in the majors.

• Alcides Escobar had two RBIs for his first multi-RBI game since Aug. 7, when he had two in a 5-2 victory over Minnesota at Kauffman Stadium.

• Escobar’s homer broke a personal streak of 467 at-bats without one. The longest current homerless streak on the Royals is 276 by Jamey Carroll; the longest current streak as a Royal is 167 by Chris Getz.

• Jeremy Guthrie’s club-leading 14 victories are three more than his previous career high (11 in 2010 for Baltimore). He worked at least six innings for the 14th time in his last 15 starts.

• Greg Holland needs four saves over the season’s final 17 games to tie the club record of 45 set in 1983 by Dan Quisenberry and matched in 1993 by Jeff Montgomery.

100 homers club

Alex Gordon became the 13th player in Royals history to hit 100 homers when he hit a two-run shot in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Indians. Here are the others:

George Brett: 317

Mike Sweeney: 197

Amos Otis: 193

Hal McRae: 169

Frank White: 160

John Mayberry: 143

Danny Tartabull: 124

Carlos Beltran: 123

Steve Balboni: 119

Billy Butler, 117

Bo Jackson: 109

Mike Macfarlane: 103

Alex Gordon: 100

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