September 12, 2013

Most Royals planned to use open date to escape grind

Think the Royals were hanging around their hotel to track the postseason chase Thursday when the schedule provided just their second open date since July 29? “I’m going to watch football and enjoy my day off,” left fielder Alex Gordon said.

Think the Royals were hanging around the posh Townsend Hotel in nearby Birmingham to track the postseason chase Thursday when the schedule provided just their second open date since July 29?

“I’m going to watch football and enjoy my day off,” left fielder Alex Gordon said. “We’ll probably pay attention a little to the scoreboard, but we’ve just got to win games.”

Several players planned to go to the movies before mounting up Friday for the short go in the American League postseason chase: the final 16 games over a 17-day span beginning with three this weekend against the Tigers.

The Royals entered their open date just two games behind Tampa Bay in the battle for the AL’s final wild-card spot. But New York, Cleveland and Baltimore were all positioned between the Royals and the Rays.

All four clubs were in action on Thursday: New York at Baltimore; Cleveland at Chicago; and Tampa Bay playing host to Boston. By day’s end, the Royals would be either 1 1/2 games or 2 1/2 games back.

“Will I be paying attention?” pitcher James Shields pondered. “Maybe a little bit. But, honestly, we’ve played 44 games in 44 days. We’ve got a day off. I’m going to shut my phone off and go hang out and enjoy my day off.”

Herrera’s hand issue

Reliever Kelvin Herrera cited an untrimmed thumbnail for opening a small cut on his middle finger of his throwing hand while throwing his triple-digit heater in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory at Cleveland.

“When the edge of my nail grows out a little bit,” he said, “it sometimes (catches) my finger when I throw my fastball.”

The cut is on the lower backside of his finger and, he said, does not affect his ability to throw any of his pitches.

Herrera was checked twice Tuesday by trainer Nick Kenney after replacing Jeremy Guthrie in the seventh inning. Herrera faced four batters and gave up three hits before Luke Hochevar closed out the inning.

Among the slowest

It won’t surprise Royals fans to learn designated hitter Billy Butler is among slowest players in baseball in going from home to first on potential double-play grounders.

Not the slowest, though.

The folks at Baseball Info Solutions, using three timings as a minimum, determined Cubs catcher Welington Castillo is actually a few ticks slower on potential double-play grounders.

Specifically, Castillo averages 4.84 seconds in getting from home to first. Butler averages 4.81. White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Paul Konerko is third at 4.77.

TV reminder

All three of the Royals’ weekend games against the Tigers at Comerica Park can be seen on television in the Kansas City area, but they’ll be on a different network each day.

Fox Sports Kansas City is carrying Friday night’s series opener but won’t telecast Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. MLB Network will show Saturday’s game, and TBS will carry Sunday’s game.

Minor awards

Infielders Christian Colon and Hunter Dozier, each a former first-round pick, were among the 16 players- and pitchers-of-the-year selected for the organization’s eight minor-league affiliates.

All 16 are tentatively scheduled to be recognized prior to the Sept. 20 game against Texas at Kauffman Stadium. An autograph session is also planned from 5:30-6:15 p.m. at Gate A.

The organization’s overall minor-league player- and pitcher-of-the-year will be announced in the offseason.

The recipients:

• Class AAA Omaha: Colon (12 homers, 58 RBIs and .273 average) and LHP Chris Dwyer (10-11 and 3.55 ERA).

• Class AA Northwest Arkansas: 1B Matt Fields (31-87-.222) and RHP Aaron Brooks (7-7, 4.17).

• Hi-A Wilmington: OF Lane Adams (7-39-.276) and LHP Sam Selman (11-9, 3.38).

• Lo-A Lexington: SS Raul Mondesi (7-47-.261) and RHP Christian Binford (8-7, 2.67).

• Short-season Idaho Falls: Dozier (7-43-.303) and LHP Patrick Conroy (6-2, 3.30).

• Rookie Burlington: 3B Mauricio Ramos (0-24-.322) and RHP Luis Santos (4-1, 2.25).

• Rookie Surprise: 1B/OF Samir Duenez (0-19-.294) and RHP Pedro Fernandez (0-1, 1.82).

• Dominican Academy: INF Angelo Castellano (0-25-.265) and RHP Yunior Marte (4-3, 1.71).

Omaha looks to clinch

Omaha can clinch its second Pacific Coast League title in three years Friday when it carries a 2-0 lead into its best-of-five series at Salt Lake (Angels).

The Storm Chasers posted two victories Wednesday at home, 3-2 and 2-1. Both times, they won in their final at-bat. Wednesday’s first game was the completion of Tuesday’s rain-suspended contest.

Omaha lists lefty Justin Marks (6-8, 4.58) as Friday’s starter against right-hander Jarrett Grube (7-5, 4.47). The fourth and fifth games, if necessary, are Saturday and Sunday at Salt Lake.

The Royals’ affiliation with Omaha dates to the franchise inaugural 1969 season. Omaha previously won titles in 1969, 1970, 1978, 1990 and 2011.

Idaho Falls in title hunt

Idaho Falls opens the best-of-three Pioneer League championship series Saturday at home against Helena (Brewers). The second and, if necessary, third games are Monday and Tuesday in Helena.

The Chukars reached the finals by getting two homers from Michael Antonio in Wednesday’s 5-2 series-clinching victory at Grand Junction (Rockies).

Idaho Falls is seeking its first title since becoming a Royals affiliate in 2004.

Looking back

It was 30 years ago Friday — Sept. 13, 1983 — that Dan Quisenberry broke what was then the major-league record for saves by getting his 39th by closing out a 4-3 victory at California.

The previous record of 38 was set by Detroit’s John Hiller in 1973.

Quisenberry finished 1983 with 45 saves, which Bruce Sutter matched the following year for St. Louis. The two held the record jointly until Dave Righetti of the Yankees had 46 in 1986.

The current major-league saves record is 62 by Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels in 2008.

Quisenberry’s 45 saves were career high and remain a club record, which Jeff Montgomery matched in 1993. Greg Holland currently has 42 saves with 16 games remaining.

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