Billy Burns started to lift the lid off an old plastic cake container, preparing to move Rally Mantis Jr. into his new home.
“Who wants to grab him?” the Royals outfielder said with a smile.
A few hours before the Royals’ game against Minnesota on Thursday, teammates gathered around the main table in their Kauffman Stadium clubhouse to watch Burns transport the unofficial team mascot into its new plastic cage.
“What’s going on with my life right now?” pitcher Danny Duffy deadpanned nearby.
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“Use your hand!” catcher Salvador Perez yelled while standing a few feet away.
Slowly, Burns dropped a wet paper towel under the praying mantis, lifting him into his new container, filled with plants, crickets and moths. Burns spent a recent night perusing the Internet to research what a mantis needed in its habitat.
“I want to take care of him,” Burns said. “He’s part of our team now.”
Rally Mantis Jr. is the second good-luck charm of the Royals after the team’s first Rally Mantis died last week in Minnesota. Edinson Volquez and Alcides Escobar were able to capture the second critter with help from a fan in Detroit.
“It’s great for us, something different,” outfielder Paulo Orlando said. “You lose the first mantis, but you find the little one. He’s still alive. Hopefully he’s still alive for all the games.”
Burns is doing his best to make sure that happens. He’s been selected as the bug’s keeper after the first mantis took a liking to him, crawling on his hat and sitting there awhile.
“Some of the guys just thought it was funny,” Burns said. “I think the only reason I’m taking care of him is because I actually care about him not dying, so people are just like, ‘You can take care of him.’”
It’s hard to argue with the insects’ results. Rally Mantis was 5-1 before his death, and Rally Mantis Jr. started 3-0 following KC’s sweep of Detroit.
Burns promised that, health permitting, Rally Mantis Jr. would be going on the team’s road trip to Miami next week. He also will continue to have a good view of the games.
“He’ll be out there with us in the dugout,” Burns said, “supporting and cheering on the team.”