Royals’ Whit Merrifield travels in NASCAR circles, but he’s an outsider

It took a couple seconds for Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield’s to come up with the name. He knew he was supposed to have a guy on the NASCAR circuit, but there was a pause before he came up with Kansas native Clint Bowyer.

Merrifield grew up in South Carolina and starred at the University of South Carolina, not too far removed from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. And he’s got another connection to auto racing, his sister Costner worked for as a sideline reporter/on-air personality when Merrifield broke into the majors.

“Actually, my college roommate was a front left tire changer or something out of college,” Merrifield said. “He got a job working on a pit crew, and my sister’s boyfriend is a jack man. That’s about all I know about NASCAR.”

Despite having NASCAR aficionados surrounding him in multiple aspects of his life, including his skipper Ned Yost, Merrifield remains in the dark about the intricacies of auto racing.

“I don’t know nothing about NASCAR,” Merrifield said.

The one exception: Bowyer is his guy.

Off day for Billy: Chris Owings steps into center field on Saturday for Billy Hamilton. Hamilton is just getting an off-day. Owings has had success against the Phillies in the past. He’s reached safely in each of his 17 career games against Philadelphia, including a hit in 16 games.

Phillies starter: The Philadelphia Phillies have named Cole Irvin their starter for Sunday. The lefty-hander will make his MLB debut. The Phillies will make a move following Saturday’s game to add him to the roster.

The other Moneyball: Friday night’s Royals Charities Broadcast Auction raised $137,000 slated for organizations dealing with children, education, youth baseball and softball as well as military families. Over the course of the past 10 years, more than $1 million has been raised through the Royals Charities Broadcast Auction, according to the Royals.

Saturday’s lineup

1. Whit Merrifield, 2b

2. Adalberto Mondesi, ss

3. Alex Gordon, lf

4. Hunter Dozier, 3b

5. Jorge Soler, rf

6. Ryan O’Hearn, 1b

7. Kelvin Gutierrez, dh

8. Chris Owings, cf

9. Martin Maldonado, c

Starting pitcher: Brad Keller (rh, 2-3, 3.99)

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.