Part of a closer’s job is get ready in a hurry, so Greg Holland remained placid Sunday after learning his plans for the next three days required a major overhaul.
Holland was selected as a replacement player on the American League roster for the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Citi Field in New York. He learned of the honor immediately after the Royals’ 6-4 loss to the Indians.
His first reaction?
“It would have been better if we’d won today,” he said. “I’m just a little bummed out about how we ended up this last five games. I’m sure (the excitement) will set in at some point.”
Holland, 27, had time to make and take a few quick texts and phone calls before heading to the airport to join teammates Alex Gordon and Salvy Perez for a flight to New York via owner David Glass’ private plane.
“It’s exciting,” Holland said. “I thought about it a lot leading up to (the original announcement), and I didn’t get in. But I was so happy about Salvy and Gordo that it was easy to move on from (any disappointment).”
Gordon and Perez were announced a week earlier as AL reserves.
Holland was one of several late replacements Sunday for players previously selected. He fills the spot vacated by Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma, who can’t pitch Tuesday because he started Sunday against the Angels.
“It’s well-deserved,” manager Ned Yost said, “and we were hoping that would be the case. Luckily, it happened. Three representatives from the Kansas City Royals is a big accomplishment.”
The last time the Royals had three players on the AL team was 1988, when first baseman George Brett, shortstop Kurt Stillwell and pitcher Mark Gubicza were selected.
Holland is 2-1 with 22 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 36 appearances. He also has 60 strikeouts in 35 innings while holding opponents to a .171 average.
“I hope he gets a chance to go in there and pitch,” bullpen partner Tim Collins said. “He’s one of those guys who doesn’t show (excitement). He doesn’t even look excited to be going.
“As good as his numbers are, he doesn’t realize he’s an All-Star. He’s one of those guys who just goes out there and does his job.”
Asked whether he was properly packed for the change in plans, Holland stared at his bag before answering sheepishly: “I’ve got a lot of golf shirts. I don’t know if that will pass. We’ll see what happens.”
The Royals selected Holland in the 10th round of the 2007 draft after he helped Western Carolina win the Southern League title.
Holland served a set-up reliever before becoming the club’s closer following a July 31, 2012 trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati for two minor-league pitchers.
Less than a year later, Holland joins franchise’s list of All-Star closers. Dan Quisenberry (1982-84) and Jeff Montgomery (1992-93 and 1996) were picked three times. Joakim Soria (2008, 2010) was a two-time selection.
“It’s one of those things,” he said. “You grow up as a kid imagining you’re going to play in the World Series and play in the All-Star Game. It’s a dream come true.”
Holland paused before deadpanning: “Hopefully, they’ll give me a uniform and everything. ... Obviously, I’m excited about the opportunity to go see some of the best players in the world play baseball.”