The Royals set a franchise record with three players earning Gold Glove awards for their defensive skills last season. Is it possible the club could field almost an entire team of Gold Glove winners?
Manager Ned Yost thinks so. The way shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain have flashed leather so far this season, Yost says they could join catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer and left fielder Alex Gordon as Gold Glove winners.
Escobar made a running, back-to-the infield, basket catch with a runner on first and one out in the second inning of Wednesday’s 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. He also threw out Evan Longoria from deep in the hole on which Hosmer made a nice scoop; and Escobar threw out two batters after making barehanded pickups on soft rollers.
“I don’t think you can play a better shortstop than he played today on any level on this earth,” Yost said. “He was spectacular.
“We talk about how great our team is defensively, and we had three Gold Glove award winners last year, but I think this team is capable of winning four or five Gold Glovers. I think Escobar is going to win a Gold Glove before it’s all said and done, and … Cain has a chance to be a Gold Glove winner …
“It sounds crazy, but it’s very, very possible.”Aoki stays hot
Right fielder and leadoff man Nori Aoki, who was acquired from Milwaukee in the off-season, hit .500 — 10 for 20 — during the just-completed six game homestand with four runs, a double, two triples, an RBI, two walks and a stolen base.
This after opening the year going zero for nine in Detroit.
“I knew he was a nice player,” Yost said. “I knew the Milwaukee Brewers organization loved him, and I knew the fans in Milwaukee loved him. I knew we were getting something special. Defensively, he’s been outstanding, and offensively he’s been exactly what we needed at the top of the order, something we’ve lacked the last three or four years, a bonafide leadoff hitter that can create havoc with the bat.
“He’ll take his walks. He can hit the ball to all fields. That’s what’s so amazing about him because he’s really tough to defend. He’ll hit that real tough, down-and-away pitch to left field and then if you bust him in, boom, he turns on the ball in, too. He’s one of the few guys I’ve seen who can handle the whole plate.”Ciriaco clears waivers
Utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco cleared waivers on Thursday and was assigned to Class AAA Omaha.
The Royals designated Ciriaco for assignment last week to clear space on their roster for an extra arm in the bullpen. That reliever, Aaron Brooks, was never used.
The team shipped Brooks, along with lefty Donnie Joseph, back to the minors on Wednesday morning in return for second baseman Johnny Giavotella and reliever Louis Coleman.Etc.
• Escobar’s streak of 30 consecutive successful stolen-base attempts came to an end in the third inning on Wednesday when he was picked off first by pitcher Jake Odorizzi. The franchise record is 33 steals without being caught set by Carlos Beltran during 1999-01. Since the start of 2012, Escobar is 58 for 64, or 91 percent, the best stolen-base percentage in the major leagues among players with at least 40 attempts.
• Yost recorded his 288th win as Royals manager against Tampa Bay, passing John Wathan for fourth on the all-time list. Tony Muser is third at 317 victories. Yost is 288-333 since becoming the Royals’ 16th full-time manager on May 13, 2010.
• Outfielder Brett Eibner had a day to remember on Wednesday for Class AAA Omaha. Eibner, a second-round draft pick in 2010, went five-for-five with a double, two home runs and nine RBIs in a 20-3 victory over Memphis.The Star’s Andy McCullough contributed to this report.