Results tagged ‘ Royals ’

Pujols debut signals new Angels era

ANAHEIM – Albert Pujols has said that his first Opening Day at-bat is one of very few times he’ll ever feel nervous on a baseball field – along with his first at-bat of Spring Training and his first at-bat of the playoffs.

But Friday night didn’t feel like just any Opening Day for the premier slugger. It was his first under the weight of a $240 million contract, his first without a Cardinals jersey on, and his first in front of a West-coast fan base eager to see great things.

Afterwards, Pujols maintained, it was no different.

“It was the same nerves I’ve been going through my first 11 years in the big leagues,” he said after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and an intentional walk. “It’s just something that my dad told me – if you don’t go through that, whether it’s when you walk in early to the park and get ready, excited for the game, he always told me you ain’t ready. I knew I was ready because I was going through that, and I wanted to do something special. But that’s the way it goes. We got a win. I think that’s the most important thing.”

The Angels drew a sold-out crowd, as expected, on Opening Night against the Royals – an eventual 5-0 win sparked by a Jered Weaver gem and an eighth-inning surge.

Three hours before game time, the parking lot was almost full. When gates opened at 5 p.m. PT, a sea of red flooded in. And when players were introduced, the noise was almost deafening.

In many ways, it was a typical Opening Day for the Angels.

In many ways – because of the expectations and buzz surrounding the Pujols and C.J. Wilson signings – it wasn’t.

“For sure, this is the most exciting it’s been in the area for the Angels,” said Jared Pfeifer, a long-time Angels fan who resides in Yorba Linda, Calif. “I have never seen more people wearing Angels gear in one area my entire life.”

The opening ceremonies included a David Cook National Anthem, ceremonial first pitches thrown out by three members of the 2002 World Series team – Tim Salmon, David Eckstein and Troy Percival – and a C17 flyover.

Before that, an announced crowd of 44,106 provided a loud ovation for Pujols, who doffed his cap from the third-base line in appreciation.

“They were excited,” Pujols said. “They couldn’t wait until this day. Neither could we. We were looking forward to it, and it was great to come up with the win today.”

Angels fans have been jubilant about their club before.

There was that inspiring run to the 2002 World Series. There was the signings of Vladimir Guerrero and Don Baylor. The trades for Rod Carew and Nolan Ryan.

But this, perhaps, is different.

“This is definitely the most excited I’ve ever been going into a season,” added Adam Rank of Huntington Beach, Calif. “There’s just a lot of really high expectations.”

– Alden Gonzalez

Royals search for a situational left-hander for ‘pen

Not much cooking for the Royals as Tuesday’s second day of the Winter Meetings wound down.

“It’s been slow, it really has,” general manager Dayton Moore said.

A search for a situational left-handed reliever isn’t likely to be resolved through a free-agent signing.

“I think it’s going to have to come through a trade or within, from the guys we currently have on the roster, whether it be Tim Collins or Everett Teaford or Ryan Verdugo or Aaron Laffey. Those are guys who are going to get long looks in Spring Training,” Moore said. “Every single one of those pitchers has options so if we acquire somebody who gives us more depth or is more of lock at the Major League level it’s something we would look at. But, as I’ve said, it’s not an easy ‘get.’ “

The Royals haven’t been shy in contacting other clubs about possibilities for deals. “We’ve talked to basically all of them – either myself or one of our people have touched base with everybody,” Moore said.

–Dick Kaegel.

Low-cost pitching options abound for Angels

The question is how long they’re willing to wait out the likes of C.J. Wilson and Ryan Madson. As The Los Angeles Times pointed out on Monday — Day 1 of the Winter Meetings — new general manager Jerry DiPoto plans to meet with Wilson’s agent here in Dallas. Frankly, why wouldn’t he? The real question is whether it’s possible — or even practical — for the Angels to fork over most of their remaining payroll on one arm, to address the best aspect of the team no less.

If they don’t want to go that route, or commit to Madson — remember, the Phillies reportedly offered four years at $44 million — there are a few low-cost options to be had.

Starting pitcher-wise, Mark Buehrle is the logical fit. Problem: A lot of teams want him, and he’s said to be looking for a no-trade clause as part of at least a three-year deal. Some other lefties to keep in mind: Jeff Francis (4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last year), Erik Bedard (3.62 ERA in 24 starts for the Red Sox and Mariners) and Paul Maholm (3.66 ERA in 26 starts for the Pirates).

As for the right-handed bullpen arms, there are plenty from which to choose. The most intriguing may be Octavio Dotel, because of how well he pitched down the stretch for the World Series-champion Cardinals and because of his experience as both a setup man and closer. Dotel (38) shifted from a Type A free agent to a Type B under the new CBA, so he won’t cost the team that signs him a Draft pick.

Some others: LaTroy Hawkins, Francisco Cordero, Takahashi Saito, Frank Francisco, Mike MacDougal, Scott Linebrink and Luis Ayala, among a host of others.

– Alden Gonzalez

Report: Royals to meet with Oswalt’s agent

In the market for starting pitchers, the Royals are taking a look at free-agent Roy Oswalt and are expected to meet with his agent during the General Managers Meetings going on in Milwaukee, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.

Oswalt was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA for the Phillies last season but was limited to 23 starts by back problems. Despite that, the 34-year-old right-hander’s agent, Bob Garber, is looking for a long-term deal.

That probably wouldn’t be a logical move for the Royals who are trying to avoid long-term commitments to veterans who might not fit in the optimistic future of a very young club. But general manager Dayton Moore has made it clear that he’s willing to explore all possibilities.

The Yankees, Nationals and Diamondbacks reportedly have interest in Oswalt. Garber also represents free agent starter C.J. Wilson but he seems  far out of the Royals’ price range.

–Dick Kaegel.

After Aviles swap, nothing more appears in KC sights

With the trade of infielder Mike Aviles to the Red Sox, the Royals have moved both of the third baseman that started the season as alternating regulars. Earlier, Wilson Betemet was dealt to the Tigers.

With less than 24 hours to go to the Trade Deadline, general manager Dayton Moore said he had no other deals pending. As he duly noted, something could pop up but apparently nothing more was in the Royals’ sights as the countdown headed for the final hours.

–Dick Kaegel

Rumors Continue to Rumble for Rays

According to multiple reports, the Rays continue to listen to offers for B.J. Upton. Teams said to be interested include the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, Royals, Nationals and Braves. However, while they are listening to possible deals, they aren’t willing to just give him away, which could lead to Upton finishing the season with the team.

Meanwhile, James Shields appears to be off the market, though according to CBSSports.com, right-handers Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are in play.

–Bill Chastain

Royals would demand major return for Soria

Now that the Royals have cracked the Trade Deadline  by dealing third baseman Wilson Betemit, can something else be in the works? Like a deal for closer Joakim Soria?

Not very likely, according to what general manager Dayton Moore told the Kansas City Star as he tempered a suggestion he made on MLB Network Radio that the asking price for Soria would be two impact starting pitchers, one ready now and one by 2013. Moore told the newspaper he was only suggesting any trade for Soria would command “a heavy price.” Certainly the Royals’ prime need is starting pitchers but that doesn’t make them any different from most clubs.

Just a couple of days ago, Moore told MLB.com he was rather happy with the makeup of his current club including such younger veteran outfielders as Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera, who might attract interest. He didn’t seem like an overly eager “seller.”

The Betemit deal, though, made sense because with Mike Moustakas taking over third base, there was no spot for him.
–Dick Kaegel

Halo 2011!

Pitching, defense and power carried the Angels to an impressive 4-2 Opening Day decision over the Royals under threatening skies at Kauffman Stadium.

Jered Weaver, the Majors’ 2010 strikeout king, was on his game, and Torii Hunter and Jeff Mathis smacked solo home runs to lead the assault against Royals starter Luke Hochevar.

Hunter’s 446-blast to dead center – his third career Opening Day homer and second in Kansas City — snapped a scoreless duel in the fourth.

– Lyle Spencer

Hunter comes out smokin’

Three hours before the season opener at Kauffman Stadium, Torii Hunter was talking about how nice it would be to get that first hit out of the way so he could “relax and just play the game.”

It took Hunter two at-bats. Leading off the fourth inning against Luke Hochhevar, Hunter launched one 446 feet over the wall in dead center, giving Jered Weaver the lead. In his next at-bat, Hunter singled to left center, but the Angels left two stranded.

“I’ve been hitting the ball hard,” Hunter said before the game. “You like to get your swing right before the season starts. It’s like Muhammad Ali when he was training for a fight. He didn’t want to peak too soon. He wanted to be ready for the bell.”

Hunter clearly was ready for the bell and came out smokin’ like Ali’s old adversary, Joe Frazier. – Lyle Spencer

Angels excited about opener

Frigid weather notwithstanding, the Angels are geared up for their season opener against the Royals.

“Every Opening Day is a new experience,” clubhouse leader Torii Hunter said. “We have a great blend here of young guys who can’t wait to get started with their careers and older guys like Vernon [Wells], Bobby [Abreu] and myself who can teach them some things and show them the way. I really like our team. I think we’re ready for a big year.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia echoed Hunter’s sentiments, adding that he’ll feel even better when Kendrys Morales returns from his foot ailment to fortify the heart of the lineup.

“We’re definitely excited, ready to get after it,” Scioscia said from the visitors’ dugout about 2 1/2 hours before game time at Kauffman Stadium. “We feel good about where we are. I know we have some growth. I hope we can continue to improve as we get into the season and get a little deeper.”

That depth was a reference not only to Morales, who could be back in about three weeks, but also setup man Scott Downs, whose recovery from a broken bone in his left big toe is right on schedule. — Lyle Spencer

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