Results tagged ‘ Royals ’

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

Royals’ Yost not making predictions

You won’t find Royals manager Ned Yost listening to radio, watching TV, reading baseball annual or even reading MLB.com to see what the so-called experts are saying his club will do in 2011.

“I don’t listen to ‘em. They’re a waste of time,” Yost said. “I don’t know what anybody said about anything, to be honest with you.”

In case you missed it, the Royals were champions of the Cactus League by winning percentage with a 20-10-1 record and had the best overall winning percentage (.667, not counting the tie) of all Major League clubs. The Giants won more games, finishing 23-12 with a .657 percentage. In the Grapefruit League, the Twins were best with a 20-12 record (.625).

–Dick Kaegel

Let’s get it started

The last time it counted – 149 days ago to be exact – Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz swinging to give the Giants their first World Series title since 1954.

Hot Stove season came and went. Spring Training games were played.

Now, it’s time for a new season.

Opening Day 2011 features six matchups (all times ET): Braves-Nationals at 1:05 p.m.; Tigers-Yankees at 1:05 p.m.; Brewers-Reds at 2:10 p.m.; Angels-Royals at 4:10 p.m.; Padres-Cardinals at 4:15 p.m.; and Giants-Dodgers at 8 p.m. in the ESPN Opening Night game.

The Giants begin their quest to become the first repeat champion since the 1998-2000 Yankees, and the first in the NL to repeat since the 1975-76 Reds. But the Phillies added Cliff Lee, giving them a philthy rotation that could be the best in MLB history. Over in the AL, the Red Sox added some serious firepower in the likes of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

The 27 other MLB clubs begin today with the same record, the same hopes, the same dreams.  Follow us all day as we chronicle the dawn of a new season, from the first pitch on the East Coast, to the last out in SoCal. Who will rise in October? Buckle up and enjoy The Show.

Roundup: O’Day agrees to deal, avoids arbitration

Another trip to arbitration was avoided on Sunday as the Rangers reached a deal with reliever Darren O’Day for 2011.
O’Day will earn $1.251 million dollars in 2011, roughly halfway between the two parties’ figures. O’Day filed for arbitration seeking $1.4 million, while the Rangers submitted a potential salary of $1.05 million.
The right-hander earned a significant raise in his first season of arbitration eligibility after putting up impressive numbers in ’10. O’Day registered a 2.03 ERA and allowed just 12 walks in 62 innings last season. 
With O’Day taken care of, the Rangers still have two arbitration-eligible players in outfielder Josh Hamilton and right-hander Frank Francisco.
Here’s a look at some news and notes from around the league on Sunday:
- Royals first baseman Billy Butler will make $3 million this season, plus a $2 million signing bonus, as part of the four-year extension he agreed to with the club on Saturday, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted on Sunday. Butler will then make $8 million from 2012-14. The club also holds a $12.5 million option for the 2015 season as part of the deal, with a $1 million buyout.
- Regardless of where the Red Sox sit in the standings, closer Jonathan Papelbon won’t be off limits for possible trades, a team source confirmed to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. 
- Following up with yesterday’s Vladimir Guerrero rumors, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the O’s haven’t talked with the veteran in two weeks. There have been several conflicting reports over the Orioles’ progress with Guerrero in recent days, but it seems the slugger’s options are fairly limited at this point.
–Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Billy Butler locked up in Kansas City

Already once this offseason, the Royals were a Hot Stove headliner. That was last month, when they bid farewell to their ace, Zack Greinke.

 

This time, they’ve topped the day for the talent they’re keeping not letting go.

First baseman Billy Butler has signed a four-year, $30 million contract extension, both sides announced Saturday. Butler, 25-years-old in April, was arbitration eligible and hit .318 with 15 home runs, a .388 on-base percentage and a .469 slugging percentage in 2010.

“I just get to worry about playing baseball, and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year, and this is where I want to be. The city’s great, and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”

Another Royals corner infielder (and DH) for so long — 13 years of his 16 big league years — Mike Sweeney has told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel that he’ll have a decision on his playing future by next Sunday.

Sweeney, 37, made the playoffs for the first time in his career last season with Philadelphia and singled in his lone at-bat. He’s a career .297 hitter who batted .252 between the Mariners and Phils last season.

“I made it clear to my agents that the only way I’m going to play this year is if a contending team offered me a guaranteed deal — and I told them the chance of that happening is next to none,” Sweeney said. “But that’s the criteria I set for them.”

Elsewhere around the league:

? Orioles president Andy MacPhail shot down reports that the Orioles were closing to signing Vladimir Guerrero, although the club is interested. “[The] report is not accurate,” MacPhail told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli via email.

? Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said that a trade of Armando Galarraga, who has been designated for assignment, is likely by next week. “We’re making some progress on some trade talks at this point,” Dombrowski said. “Not quite sufficient to make any announcements, but I would think by the middle of next week we would be in a position where we would make a deal.”

? Right-hander Jason Hammel is back with the Rockies, signing a two-year, $7.75 million contract on Saturday to avoid two of his three years of arbitration. The 28-year-old is 20-17 with a 4.57 ERA since joining the Rockies in a trade with the Rays in 2009.

? The Giants signed their lone remaining arbitration candidate to a one-year deal. Outfielder Andres Torres is believed to have received $2.1 million. He played for $426,000 last year. The switch-hitter turns 33 on Wednesday.

? SportsIllustrated reported on Twitter that a friend of the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, Jose Carlos Thompson, has signed with the Astros for $250,000. Thompson attended junior college at Western Oklahoma, and the school’s website lists his hometown as Woburn, Mass.

Butler snags four-year, $30-million deal with Royals

Billy Butler and the Royals have agreed to a four-year, $30-million contract extension, the first baseman said Saturday.

The multi-year contract avoids salary arbitration and gives Butler the security of a long-term deal through 2014.

“I just get to worry about playing baseball and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year and this where I want to be. The city’s great and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”

Butler had filed in arbitration for $4.3 million and the Royals offered $3.4 million. Now that’s off the table.

His new deal was worked out by agent Greg Genske of Legacy Sports with Royals general manager Dayton Moore.

“It worked out for both sides,” Butler said. “I’ve always been happy to be a Royal. We have a lot of young guys coming up and we plan on doing great things. It just means I’m a big part of it.”

Butler, his wife Katie and their daughter Kenley live in Idaho Falls where Butler made his pro debut in 2004 with a rousing .373 average. He was in Kansas City for the Royals FanFest.

“It’s just what’s best for your family,” Butler said. “We’re happy to be done with it and Dayton and the whole organization were great.”

Butler on Saturday was to receive the Royals Player of the Year Award for the second straight time after setting new career highs in several categories, including average (.318), hits (189), walks (69) and on-base percentage (.388).
Dick Kaegel.

Davies signs with Royals, avoids arbitration

Right-hander Kyle Davies, expected to step it up as part of the Royals’ rotation this year, signed a one-year contract for 2011 on Tuesday and avoided salary arbitration.

Davies signed for $3.2 million, a sizable increase over the $1.8 million he earned last year.

That leaves first baseman Billy Butler as the Royals’ only arbitration-eligible player unsigned.

Davies made a career-high 32 starts last season, just one fewer than staff leader Zack Greinke and posted an 8-12 record with a 5.34 ERA. Now Davies is tasked with helping to fill the void left by Greinke’s trade to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Dick Kaegel.

Roundup: Thome returns to Twins, helps get Pavano

We are now exactly one month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, but there is offseason work to be done. And several teams were busy on Friday.

The Twins made the most noise with one move, signing Jim Thome to a one-year, $3 million contract that includes performance incentives based on plate appearances. Now, not only do they have a productive, veteran lefty slugger — one who was critical for them while Justin Morneau went down for the final three months of the season — but they may have a nice recruiting chip.

Thome is back, but the Twins still want to resign right-handed starter Carl Pavano, who was big for the Twins rotation behind staff ace Francisco Liriano. Thome, of course, feels the same way. So on Friday, while addressing his own new contract, he said: “Trust me, when I get off the phone with you [reporters], I will definitely be recruiting him and be sending him some text messages.”

General manager Paul Smith said the Twins are continuing in their negotiations with Pavano’s representation and hope to get a decision one way or another next week. Bringing back Thome certaintly can’t hurt their chances.

Here’s more from around the league Friday…

* The Athletics beefed up a bullpen that was already brimming with talented young arms, signing righty Grant Balfour to a two-year deal
with a third-year club option. According to The Associated Press,
Balfour is guaranteed $3.75 million in 2011 and $4 million in 2012.

* The Royals helped their thin rotation, signing left-hander Jeff Francis to a one-year contract that’s worth $2 million and includes performance bonuses.

* The Nationals introduced first baseman Adam LaRoche at a Friday afternoon

news conference at Nationals Park. It came after the two sides agreed
to terms a two-year deal worth about $16 million last week.

* The Mets and Cardinals dished out a few interesting Minor League contracts. New York inked Willie Harris, who’s all but guaranteed to be the backup outfielder and get somewhere between 250 and 400 plate appearances. St. Louis, meanwhile, brought in right-handers Miguel Batista and Ian Snell.

– Alden Gonzalez   

Royals sign LHP Francis to 1-year contract

The Royals and Jeff Francis have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported via Twitter on Friday. Francis, whose deal is reportedly pending a physical, is expected to join Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan in Kansas City’s starting rotation.

The 30-year-old left-hander went 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for the Rockies in 2010, before Colorado declined its $7 million 2011 option on him in November.

Francis led the Rockies to their only World Series appearance in 2007 by winning a then-franchise record-tying 17 games. He then missed the 2009 season because of shoulder surgery.

The Rockies’ No. 9 overall Draft choice in 2002 is 55-50 with a 4.77 ERA and a 2.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 150 games (149 starts) through his six-year career.

– Alden Gonzalez 

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