Quickie Husker note:
Eearlier this evening, I witnessed something spectacular for the first time in my life -- a triple play! Nebraska turned one against Northern Colorado. There were runners on first and second, and the batter hit a soft liner to right, which was caught. The runner from first didn't make it back to the bag on time, so that was two. Then, the runner who had been on second just kind of stood around near third, rather than retreating back to 2nd..maybe he wasn't aware that the ball had been caught? Anywho, a quick throw to 2nd led to the completion of a mighty rare feat at any level...and I was there to see it! Yay!
Who's starting for BoSox?
Opening Day is this Monday, which is obviously a good thing. The Royals nation has known since winter who their Opening Day starter would be -- after all, why sink $55 million into a pitcher and not give him the O-Day start? On the other hand, the Red Sox have sunk a lot more than that in Dice-K, and apparently he might not even be starting on Monday. According to Sports Illustrated's baseball preview issue, Boston sees Schilling as their #1 guy, with Dice-K clear down at 3rd in the rotation. Since I will be attending the KC-Boston game in KC on Monday, I do have a vested interest in who Boston throws. I see advantages to either Schilling or Dice-K starting.
Thoughts on Schilling: I have been told he's a total jerk. Yes, I've heard the tales of his arrogant dickery, but I also realize that he is a GREAT pitcher. I've never attended a game in which he was the starting pitcher, so it would be kind of neat to see him throw to start what could be his last good season. (And I'm also aware that people have been saying this about Schilling, and about Roger Clemens, for several years now, and it's not true yet. But I do get that feeling about Schilling, that maybe he's on the way out.)
Thoughts on Dice-K: I love the idea of seeing him make his first American big-league start. After a whole winter's worth of hype, I'd love to see him in action and relish in the media frenzy he creates (I heard that the Japanese press requested nearly 150 media passes for Kauffman Stadium for whenever Dice-K's first start actually is). Some of my favorite pitchers include tenacious workers like Nolan Ryan, so Dice-K's hardcore work ethic (described in detail in last week's SI) is exciting and refreshing in this age of coddling and babying pitchers.
Whoever the Red Sox starter is, it ought to be an exciting game and a tough matchup for the Royals.
Blanco to Omaha, other O-Royals notes
Since I was hired for my summer job with the Omaha Royals, I've been watching the Omaha roster carefully as the big-league club pares down their spring roster and moves players to the minors. Over the weekend, the Royals picked up shortstop Tony Pena, Jr., who is the son of former KC manager Tony Pena. This move spelled doom for KC's struggling shortstop Angel Berroa, who was promptly demoted to AAA and replaced at short by Pena. I think Berroa is, by all accounts, a good guy who is fun to be around, but I'm glad he'll be in Omaha. Maybe this demotion will serve as a wake-up call, the way Mark Teahen's being sent down last year sparked him. I'll be curious to see what comes of this, because the team also has another strong candidate for playing short: Andres Blanco. In games with KC last year, Blanco showed that he has soft, sure hands and a cannon for an arm. His offense was decent but not inspiring, as he's a young guy without much experience in The Show.
According to a royals.com article today, Blanco has been cut from the big-league roster and sent to the Omaha roster. With that move, where will Berroa play? I will be curious to see how the shortstop situation plays out. There have been talks of cutting Berroa from the club altogether, which might be a possibility if the addition of Pena pans out and if Blanco continues to develop. I'm excited to see Blanco play this summer; he really impressed me last year in his time in the bigs.
Another one I'm pumped to watch in Omaha is Billy Butler. From the sound of things, his bat is beyond phenominal, and his Spring Training numbers show it. If his defense were (a lot) stronger, he'd be a major contributor in KC for sure, but as it stands, fans in Omaha will get a treat. Shameless plug time: The Omaha Royals' first home game is right around the corner! Come to Rosenblatt and watch them in action on Friday, April 13! I'll be there too!
Sports Illustrated writer hearts my writing
Check the comments section on my previous entry. For me, this was like having Jessica Alba say, "Hey, you're kind of attractive." SI is the pinnacle of sportswriting, and one of their people says my sportswriting is good? WOW.
Grudzy's speedy recovery -- a good thing? Or is he pushing too hard?
It hasn't even been a month since Gold Glove-winning second baseman Mark Grudzielanek had knee surgery, but he is cock-sure he will be in the starting lineup on Monday. While I'll be thrilled to see him in action, because I love the way he plays, I'm a little nervous that he might be pushing himself too hard. The reason he's rushing back is the same reason he's so fun to watch: He is hardheaded, driven, and will give everything he has to make every out possible. He claims he's recovering quickly -- no pain and no swelling, which are the only two factors he acknowledges in his rehab process -- and that he'll be ready to go. But is he really? I'm a little bit afraid that his stubbornness is leading him to push this hard, and he'll re-injure his knee later in the season, when the team needs him most of all in their quest to churn out a respectable season.
I'm unsure about starting Alex Gordon in The Show
It's a sure thing now; Alex Gordon (aka The Next Big Thing) will be the starting third baseman for the Royals on Monday. While I do love the guy -- what's not to love about a player who draws so many comparisons to KC's finest, George Brett? -- I'm not sure how I feel about him being called up to the majors so soon, or how I feel about Mark Teahen being displaced to make room for Gordon.
I love Mark Teahen. I think he's a great guy with great leadership abilities, and a hell of a glove at third. And, as he showed in the 2nd half last year, his bat has a bit of pop. A lot of players lose points in their batting average when they switch positions, so will the same thing happen to Teahen? He's athletic enough to handle pretty much any position, that's for sure, but there's still a whole different mindset.
And I am excited about Alex Gordon; don't get me wrong. If it weren't for Gordon, SI would have had zero positive things to say about the Royals in their baseball preview issue. Well, that, and he's kind of the future of the ballclub. But is the front office trying to rush the future? If so, at what cost will it come? Bringing players who aren't ready up to The Show is a dangerous game, and completely meritless. I'm not saying Gordon isn't ready, I'm just saying I don't want to take the chance that he isn't.
Who knows, though? We will find out soon enough. Maybe Teahen will be able to relax a little defensively, away from the perils of the Hot Corner, and will actually get better at the plate because of it. Maybe Gordon will flash more signs of Brett-esque brilliance and bring the club into playoff contention sooner than anyone thought possible. I suppose I'm too used to erring on the side of caution, but I will now retreat into a happy place, and repeat my mantra: "In Moore we trust."
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