The MLB Playoffs are underway and, for the seventh straight year, the KC Royals find themselves mere spectators, the consequence of barely escaping a 100-loss season and finishing last in the American League Central.
Playing in the postseason, however, are a few familiar former Royals. Unfortunately, none enjoyed outstanding games as the playoffs kicked off Friday.
Most successful was Whit Merrifield who, via a last-minute trade deadline deal, surprisingly ended up in Toronto after his unvaccinated status prohibited him (and nine other Royals) from travelling to Canada for a mid-July series with the Blue Jays. Merrifield, batting ninth Friday against Seattle, managed a single in three at-bats as the Jays lost to the Mariners 4-0 in an American League Wild Card game.
On the winning end of the contest was former Royal Carlos Santana, whose late June trade to Seattle finally opened the door to Kauffman Stadium for Vinnie Pasquantino. But although the M’s won to take a one-game lead in the best-of-three series, Santana went 0-for-4 and struck out twice.
San Diego’s Wil Myers went hitless in four at-bats in the Padres’ surprisingly easy 7-1 victory over the Mets in the opening game of the National League Wild Card series. Myers, a highly-touted Kansas City prospect at the time, figured prominently in the December 2012 mega-trade with Tampa Bay that brought James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.
The Mets put ex-Royal pinch runner extraordinaire Terrance Gore on their Wild Card roster, but he didn’t see action Friday.
Will another club beat the KC Royals to managerial candidate Pedro Grifol?
At the same Thursday meeting with the press during which he revealed current Kansas City coach Pedro Grifol is in the running to replace recently-dismissed manager Mike Matheny, club Executive Vice President and General Manager J.J. Picollo suggested his search for a new skipper will be deliberate; per MLB.com KC beat writer Anne Rogers:
Precisely what “take our time” means remains to be seen. But could the process be too slow to land Grifol if he’s who the Royals want?
Perhaps. Other clubs have included Grifol in past searches, and ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reported Friday (Twitter link) that the veteran KC coach will also interview with AL Central Division rival Chicago, to whom Tony La Russa will not return, and the Marlins, who parted ways with Don Mattingly. Should either club offer their job to Grifol before the Royals decide whether he’s their man, a big league skipper’s job in the hand might be too much for Grifol to pass up.
A KC Royals infielder will play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
The United States’ 2023 World Baseball Classic team will include a Kansas City player. Bobby Witt Jr. has been named to the club.
And he seems quite happy with the situation:
Witt made his first major league appearance Opening Day, stuck with the Royals all season, and finished with 20 home runs, 80 RBIs, 30 steals, 31 doubles and a .254/.294/.428 line.
The Classic will be held next March.
KC Royals reliever Richard Lovelady seems to be ready for the 2023 season.
Until 2021, Richard Lovelady struggled to become in the majors the successful reliever he’d been in Kansas City’s minor league system. Pitching 25 times for the Royals in 2019, he was 0-3 with a distressing 7.65 ERA, then made it into only one game in the short 2020 campaign before KC sent him to its Alternate Training Site. The club called him back up with a few games left but he didn’t pitch again.
Last year, however, was different. Much different. The Royals recalled him from Triple-A Omaha in late June and he went 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA, a save, a 1.065 WHIP, a 10.02 K/9 and 2.61 BB/9 through late August.
But Lovelady didn’t pitch in September or October—he suffered a left UCL strain and later had Tommy John Surgery.
Fortunately, the lefthander made it back this season and pitched four times—once for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and three times for Triple-A Omaha—and didn’t give up a run in four innings. He also struck out nine, walked only one, and surrendered just one hit.
Whether he’ll return to the organization is an open question: he’s eligible to be taken in this winter’s Rule 5 Draft unless Kansas City includes him on its 40-man roster.
In any event, Lovelady appears ready:
The season is over for Kansas City, but stay tuned. The club will still be making news.