Notes: Grudzielanek returning for 2008
Royals, second baseman mutually agree on option year
CHICAGO -- On Monday night, the Royals' lineup card showed Mark Grudzielanek at second base and batting third. His average was .306. Since coming off the disabled list on July 6, he was hitting .370. He's the reigning Gold Glove winner at his position.
Pretty good guy to have around.
That's why the Royals announced on Monday night that Grudzielanek will be back for the 2008 season. He and the Royals mutually agreed to guarantee the $4.5 million player option in his current contract.
"We've got a lot of kids here -- young, and they keep me young," Grudzielanek said before Monday night's game against the White Sox.
"So definitely I'd like to see myself back here and playing, and, with a much better team, making a run at this thing."
Grudzielanek's agents had been discussing a new contract with Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore and his staff. Dean Taylor, the Royals' vice president baseball operations and assistant general manager, joined the Royals in Chicago to iron out final details with Grudzielanek.
"It's one of those things where any player wants to be wanted," Grudzielanek said. "If you fit in somewhere, you want to stay. The grass isn't greener on the other side always.
"We've made huge strides this year and we've gotten much better, and with Dayton and the ownership willing to spend more money, we're going to continue to get better."
Signed as a free agent before the 2006 season, Grudzielanek batted .297, drove in 52 runs, made just four errors and won his first Gold Glove last year.
A groin strain ended his season on Sept. 19, and during Spring Training he underwent knee surgery. However, Grudzielanek was ready for Opening Day. He cracked three hits and had three RBIs. The same left knee gave him problems again, and the veteran had a second surgery on June 14, but he missed just three weeks.
After both surgeries, Grudzielanek rebounded quickly.
"That's important. I'm starting to feel better running-wise, and I think next year I'll be better with that and come in and run, as I have in the past, and steal some bases," he said. "Not like before, but to be able to be aggressive not only offensively but defensively.
"This year has been a grind out there because of those knee surgeries, but I think I've held up pretty good and contributed offensively and defensively. Obviously not to 100 percent -- it takes time to come back from two of them, but by Spring Training, I think I will be to that point where I was a year ago."
No second baseman has emerged in the Royals organization as an heir apparent to Grudzielanek. Although Esteban German has done well as a fill-in at second, Moore indicated the Royals wanted to keep using German as a multi-position player.
"We're delighted that Mark has signed for 2008," Moore said. "He's been a very impactful part of our baseball team and good for our current direction."
This was almost déjà vu.
It was almost exactly a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2006, also in Chicago, that a rumor swept through the ballpark that the Royals had traded Grudzielanek to the Tigers.
Not true. In fact, before the night was over, the Royals announced that Grudzielanek had signed a new deal reportedly worth $4 million for 2007 with a player's option for 2008.
Obviously, Grudzielanek liked the option of coming back.
"I think it's a good fit," he said.
Teahen out again: Right fielder Mark Teahen was out of the starting lineup on Monday for the second straight day.
On Sunday at Oakland, he had a scheduled day off. On Monday night at Chicago, he was officially out because of his hyperextended left elbow.
"I wanted to play him today, but he needs to get it stretched out," manager Buddy Bell said. "He'll be able to play [Tuesday night]."
Teahen was injured Saturday night when he dove for a triple hit by the A's Jeff DaVanon.
Odd stats fact: According to Elias Sports Bureau and STATS, LLC, Jason Smith's odd statistic of socking 14 of his first 15 Major League home runs on the road has been done just once before. Or at least since 1957, which is as far back as the figure filberts could go.
The other player to have recorded 14 of his first 15 homers on the road is Casey Blake of the Indians.
Smith, of course, has been on the road with several teams -- the Cubs, the Devil Rays, the Tigers and the Rockies, in addition to the Royals.
Royals rundown: Triple-A Omaha hit five home runs on Sunday, but so did Albuquerque, an 11-8 winner in Sunday's slugfest. For the O-Royals, Shane Costa had two solo homers, while Justin Huber, Mitch Maier and Chris Lubanski also connected. ... Jason Shiell, Justin Barnes and Jason Cromer combined on a two-hit, 5-1 victory for Double-A Wichita over Frisco. ... Rowdy Hardy retired all nine Lynchburg batters he faced, then rain suspended Class A Wilmington's game after 2 1/2 innings. ... Blake Wood pitched a no-hitter for eight innings for Class A Burlington (Iowa), then he was replaced by Ray DiPietro. DiPietro allowed two runs, and visiting Quad Cities won, 2-1. Wood, a third-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, walked two and struck out five. He has a 1-1 record and a 3.52 ERA in six games. ... Clint Robinson had two RBIs and leads the Pioneer League with 48, but Rookie Idaho Falls lost to Great Falls, 12-3.
Coming up: The Royals will meet the White Sox in the second of three games at 7:11 p.m. CT on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. In a matchup of right-handers, Kansas City will start Leo Nunez against Chicago's Javier Vazquez.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.