Fun, optimism fill Royals luncheon
New spirit prevails with team hoping to take step forward
KANSAS CITY -- After the gala re-opening of Kauffman Stadium and three games against the Yankees, the Royals were finally officially welcomed home Monday.
More than 700 fans attended the annual Welcome Home Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center, an event filled with optimism, witticism and not a hint of pessimism.
"For me, the camaraderie of the team is definitely different. We brought in a few different guys and they fit in real well with what we're trying to do here," said left fielder David DeJesus.
"A lot of guys have experience that we didn't have -- playoff experience and things like that. So I think we're on the rise."
One of those newcomers, center fielder Coco Crisp, gave his perspective.
"I think we have championship chemistry and, obviously, we have the talent, so both of those together we have the capability of making this a great season," he said.
Master of ceremonies Ryan Lefebvre and his foil, every positionman Mark Teahen, put some comedy in the proceedings. Lefebvre asked Teahen if DeJesus was considered the team's "heartthrob" with the ladies.
"I've been told numerous times, he's kind of a close second," Teahen said with no modesty at all. "The Euro mullet is really working."
An explanation is in order. The Euro mullet, aka Euro hawk or faux hawk, is a haircut, a sort of moderation of the old Mohawk. Anyway, several guys are sporting the cut including Crisp, Alex Gordon, Mike Aviles and John Buck in addition to Teahen.
"Give John Buck credit for having the first one," Teahen said, bidding for clubhouse harmony.
The fans also got a few other behind-the-scenes insights.
Crisp's favorite player growing up in Los Angeles was Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler. "He played the game hard, he loved to bunt and his speed reminded me of mine or what, hopefully, it could be," Crisp said.
New first baseman Mike Jacobs likes to stir up the team by pounding his bat on the bench before games. "Everybody wondered, 'What is he doing?' But now it's routine and on the bench, we get a little more fired up," Teahen said.
Pitcher Kyle Davies was garbed in a sweater and little tie for the "librarian look" in a winter benefit fashion show because he reads a lot of books and, according to Teahen, claims to be intelligent.
The crowd also was treated to film clips of highlights of the team's first 40 years, and alumni Marty Pattin, Kevin Seitzer, John Wathan, Joe Randa, John Mayberry, Paul Splittorff, Willie Wilson, Frank White and George Brett graced the stage.
Owner David Glass, club president Dan Glass, general manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman were introduced.
Oh, and Lefebvre brought up the question of whether Joakim Soria should remain a closer or become a starter. So he polled the audience.
"Who's in favor of closer?" Lefebvre asked. There was a huge roar of approval.
Apparently that settled it because he never did ask who was in favor of starter. Why risk a difference of opinion when everyone was feeling such togetherness?
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.