KANSAS CITY -- Yuniesky Betancourt notched the 33rd steal of home in Royals history in the second inning of Sunday's 6-4 win over the Indians.
Betancourt was at third base when Mitch Maier was caught off first base by pitcher Josh Tomlin, who stepped off the rubber, faked a throw to third and ran toward the trapped Maier. Betancourt broke for home, interrupting the pitcher's pursuit, and beat the throw from Tomlin to catcher Chris Gimenez. The run broke a 3-3 tie.
Maier reached second safely, so the play went down as a double steal. No, it wasn't a pre-conceived play.
"Not this year, it's not," manager Ned Yost said. "It will be next year. We work on stuff like that in the spring. But this year, it wasn't. Yuni actually ran it to perfection."
Maier, who has green-light clearance to steal, just wanted to reach second base to give Mike Aviles a chance to drive in two runs. Maier stopped between the bases, drawing pursuit from Tomlin, and Betancourt timed his break to the plate perfectly.
"It wasn't planned to work out that way, but I'm glad it worked out," Maier said.
Next year, though, Yost will incorporate that type of play into the Royals' baserunning plans.
Indians manager Manny Acta noted that defending against such a play, while it's not seen that often, is a routine practice exercise for pitchers.
"Five million times in Spring Training," Acta said, "and 250,000 times during the season."
Betancourt's first steal of the season was also the Royals' first steal of home since Alex Gordon did it on Aug. 2, 2009, at Tampa Bay.
The theft should have brought back memories to Jon Nunnally, the Indians' hitting coach. Nunnally, while an outfielder with the Royals in 1995, stole home four times in similar fashion on a double steal.
That stands as the Royals club record, not only for a season, but for a career.
Aviles, Maier enjoy homer rivalry
KANSAS CITY -- Mike Aviles, with his booming home run in Saturday night's 6-4 loss to the Indians, had cracked four homers in his last five games entering Sunday. He'd had just two in his previous 90 games.
What's going on here?
Mitch Maier, who lockers next to Aviles in the Royals' clubhouse, had an answer.
"He asked me when I was going to catch him in the home run department," Aviles explained.
"Usually we have a little battle between us and he was slacking so I just had to light a fire," Maier said.
"Yeah, right," Aviles said.
Let's see, Maier has five homers. Aviles has jumped to six.
"He passed me in a matter of days," Maier said.
Is there a wager on this?
"Naw, just bragging rights," Aviles said. "The same bragging rights I've been having for the last seven years."
"It is true," Maier conceded. "I'll give it to him. But I inspire him."
It seems that the two players, who both signed after being taken in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, have been having their own home run derby ever since. Some years Aviles won, some years Maier won. Their overall Minor League figures are close, Maier holds a 63-62 edge. In the Majors, at least before Sunday's game, Aviles was ahead, 17-8.
Aviles, tired of making concessions to his surgically repaired elbow, decided last week to resume swinging with his old abandon. It's worked marvelously. In addition to the four home runs, he's hit .619 (13-for-21) in those five games to boost his average from .289 to .308.
And now he's ahead of Maier in home runs. Maybe Maier is onto something.
Yost: Kendall feeling well after surgery
KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Jason Kendall, who underwent extensive right shoulder surgery on Sept. 3 in Los Angeles, has returned to the Royals' domain, but he's been invisible to reporters.
So manager Ned Yost, who doubles as medical spokesman for the club, was asked how Kendall was doing.
"He's doing pretty good," Yost said. "He was all locked up in that sling where he couldn't move it and went to the doctor out in California on Wednesday and had his first checkup there. He's going great. He's starting to do some minor rehab stuff and everything is going along good."
Yost has been optimistic about Kendall getting back in the catcher's harness by Spring Training, although the 8-to-12-month recovery prognosis obviously goes beyond that.
"He has no pain," Yost said. "He said they lifted his arm up and it felt better than it did when it was operated on. Everything's right on schedule or maybe a little ahead of schedule."
Royals' Getz, Texeira closer to returning
KANSAS CITY -- Royals second baseman Chris Getz, out for a week because of a concussion, might be close to getting back on the field.
"Getz is going to go to Stage 2 today where he'll go outdoors and run. He passed all his tests yesterday," manager Ned Yost said.
Running without the resulting "fogginess" that has plagued Getz would be a favorable sign.
"If he passes that test, he should be able to play in a day or so," Yost said.
Getz will accompany the Royals on their trip to Detroit, as will disabled relief pitcher Kanekoa Texeira.
Texeira said he'd pitch in a simulated game on Monday at Comerica Park and hopes to return to the bullpen after that. He's been out for more than a month with a strained right elbow and is itchy for action.
"It's driving me crazy," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.