SEATTLE -- Along with revitalizing his career with 44 doubles, 17 home runs, 77 RBIs and 15 outfield assists, the Royals' Jeff Francoeur entered Friday with 20 stolen bases.
"It's brought a whole 'nother dynamic to my game," he said.
No kidding. His previous season high in the Majors was eight last year, all with the Mets. Even in the Minors, his best was 14 in 2003 with Class A Rome, Ga., when he was a frisky 19 years old.
"First of all, dropping 30 pounds helps, being able to run a little bit," Francoeur said. "But I give a lot of credit to Siss [baserunning coach Doug Sisson], too, because when I used to get on first base, that never-ever really came to my mind. Now when I get there, I'm more concentrated on the pitcher's moves, the times -- if I can get to second, things like that. The way I play, I should be able to get 20 steals."
It took him a while to get to 20. He reached 19 on Aug. 13, but didn't get his 20th until Tuesday at Oakland, 23 games later. Meantime, Francoeur had been thrown out five times, as many times as he'd been caught in accumulating the first 19 steals.
"For a while there, when I was stuck on 19, I picked a couple bad spots to go on," Francoeur said. "I think I was trying too hard to get to 20 instead of just letting it happen. Stealing bases can be like home runs -- sometimes you're going to get three or four in a week and then you don't get any in two weeks. It's one of those things where you've got to be smart. For a while, I got stupid there."
Francoeur got together with Sisson to get his approach "re-defined," as manager Ned Yost put it.
"He's an opportunistic base stealer. He's got to pick his spots, he can't just go," Yost said. "He got a little excited there for a while when he was trying to get 20 and now we've got him back on track."
Francoeur knows his limitations.
"I'm not Juan Pierre or Ichiro where I can get out there and steal on anybody," he said. "I've got to have the right situation."
The Royals, going into Friday night's game, were leading the American League with 136 stolen bases. The Padres led the Majors with 157.
The Royals had seven players with at least 10 steals: Alcides Escobar, 22; Chris Getz and Francoeur, 20 each; Melky Cabrera, 18; Alex Gordon, 15, and Eric Hosmer and since-departed Mike Aviles, 10 each. If Jarrod Dyson is recalled from Triple-A Omaha this month, he'll probably join that group; he has nine.
"We don't have any really true base stealers. Esky can steal a base, but we've got to pick our spots," Yost said. "When I set out at the beginning of the year to improve our baserunning, the last thing I expected to improve on was our base stealing. I wanted to improve on our turns, our secondary leads, going from first to third. But we've done a nice job of learning how and when to steal bases."
Duffy completes his run on the mound
SEATTLE -- Left-hander Danny Duffy's winter vacation officially starts on Sunday when either Everett Teaford or Nate Adcock starts in his place against the Mariners.
Duffy was shut down after his 20th Royals start because, including his time at Triple-A Omaha, he'd pitched 147 1/3 innings, and that was deemed enough for his rookie season.
His routine for the rest of the season will be to throw side sessions and work on improving the command of his pitches.
Any chance of his making a relief appearance?
"I wish, but no," Duffy said. "I think our bullpen has it under control. I'm chillin'. I'm not doing anything but cheering on the team and throwing some sides. Relax and rest, I guess. It's hard."
A dedicated runner, he'll be doing that every day.
But no relief outings, even in an emergency?
"Maybe, but I doubt it," manager Ned Yost said.
Annual Coat Drive to benefit Joplin residents
SEATTLE -- The Royals' last homestand of the season will start on Tuesday, and the annual Coat Drive will be part of it on Friday, Sept. 16, and Saturday, Sept. 17.
Left fielder Alex Gordon and his wife, Jamie, are leading the Royals' effort, which will benefit those residents of Joplin, Mo., that are in need as they continue to rebuild from the tornado which ripped through the community on May 22.
Royals Wives will collect new and gently-used coats of all sizes -- adults, boys, girls, toddlers and infants -- as well as winter accessories such as gloves, hats and scarves. The collection point will be outside the Diamond Club on the plaza level from 6 to 8 p.m. CT next Friday and 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday when the Royals play the White Sox.
As part of the Coat Drive, Royals Wives also will sell mystery bags that include a player-autographed baseball for a $20 donation and autographed player cards for a $10 donation. Click here for details.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.