KANSAS CITY -- Hot-ticket items in the Royals clubhouse on Friday were Bruce Chen T-shirts. They went fast because of (a) the price: free, and (b) the gag inscriptions.
The front read: "Domina-Chen." Get it? Domination.
On the back: "My Fastball" with a large number 83 followed by "By you."
Sure, Chen's fastball is a bit faster than 83 mph and does get by hitters, but his teammates loved the humor and the design by Jonathan Knoffer, student at the Kansas City Art Institute and son of team massage therapist Rick Knoffer.
Chen, well-known as the team's resident jokester as well as an 11-game winner, liked the design and had some T-shirts made up for some of the Royals staff as a token of appreciation.
"I ordered 20 for the trainers and everything, and I wanted to have some for my family. Then I gave one to [Joakim] Soria and he wore it yesterday and everybody wanted one," Chen said.
So the players swooped in, snared every shirt to wear under their jerseys, and the demand continues.
"Now I have to order more," Chen said.
Soria still bothered by strained hamstring
KANSAS CITY -- Closer Joakim Soria is still out with a strained right hamstring and the Royals aren't rushing him back into service.
He tested his leg on Friday afternoon in a throwing session.
"He felt it a little bit," manager Ned Yost said. "It'll be a couple more days."
Soria pulled his hamstring while delivering a pitch to Miguel Olivo on Sunday at Seattle just before nailing down his 28th save in a 2-1 win over the Mariners.
Teaford razzed by bullpen buddies
KANSAS CITY -- After spending most of the season in relief, left-hander Everett Teaford not only finds himself in the starting rotation but also the subject of lighthearted abuse from his bullpen buddies.
Teaford pitched five shutout innings in his first start at Seattle and earned two more starts, the next on Saturday against Chicago. Locker neighbors Blake Wood, Greg Holland and Louis Coleman were on his case. Wood wondered how much he'd really prepared for the White Sox.
"You think this just popped up on its own?" Teaford exclaimed, waving a hand-written sheet of information about the White Sox hitters.
"I'll bet 99 percent of what's written down is 'low and away,' " Holland chided.
Coleman peered over Teaford's shoulder and pretended to read.
"This guy's nitro is middle-middle, this guy's nitro is middle-middle. They all like it middle-middle," Coleman chirped.
"Coleman, I'm about to punch you in the stomach!" Teaford warned menacingly.
So it goes when a reliever joins the starting fraternity.
"He had to get a bigger hat, too, his head's getting bigger," Coleman smirked.
Teaford had to laugh. Nothing like fun at the ol' ballpark.
Odorizzi pleased with progress in 2011
KANSAS CITY -- Pitcher Jake Odorizzi joined 14 other Royals Minor League award winners in receiving their trophies on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium from Scott Sharp, director of Minor League operations.
Odorizzi, a 21-year-old right-hander from Highland, Ill., was the Pitcher of the Year for Double-A Northwest Arkansas despite spending just a half-season with the Naturals. He was 5-3 with a 4.72 ERA in 12 games for that team after going 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in 15 games for Class A Wilmington.
"It started off well, the team played pretty good, I was doing pretty well and felt good and everything. I just kept pitching and eventually they got me out of there on July 1 and came up to Double-A," Odorizzi said. "I was happy with that and hit a rough patch but figured it out at the end of the year. So I go into the offseason with a lot of confidence."
Odorizzi, obtained from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade, is seen as a fast mover by the Royals, and he did that in his first year in the organization. Next year, he might reach Triple-A Omaha and, if things go well, Kansas City, too.
"I'm glad I got to jump a level. I've never done that before this year and, hopefully, I can do the same thing next year -- wherever I may start or finish. I want to finish here sometime next year. That's all I'm going to work toward," he said.
Odorizzi throws four pitches, a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup, but at Northwest Arkansas initially he had trouble keeping his fastball down. He solved that with help from pitching coach Larry Carter.
"I finally started getting it down and it showed," he said. "Five inches lower and it's a ground ball, not a double."
For the two teams combined this year, Odorizzi had 157 strikeouts and 44 walks in 147 innings. Overall, he was 10-7 with a 3.73 ERA.
"I just want to work hard enough to get here," he said as he stood on the Kauffman Stadium turf. "That's all that matters."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.