Quintero, Bourgeois plan to seize chances
Catcher, left fielder impress Yost in first game with Royals
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A land of opportunity. That's how catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois view Kansas City.
The newest Royals moved into the clubhouse at Surprise, Ariz., on Thursday and then took a bus with their teammates, a split-squad aggregation, to take on the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Both of them were in the starting lineup in the Royals' 16-4 loss.
Quintero caught five innings and was 1-for-2 with a single up the middle. Bourgeois started in left field and went 1-for-3. After reaching base on a fielder's choice in the second inning, Bourgeois flashed his speed by stealing second base on the first pitch.
"I thought they both swung the bat really well," manager Ned Yost said. "Quintero did a nice job behind the plate and Jason did a good job in left field. Jason's speed was everything it was advertised."
The White Sox's Alejandro De Aza immediately tested Quintero's arm as he stole second base and then third in the first inning.
"Quintero made a real nice throw to second base from his knees, and it was a pretty acrobatic tag at second base and I think he actually got him," Yost said.
The trade that brought them from the Astros, who got Minor League pitcher Kevin Chapman and a player to be named, was triggered by starting catcher Salvador Perez's knee injury and surgery that's expected to keep him out about half the season. With No. 3 catcher Manny Pina also out with knee surgery, the Royals wanted an experienced Major League catcher to go with backup Brayan Pena.
Enter Quintero, 32, whose credentials with Houston include a howitzer arm, a knack for calling games and good defense and, oh yes, a .234 average. He's been a part-time player, catching a career-high 87 games two years ago. But he'd become a fixture in Houston, spending seven years or parts thereof with the Astros.
"That's baseball. I've lived in Houston for a long time," he said. "But I got traded before by the White Sox to the Padres and to the Astros. It's a business and I think I'm going to get more opportunity to play here, and I'm happy."
Yost will have to decide how he's going to divide the catching time between Pena and Quintero, but it might resemble last year's scenario. As it turned out in 2011, Pena started 57 games at catcher and Matt Treanor started 62 times until an injury stopped him at the end of July. Ten days later, Perez arrived to take over the job.
Quintero knows right-hander Felipe Paulino from their three years together with the Astros, but most of the Royals' pitchers are unfamiliar to him.
"The day I got traded, I got on my computer and got all the pictures from last year and I watched the videos to see what is their best pitch and everything," Quintero said.
He's also studying reports on the Royals' pitchers from the last two years.
Quintero, like Perez and Pina, is from Venezuela. (Pena is from Cuba).
"I feel bad for Perez. He's a good friend of mine, but that's baseball. I talked to him a couple of minutes ago and he's going to be working hard to come back and help the team," Quintero said.
Although he was reported to have been troubled by a bulging disk this spring, Quintero said the problem really was his right hip.
"People say it's my back, but it's my hip. But I feel 100 percent and I'm ready," he said.
Bourgeois, 30, arrives to add competition for the reserve outfielder role, or roles, where Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson have been the primary combatants. Both are left-handed hitters, with Maier proving to be a solid backup for the last three years and Dyson possessing burning speed on the bases and afield.
The Royals see Bourgeois as a possible right-handed hitter off the bench, a base-stealing threat and a defensive plug at all three outfield spots.
"Another great opportunity, I'd say," Bourgeois said. "This is my seventh organization. You know what, I'm happy for the guys I played with getting an opportunity over there in Houston, but right now somebody else wants me and I'm glad to be part of it."
Bourgeois, 30, played for the Texas, Atlanta, Seattle, White Sox, Milwaukee and Houston organizations before KC. Houston is his hometown, so it was a bit tough to leave.
"It is, in a sense," he said. "I know the game, though, I know it's a business and that the front-office people are trying to put the best product on the field. ... I'm happy, I'm grateful. That's all I can say."
The stolen base is a Bourgeois weapon. He had 31 in 37 attempts last year for the Astros in 93 games while batting .294.
"Davey Lopes helped me out coming up," Bourgeois said, referring to the longtime base-stealing star. "I had a chance one offseason to work with him. It's the mindset in base-stealing and baserunning itself, so I'm aggressive and everybody in the ballpark knows I'm probably going to go, but I have to be smart about in my times and my reads off pitchers. So I take all those things into consideration and put it in the game."
In 192 big league games, his average is .262 and in 12 Minor League seasons, he hit .283. He has little power.
"I've been feeling comfortable the last couple of years, I'm really finding my game, really finding my swing and trusting my approach," Bourgeois said. "I'm a guy that's trying to table-set for the guys behind me and trying to get into scoring position. I know my role and that's my game plan."
He likes the challenge of covering a big outfield like that in Kauffman Stadium.
"I love that open field. ... If it's hanging up there, I'm going to go get it," 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.