07/02/12 10:55 PM ET
Bautista recalls pre-All-Star days with KC
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Three former Royals were elected in the fan vote to be starters in the All-Star Game. Who are they?
Most folks probably will immediately get Melky Cabrera, in Kansas City just last year and the National League's top finisher in outfield voting with a late push from Giants fans. And they'll surely get Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, a big Royals star early in his career. Beltran was second to Cabrera in the NL outfield.
But the third ex-Royal? Hmm.
Well, it was Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays' slugger who finished third in the American League outfield voting. Not many fans remember that Bautista was a Royal for a month during the 2004 season.
"Yeah, I was there a short period of time, but I remember it well. It's a nice city, a nice baseball-rich town, a lot of history. Not only with the Royals, but with the Negro Leagues and everything, so it's an area that's known for having good baseball played there," Bautista said. "So it's nice to see them having the All-Star Game and kind of bringing some of that magic back, because I know they haven't had it for a while."
That was a very strange rookie season for Bautista; he belonged to five different teams and played for four of them -- Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. The Royals purchased Bautista from the Devil Rays on June 28 and traded him to the New York Mets on July 30 for catcher Justin Huber. But Bautista never played for the Mets, because the same day they traded him back to the Pirates, the team that originally drafted him.
Bautista says he always looks forward to returning to Kansas City despite his brief stay.
"I enjoyed my time there. I had good teammates and had a good coaching staff. But sometimes in baseball decisions have to be made and I remember they weren't winning many games that year ... and [manager] Tony Pena was in the hot seat, so there was a lot going on. I didn't take it personally, but baseball moves have to be made. They had a hole at the position of catcher and they thought they were going to fill it with Huber, and I don't blame them for anything that happened with me," Bautista said.
" I felt like they treated me with respect and they always told me what was going on so I never felt like there was any backstabbing or secrecy to any of the things that were going on. I wish they could have given me more of a shot and I could've made a better impression, but I only had 25 at-bats and it's never enough for anybody to make a good impression."
Bautista, playing third base with Joe Randa injured, was 5-for-25 with one double and one RBI, hardly an indication of the home-run basher he became. So the Royals decided to deal him away.
"I was a Rule 5 pick out of [Class] A ball, so I didn't expect to come in and hit 20 home runs, but I don't think it had anything to do with the expectations they had of me, it was just maybe they felt they had other players in the positions that I played," Bautista said.
Now, eight years later, he's starting his second All-Star Game.
Butler doesn't get picked for Home Run Derby
TORONTO -- Royals All-Star Billy Butler would have welcomed a spot on the American League team for the 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby on July 9 at Kauffman Stadium, but he was passed over when the selections were announced Monday night.
Captain Robinson Cano of the Yankees will join Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Prince Fielder of the Tigers and Mark Trumbo of the Angels on the AL team.
"The guys that are going in there are very deserving," Butler said after Monday's 11-3 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener. "It's hard to argue with that. It would've been fun in our own ballpark but I'll enjoy watching those guys."
Butler witnessed Bautista belting his Major League-leading 27th home run on Monday night.
The Home Run Derby will commence at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Royals like Escobar hitting in No. 2 spot
TORONTO -- Shortstop Alcides Escobar's hitting has improved so impressively that he's being considered as a fixture for the No. 2 spot in the Royals' batting order. He was there on Monday night for the second straight game and for the seventh time this season.
"I try to look at our lineup now and at the end of the year; I try to look at our lineup next year and at the end of next year," manager Ned Yost said. "He fits perfectly as a No. 2 hitter. He can hit the ball the other way, he's our best situational hitter, he's our best bunter, he's got speed and he's taking walks. He's doing all the things you want a No. 2 hitter to do."
Escobar went into the series opener against the Blue Jays with a .310 average after batting .254 last year.
"Now it's time that we start at least trying to do it with the mindset of developing him as a No. 2 hitter in our lineup," Yost said.
Yost dropped Yuniesky Betancourt from second to fifth.
"Yuni's been our No. 1 run producer and the five-spot is a big run-producing spot, and especially in the last two or three weeks he's really driving in runs," Yost said.
Myers among Minor League stars in June
TORONTO -- Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers was leading all of baseball with 27 home runs after hitting his 14th for Triple-A Omaha on Sunday. Earlier, he had 13 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista matched Myers by belting his Major League-leading 27th homer in Monday's series opener against the Royals.
Myers also was Omaha's Player of the Month for June and veteran left-hander Doug Davis was named Pitcher of the Month. Other winners of those monthly awards for the Royals' affiliates:
Northwest Arkansas -- Infielder Rey Navarro, right-hander Michael Mariot.
Wilmington (High Class A) -- Outfielder Whit Merrifield, right-hander Yordano Ventura.
Kane County (Class A) -- Infielder Daniel Mateo, right-hander Robinson Yambati.
Idaho Falls (Rookie) -- Outfielder Ethan Chapman, right-hander Andrew Ferguson.
Burlington (Rookie) -- Infielder Patrick Leonard, right-hander Daniel Hernandez.
Surprise (Rookie) -- Infielder Diego Goris, left-hander Matt Tenuta.
Dominican (Rookie) -- Infielder Wander Franco, right-hander Miguel Almonte.
Pitching coach Dave Eiland rejoined the Royals after the death of his mother, June. He was called away by her illness last Saturday.
A scoring change in the June 26 game against the Rays gave the Royals' Alex Gordon a hit. Originally, shortstop Sean Rodriguez was charged with an error.
The Royals' records of 15-13 in May and 14-13 in June gave them consecutive winning months for the first time since 2007.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.