4/8/2013 10:30 P.M. ET
Royals hoping there's no place like home
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Home, the Royals are convinced, certainly will be sweeter this April than it was in 2012. Last year they came to Kauffman Stadium after splitting six road games and lost 10 straight home games.
They're thinking more in terms of plentiful victories.
"That's what we have planned," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "This is the first [chance] for your fans to see how you look for the season, and I think it's big for us to put up some wins at home. We can get these fans excited and make it a tough atmosphere for opposing teams to come in."
The first homestand includes three games against Minnesota and three against Toronto.
"We want to come in and put on a good show for our fans," manager Ned Yost said. "We don't want what happened last year to happen again this year. ... We definitely don't want to come home 3-3 like we did last year and go on a losing streak. We want to come home 3-3 and get on a winning streak."
The Royals this year provided the home-opener competition on their trip, losing at Chicago but winning at Philadelphia.
"On the road it's exciting, because you want to be the one to spoil the party a little bit. Being through two already, we want to put on the party," Hosmer said.
This year's party features Tate Stevens, a country singer from Belton, Mo., who won the "X Factor" competition in 2012.
"This is the first time in my career that I've had two openers on the road and then came home for one," designated hitter Billy Butler said. "This is definitely the most Opening Days I've had in one year. It'll be fun. We've got Tate singing the national anthem. It'll be great, man, packed house."
The home opener has special meaning for center fielder Lorenzo Cain and catcher Salvador Perez, both of whom missed last year's game because of injuries.
"I can't be more excited. I felt we had real good series against Chicago and the Phillies. We played really well," Cain said.
For all of the Royals, arriving in Kansas City meant the end of a stretch that included two months of Spring Training and a 10-day road trip.
"It's good to be back in Kansas City and get kind of settled in with all our housing arrangements and back in our own clubhouse and into our home routine," second baseman Chris Getz said.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur thinks that the first road trip gave the Royals some stern tests -- hitting struggles in Chicago and some late-inning crises in Philadelphia, capped by Sunday's narrow escape.
"That's good. It tests you," Francoeur said. "It could have been a tough plane ride home, but instead it turned out to be nice. A win's a win."
That victory, Francoeur said, ensured a lively, optimistic pregame atmosphere in the clubhouse and in the stands.
"I think the fans are excited, and for good reason, because we do have a good baseball team," he said.
Yost sticking with Holland as his closer
KANSAS CITY -- Welcome home, Ned Yost, nice weather, it looks like a great day for your Royals and oh, yeah, are you going to change your closer?
It didn't take long for that question to be directed at the Royals' manager before the home opener on Monday, against the Twins. Greg Holland, after all, had been bumped around in the last two games at Philadelphia.
"Holland's our closer," Yost said.
Holland blew Saturday night's game after walking the first three batters and got himself into another fix on Sunday. Fortunately, Kelvin Herrera was able to snare the save in a 9-8 heart-stopper.
So in his first three appearances, Holland was charged with four runs on four hits and four walks in two innings. In his lone save, at Chicago, he had to wiggle out of a self-inflicted two-on jam.
"He's just been kind of a slow starter -- he was last year, too," Yost said. "Once he gets his feet underneath him, he's lights out. We'll adjust it out."
Early last year Holland had to overcome an ailment in his rib cage that put him on the disabled list. After coming off the DL on May 11, he posted a 2.08 ERA and took over the closer's role in late July, with great success.
"His stuff's really good, he's just missing off the plate. His command is pretty good, but he's just off an inch or two," Yost said. "And you're not going to be a successful closer by throwing a fastball down the middle. You've got to work the thirds of the plate, and he does that really well."
On Sunday, Yost turned to Herrera, who gave up a run-scoring single to Laynce Nix and then struck out Erik Kratz to end the game.
"Things started to unravel, and I just couldn't let it happen again," Yost said. "And I liked the matchup with [Herrera's] changeup against Nix, who can take you out of the park."
For Monday's game, Yost faced a quandary -- would he use Herrera and/or Holland for a third straight day?
The answer was no.
Yost brought in Aaron Crow to close out Monday's 3-1 victory over the Twins after starter Ervin Santana pitched eight innings.
"The decision was easy. Holland and Herrera were unavailable. I wasn't going to throw them today. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but Santana took care of that," Yost said. "It's just too early to pitch these guys three days in a row."
Awards, remembrances during home opener ceremony
KANSAS CITY -- On April 10, 1973, left-hander Paul Splittorff threw the first pitch in the new Royals Stadium. He went the distance in a 12-1 victory over the Rangers.
Splittorff, a Royals Hall of Famer who died in 2011, was represented by his family -- including his wife, Lynn -- as the 40th anniversary season of the stadium, now known as Kauffman, began on Monday, against the Twins.
Splittorff's son, Jamie, threw a ceremonial first pitch -- a right-handed strike -- to John Mayberry, who hit the first home run in the stadium.
The Splittorff family was surrounded by Royals and Twins players plus a gathering of 27 ex-Royals players and staff, including Mayberry and fellow Hall members Dennis Leonard, Fred Patek, Willie Wilson, Jeff Montgomery and George Brett.
Another first pitch was delivered by Steve Pack, who has been a season-ticket holder since the franchise began play in 1969.
Ceremonies also included the unfurling of a field-covering U.S. flag, the release of blue-and-white balloons and a video of stadium highlights from the past 40 years.
Also prior to the game, Billy Butler received his Silver Slugger Award from Brett, and Alex Gordon received his Gold Glove Award from Rawlings.
Dyson questions call on steal attempt
KANSAS CITY -- There was a downside to the three-run rally that gave the Royals a 3-1 victory over the Twins on Monday.
Jarrod Dyson, pinch-running for Billy Butler in the decisive eighth inning, tried to steal second base but was called out by umpire Brian O'Nora. Dyson thought he slid through the tag attempt by shortstop Pedro Florimon.
"Safe," Dyson said. "He dropped a leg on me, and I was going in feet-first no matter what. Unfortunately, he got the worst end of it, even though I got called out."
Florimon admitted that he was hurting a bit but that it was worth the pain for the out.
Manager Ned Yost questioned O'Nora about the call but seemed more interested in getting Dyson away from the umpire.
• The Royals have yet to make a fielding error this season, the first time in club history they've done that in the first seven games of a season.
• This was the Royals' first victory in a home opener since 2008, when they beat the Yankees. They're 22-23 overall.
• In 42 innings pitched, Royals starters have amassed 47 strikeouts against just six walks.
• Joe Mauer's 2-for-4 performance gave the Twins' catcher a career average of .354 against Kansas City.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.