2/1/2014 6:39 P.M. ET
Record turnout for Royals FanFest
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- The weather didn't exactly cooperate, but the first Royals FanFest to be held at Bartle Hall in the downtown Kansas City Convention Center was deemed a success.
As the two-day event ended on Saturday night, Royals vice president Toby Cook said total attendance was 11,032, the highest turnout for any Royals FanFest. That included about 3,000 on Friday when snow and slippery streets plagued the area.
As the two-day event headed into its final hours on Saturday, Royals vice president Toby Cook estimated total attendance at about 10,000. That included about 3,000 on Friday, when snow and slippery streets plagued the area.
"We wanted to be in the 12,000 to 15,000 range, but I think the weather hurt us a little bit yesterday and maybe a little bit today," Cook said on Saturday. "It was great to be in a larger venue. Even when it was full, people had elbow room and people liked the fact that there weren't long lines for the interactive games."
Winter weather elsewhere delayed some players traveling to Kansas City, but only one, shortstop Alcides Escobar, couldn't make it because of plane problems. Manager Ned Yost planned to arrive on Wednesday, but flight cancellations in Atlanta kept him away until Friday afternoon.
The five previous FanFests were held at the Overland Park Convention Center on the Kansas side of the metro area.
On different stage, Perez maintains ability to entertain
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' three 2013 American League Gold Glove winners -- catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer and left fielder Alex Gordon -- took over the main stage for a while Saturday at the Royals FanFest.
Though he is of deep-voiced few words, Perez nonetheless knows how to bring laughs and cheers from a crowd.
Broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre looked at Perez and said: "Sal, somebody told me during FanFest that you could be even better. Is that possible?"
Slight pause. "Yes," intoned Perez. Laughter.
Who was Perez's biggest influence in becoming such a good catcher?
"I'll start with my mom," Perez said. "Seriously, everything that's happened to me in baseball, I want to give it to my mom. She is my love and will be all my life."
Perez did go on to give credit to several coaches, but there is no doubt he holds his mother, Yilda, who was back in Venezuela, in high regard.
Lefebvre asked Perez if his mother was with him when he learned he had won his first Gold Glove.
"Yes, she cried," Perez said with a big smile. "She made me cry, too."
The house loved it.
Butler at home with new neighbors in lineup
KANSAS CITY -- Designated hitter Billy Butler is looking forward to swinging behind the new top-of-the-lineup trio of Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer.
"It'll be fun; I look forward to being sandwiched in there and us driving in a lot of runs," Butler said at the Royals' FanFest. "The pitching was the talk of last year, and they should have been -- they were at the top of baseball in a lot of categories. That's the reason we were 10 games over .500. So we're looking at taking the next step offensively."
Behind Butler in manager Ned Yost's projected lineup will be Alex Gordon, who spent a lot of time in the leadoff role in recent years. Now, he is slotted fifth.
"Gordo is a middle-of-the-order bat. He drives the ball, he drives in runs; he'll hit home runs with guys on base. What was he, first in franchise history with leadoff homers?" Butler said, referring to Gordon's 13 game-starting blasts. "We'd like to have those with runners on base, and he'll have the opportunity where he's at in the lineup now."
Gordon said he enjoyed his time at leadoff, the spot he has filled most often in his career (293 games with a .285 average, 40 homers and 152 RBIs).
"If you'd ask me where I'd rather hit, it'd be the three-hole, but obviously we have a three-hole hitter [Hosmer] right now," Gordon said. "I think Ned will work with some things in Spring Training, and we'll go from there. But wherever he slots me, it really doesn't matter."
Gordon has hit third in 185 games, tallying a .275 average, 21 homers and 100 RBIs. He has batted fifth just 75 times, with a .264 mark.
Shields willing to consider staying in KC
KANSAS CITY -- Yes, James Shields is headed for free agency after next season. And, yes, he'd be willing to discuss extending his Kansas City stay.
But, no, Shields is not really heading for the open market looking for a Zack Greinke-type contract -- six years at $147 million -- as one columnist speculated. In fact, the whole idea made Shields smile, as he attended the annual Royals FanFest at Bartle Hall downtown.
"That's absolutely not true at all. I have no clue where [the columnist] got that at all," Shields said.
"As a player, you always just want a fair deal -- but I'm not really thinking about that, right now. I've got one more year before I can be a free agent, and I'll probably be thinking more along those lines when the season is over."
Even so, the idea of discussing a contract extension with the Royals this winter is not beyond his scope.
"Yeah, I'd definitely be open-minded to it, for sure," he said. "A player in my position, when I have one more year left before free agency, I'm definitely open to it. I mean, I like Kansas City, I like the organization and I like the direction we're going."
But Shields hasn't discussed the matter so far with general manager Dayton Moore and, if they don't get around to it before Opening Day, it's not likely to happen in season.
"During the season, my main focus is trying to win games and really get some wins for this team," Shields said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.