6/24/2014 8:02 P.M. ET
Gordon's defense deserving of All-Star attention
By Dick Kaegel and Jackson Alexander / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- With just more than a week remaining until All-Star voting ends, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon remains on the outside looking in.
His name did not show up in the latest American League ballot update, as fans touted 15 other outfielders ahead of Gordon. Voting ends July 3 at 10:59 p.m. CT.
Gordon is tied for third among position players in WAR (4.2) this season, according to Fangraphs.com.
He brought a .287/.365/.459 slash line into Tuesday's game against the Dodgers, but much of his value derives from his spectacular defense in left field.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Chen activated, Collins down, Joseph designated
KANSAS CITY -- Left-handed pitcher Bruce Chen was in and two other left-handers, Tim Collins and Donnie Joseph, were out as the Royals made roster moves on Tuesday.
Collins was optioned to Triple-A Omaha. A big part of the bullpen in the previous three years, he had struggled often this season. He was 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA and had given up 17 hits and 10 walks in 17 1/3 innings.
Joseph, ranked No. 13 among the Royals' top prospects, was designated for assignment because the Royals had to make room on the 40-man roster for Chen. He's been in and out of Kansas City briefly the last two years and was last optioned to Omaha a week ago.
Taking a bullpen role is nothing new for Chen, 37, who has done it all in his in 16 big league years. Just last year, he started the season in relief and later shifted to the rotation. In fact, of his 389 games, 222 have been starts and 167 have come in relief.
Not being able to pitch for the last two months has been frustrating for Chen.
"You can't do anything and then you see your teammates go out there and have a 10-game winning streak and you're very happy because you know how hard they've worked," Chen said. "Right now, I feel like we're in a good position and I want to go out and help this team win in any way I can."
Chen has kept busy with treatments, Minor League rehab assignments, cheerleading from the bench, even acting as Yordano Ventura's translator. But he wants to be part of the game action.
"I've been here in Kansas City for the last six years and last year was very exciting and this year we're making it very exciting and the fans are coming," he said.
For Collins, the demotion to Triple-A is his first in four years with the Royals. Acquired in a 2010 trade from Atlanta, the little lefty became a relief regular in 2011 and made 68, 72 and 66 appearances in the next three years. In 2013, he had a rough time from May 1 through the All-Star break but rebounded with a 1.35 ERA in the second half.
Collins missed nearly a month early this season with a left flexor strain and never did really hit his stride. A highlight was three shutout innings in a bullpen-depleting blowout loss at Toronto on May 31.
Like right-hander Louis Coleman, also dispatched to Omaha to make adjustments, Collins was given an area on which to work.
"Secondary pitches," manager Ned Yost said. "When he's right, command of his fastball has been OK and he would get guys out with his secondary pitches -- curveball, throwing it for strikes; changeup, throwing it for strikes. Changeups to righties, curves to lefties."
Collins had been throwing too many fastballs, not enough of those changeups and curves.
"He needs to go back and get comfortable and confident in throwing his secondary pitches for strikes," Yost said.
"This bullpen was built with, of course, [Greg] Holland and [Wade] Davis at the back end. But it's really important that we have [Aaron] Crow, [Kelvin] Herrera, Collins and Coleman as an integral part of it."
Collins' departure leaves Chen and Francisley Bueno as the lefties in the bullpen. Bueno has a 1.59 ERA in seven games.
"He's been throwing good. He's a guy that's been on the attack and throwing strikes with his pitches, and that's what we've been looking for," Yost said.
The Royals have 10 days to decide Joseph's fate, but if he makes it through waivers, a return to the Royals' system is possible.
"I think Donnie still has a chance to be a real effective situational lefty, but he, like everybody else, has got to throw strikes especially at the big league level," Yost said. "I've got to know what I'm getting on most nights when I'm calling somebody in from the 'pen. I can't hope."
Class A righty Binford picked for Futures Game
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Christian Binford was named Tuesday to represent the Royals at the SiriusXM Futures All-Star Game, which will be played on Sunday, July 13, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Binford, a starter with Class A Advanced Wilmington, will compete on the U.S. team in the 16th edition of this Minor League exhibition on All-Star Sunday.
Binford, the Royals' 30th-round selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft has a 2.35 ERA in 76 2/3 innings (13 starts) and 85 strikeouts this season.
"He's a wonderful kid, he really works hard, he's intelligent," assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. "He's not like some guys that have kind of been anointed as a top prospect. He's worked his way into that type of status."
Binford fell so low in the Draft because he underwent Tommy John surgery in high school. But his three seasons in pro ball have proved that the injury is behind him. In 251 2/3 innings he holds a 2.47 ERA, a 1.097 WHIP and 246 strikeouts.
"Christian has really not missed a beat once he was 100 percent healthy and far enough out of Tommy John," Picollo said.
Recent Royals prospects on Futures Games rosters include Miguel Almonte (2013), and Yordano Ventura (2013, 2012) from the World team, and Wil Myers (2012) and Jake Odorizzi (2012) with the U.S.
But Binford differs from Ventura and Myers particularly in that he's yet to earn the label of a can't-miss prospect.
He's ranked No. 11 among the Royals' top prospects.
"He's not going to make a jump off of the one inning he'll probably throw," Picollo said. "But being on that stage, with a lot of scouts there, he's going to be viewed in the industry as a different type of prospect."
Binford's ascension this season has raised the question of a promotion, which Picollo said could be coming soon.
"It's being talked about ... It's not something we feel like we have to do tomorrow, there's nothing wrong with him continuing to pitch where he's at," Picollo said. "But it certainly is a topic of discussion here in the last seven days now it's just a matter of time of picking the right time to do it."
The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will take place at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, July 13, at Target Field in Minneapolis, and it can be seen live on MLB.com and MLB Network, and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89 and Sirius channel 209. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send and receive tweets to and from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25-man rosters for each club. Each Major League organization is represented, and players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.
Two Twins greats will be managing the squads. Longtime manager Tom Kelly will be in the U.S. dugout, while Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven will take the helm of the World Team. The U.S. Team, which has won each of the last four contests, leads the all-time series, 9-6.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.