The Kansas City Royals finally lost a game -- a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Twins -- and it comes on the heels of losing one of their key offseason additions for an extended period.
Alex Rios suffered a broken pinky finger when J.R. Graham plunked him on Monday, and he went on the disabled list before Wednesday's game. The Royals have been increasingly irked by their league-leading total of HBPs, and not just with Jeff Samardzija purpose pitches, but Rios and GM Dayton Moore offered interesting alternative explanations for the incidents beyond "we celebrate too much."
Moore thinks it's a byproduct of pitchers' attempts to slow down the running game:
"I think teams are trying to pitch us inside," Moore said. "There’s a lot of slide-stepping going on. A lot of guys are using the slide-step to try to control the running game. When that happens, pitchers tend to miss arm side.
"I don’t think anybody is necessarily throwing at us intentionally. They’re just trying to make pitches. It’s just one of those deals right now."
But Rios says that his HBP could have been avoided by a more credible pitcher. Graham is a Rule 5 pick who is trying to stick in the majors, and Rios transferred the blame from Graham to the Twins organization:
"It’s very frustrating when you get inexperienced pitchers coming to the mound and showing a lot of energy, and not being able to control their emotions. [....] I think that’s a recipe for disaster, when you have guys like that, high-energy guys without being able to control their emotions. Then you put them in high-pressure situations, and they just don’t know what to do, I guess. Things like this happen."
"So it’s very frustrating. They have to understand if somebody is ready to be in these kind of situations, or even here."
He added, "You have to understand who is ready to play in the game, to call up, to have in the big leagues. But like I said, you should be able to control your emotions and to have control of the situation."
The White Sox have suffered their share of hand injuries from underqualified relievers, so that kind of frustration isn't novel. But what's new -- at least to me -- is the distinction that Rios seems to draw for a player who, by definition, should be in the minors. I've considered the dynamic from the perspective of a guy who is ousted for a Rule 5 pick (Josh Phegley after Adrian Nieto), but not across to the other dugout.
Rios is described in the story as somebody who "exudes a dignified presence," which sounds like a fancier way of saying "chillin' the most" to me.
In other "other teams' problems" news, the Seattle Mariners are a half-game worse than the White Sox despite rosier preseason projections. Robinson Cano forgetting how many runners were on base didn't help in their loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night.
And Jon Lester's six-year, $155 commitment with the Cubs is off to a fascinating start, between the spring training reports of a dead arm, his 7.84 ERA through two starts, and his made-for-the-Cubs fear of throwing to first base.
While you can use euphemisms to describe the start of the Lester era on the North Side, the beginning of Yasmaniy Tomas' career in Arizona has all the makings of a disaster. Dave Stewart signed him to a six-year, $68.5 million contract with the idea of playing him at third base. No other team saw him as a possibility there, and all the other teams were correct -- perhaps because Tomas showed up to camp out of shape.
The Diamondbacks tried to avoid limiting him to the outfield because their depth chart is already overstuffed there. On the other hand, the layer of talent Tomas afforded Arizona the chance to let him start in Triple-A and get acclimated to their program ... until they decided to call him up when an injury opened up a 25-man roster spot, but no playing time. Nothing about this is making the comparisons to Dayan Viciedo any less foreboding.
Speaking of Viciedo, there hasn't been a single news story about him this month after the Blue Jays released him at the end of March.