KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The understandably paltry crowd at cold and rain-soaked Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night perked up when they heard the name of the Blue Jays’ No. 9 hitter being introduced — Chris Getz, the former Royal.
And even on a night when raindrops hitting the batting helmets seemed to be the loudest noise inside the stadium, it wasn’t hard to distinguish a slight chorus of boos for Getz.
Royals fans never forget.
Before the game, Getz said he had no reservations about coming back to Kansas City, a place where he played for four years and became simultaneously manager Ned Yost’s pet player and some fans’ pet peeve.
"I don’t have an issue with Royals fans," Getz said upon arriving at the stadium. "It’ll be good to see them. Really."
But some fans likely are just relieved that Getz, whom the Blue Jays called up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier Tuesday, appeared in Kansas City in another team’s uniform.
How Getz — a hustling player with a limited skill set — got under some fans’ skin is certainly curious to outsiders.
As one out-of-town writer commented in the press box on the boos for Getz, "That’s a lot of vitriol for a No. 9 hitter."
That’s true. But here in Royal land, years of misery and losing have conditioned fans to identify potential culprits indiscriminately.
Getz, in his four years here, became a symbol of the player fans got tired of seeing — players with low ceilings but who "did all the little things" in a manager’s eyes. Yost’s insistence that Getz be his second baseman became infuriating to many fans, especially on Twitter and especially when prospect Johnny Giavotella began posting strong offensive numbers at Triple-A Omaha.
Compounding the situation for Getz was that he played with teams that generated precious little offense, which also happened to be the weakest part of his game.
In his time here, Getz hit just .248 with an almost unheard-of slugging percentage of .295. He hit just one homer in 1,124 plate appearances.
And last year, Getz turned in a slash line of .220/.288/.273.
Finally, because of injuries and poor production, Getz began to give up time at second base to other candidates, including the fan favorite, Giavotella.
"It comes down to production," Getz said of last season. "There were some injuries that happened that were tough for me. And then it comes down to being able to play well. They had a lot of options, too. Last year we had (Miguel) Tejada, Elliot (Johnson), myself, Gio (Johnny Giavotella).
"When that happens, if you’re not playing well, they go with the guy who is. They go with the hot guy."
The Royals never found an answer at second base last season. And they didn’t find that answer until they signed Omar Infante to a four-year deal last December. The Getz experiment actually ended roughly two weeks before that when the Royals’ non-tendered him.
But Getz doesn’t believe his time with the Royals was all failure.
"I spent four years here," he said. "I hate to look at it as ‘it didn’t work out.’ They just decided to go in a different direction at that particular point.
"To be honest, I don’t think about it."
Getz wasn’t upset that the Royals non-tendered him.
"Nah, I left on a good note with good relationships," he said. "Nothing sour. Nothing like that.
"It’s part of the game. You have to look at it that way. They have to make their decisions and that’s fine. You get up and make an opportunity somewhere else. "
And now with Toronto, Getz finds himself in a similar situation — he just took a spot on the 25-man roster from a young Jays prospect in Ryan Goins.
Goins has been compared defensively to the great Roberto Alomar Jr., but has struggled to hit at this level. According to some Blue Jays observers, though, Goins apparently isn’t quite the fan darling with Jays fans that Giovatella is with Royals fans.
"Yeah, I get that (comparison)," Getz said, smiling. "(Goins) is a good player, getting used to the big leagues. Obviously, it’s not easy (for him). It’s a tough game.
"He’ll go down (to Triple A), kind of get his confidence back. Meanwhile, I’ll do my thing. That’s all I can do."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at email@example.com.