KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We know Jeremy Guthrie spent two years on a Mormon mission. We know he digs bikes. We know he takes the environment seriously.
Himself? Not so much.
On Friday, the newest Kansas City Royal tweeted this: “I just told Dayton Moore on phone that the 1st player I would’ve chose for HR Derby would’ve been Billy Butler.”
Oh, you cad.
“You know, I like the powder blue tops,” said Guthrie, who’s slated to make his Royals pitching debut Sunday against Minnesota, just two days after being acquired in a trade from the Colorado Rockies. “That’s a nice way to start. I’m excited about that.”
We know Royals fans are excited, too — in a Man-I’m-Glad-You’re-Not-Jonathan-Sanchez sort of way. Pretty much all Guthrie, who sports a 4.37 career ERA despite being abused in the mountains (1-5 in seven Denver starts), has to do is a.) throw strikes; and b.) look like he halfway cares, and the locals will shower him with the kind of love they normally roll out for Butler after an All-Star snub.
Guthrie is 33 years old, the career at something of a crossroads; He couldn’t have picked a better spot at which to try and jump-start the engine again. His predecessor went 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA and 44 walks in 53 1/3 innings. The Royals’ rotation has experienced more Tommy John surgeries this summer (two) than complete games (one). The bar is Tom Arnold low.
“It’s a great opportunity — a place where, if I could choose a place to go, this would certainly be at the top of the list,” said the Oregon native, who averaged 10 wins and 205 innings for Baltimore between 2009-11 but posted a 3-9 mark in Colorado. “Great young team, with all the potential in the world. And I’m happy to be a part of it and do my thing.”
We know the history is encouraging: Since 2004, the right-hander is 4-1 against the Twins with a 2.70 ERA. In 37 appearances against the Tigers, White Sox, Indians and Twinkies, he’s 12-11 with a 4.30 ERA.
We know he throws strikes. We know he pitches to contact. We know that Kauffman Stadium, even when it feels like a giant microwave oven, is kinder on pitchers than Baltimore’s Camden Yards. We know his statistics away from Coors Field (49 innings pitched, 55 hits allowed, 3.67 ERA, 1.51 WHIP) are a better indicator of future performance here than his disastrous run (9.50 ERA, 1.90 WHIP) over in the LoDo district.
What we don’t know is whether there’ll be any kind of post-Rockies hangover, Does Guthrie still trust his stuff after months of shell shock? Was it just a matter of getting out of Denver — the pitcher told reporters Friday that the ball “felt different” leaving his hands at Coors Field — or something else?
“It’s no guarantee, by any stretch,” Guthrie said when asked about the ol’ change-of-scenery trade. “You’ve got to pitch good.
“But I had a great environment (in Denver), though. I had great teammates. Great coaching staff. Tremendous fans. So I have no complaints other than my own performance. So it’s not that I was banging down walls trying to get out of there. I wanted to do my part, and was never able to really do that.”
We know he’s a straight-shooter. Before his salad days at Stanford, there was a stint at BYU, and work as a missionary in Spain. We know Guthrie holds environmental causes close to his heart; so much so that he preferred to ride a bike to work in Baltimore and Denver, even attaching a headlight to the thing so he could whizz home after night games.
We know he’s pals with comedian Jay Mohr. We know he likes social media. We know he’s not afraid hop on Twitter and tweak his teammates. Even the new ones.
“I’m just being honest,” Guthrie replied when asked about his Home Run Derby endorsement. “I’d choose Billy Butler (for the Derby). Big home run hitter, Country Breakfast. I would’ve chosen him.”
“Did the fans want that or something?” he continued, by now fighting a grin with deadpan brilliance.
“They did? Well, that’s nice. I guess we’re thinking along the same lines then.”
So we know Jeremy Guthrie has a sense of humor. With the dog days knocking at the door, it beats the living pants off the alternative.