Royals-Mariners Preview

It wasn’t long ago that the Kansas City Royals led the majors in

batting, but many of the players responsible for that production

are no longer on the team – and their offense has suffered.

The Royals look to get their sputtering offense untracked

Saturday night when they continue a weekend series against the

Seattle Mariners.

Kansas City (46-63) has a .278 average to rank second in the

majors, but now the Royals are clearly back in a rebuilding phase.

They designated veteran Jose Guillen for assignment on Thursday,

even though the slugger led the team with 16 homers and 62

RBIs.

Top hitter David DeJesus is out for the season with a thumb

injury, and Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and Alberto Callaspo have

all been traded. The result is unproven young players like Gregor

Blanco and Kila Ka’aihue getting chances to play, and Kansas City

has totaled seven runs in losing three of four to start this

nine-game West Coast road trip.

“Everybody thinks that we’re in a rebuilding mode, that that’s

an excuse for us to lower our expectations as an organization, but

that’s as far from the truth as it can get,” manager Ned Yost told

the Royals’ official website.

The Royals lineup is further depleted this weekend since former

Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is expected to miss the

series to be with his wife in Miami at the delivery of their first

child.

Kansas City fell 7-1 on Friday as Seattle starter Luke French

scattered nine hits in eight innings. The Mariners (41-69) ended a

three-game slide against the Royals and beat reigning AL Cy Young

Award winner Zack Greinke for the first time.

Seattle scored its most runs since an 8-1 win over Detroit on

July 4. Ryan Langerhans homered among his three hits and Chone

Figgins drove in three runs.

Bruce Chen (6-5, 4.74 ERA) will start for Kansas City. He gave

up three runs over five innings Sunday to earn a 5-4 win over

Baltimore after going 0-3 with a 7.97 ERA in his previous four

outings.

“Chen would bend, but never break,” Yost said.

The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts against

Seattle, though Ichiro Suzuki is 9 for 19 against him.

The Mariners’ David Pauley (0-3, 3.38) again will be looking for

his first major league victory. He’s 0-6 with a 6.71 ERA in 17

appearances, with nine starts in his career.

The journeyman right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.19 ERA in four

starts this year and lost his most recent one, lasting 2 2-3

innings and giving up four runs July 29 in a 9-5 defeat to the

Chicago White Sox. Pauley has made one appearance out of the

bullpen since, and he’s never started against Kansas City.