Royals land 4 starters in All-Star Game in Cincinnati
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The AL champion Kansas City Royals had so many starters voted into the All-Star Game on Sunday that they ran out of seats for all of them.
Not that it was a problem.
Salvador Perez, their affable catcher, simply hopped off the platform and grabbed his own chair from the crowd. With a good-natured smile, he carried it back onto the stage and settled in alongside shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon.
Cut the Royals some slack, though. This is the first time in franchise history that they've had four starters voted into the Midsummer Classic, and the most players they've had total since George Brett led five All-Stars onto the 1982 team. The last time Kansas City had any starters was 2000, when outfielder Jermaine Dye was chosen to start.
''I really do feel great,'' said Royals manager Ned Yost, who will have his entire coaching staff along with him when he manages the AL squad on July 14 in Cincinnati.
''We're going to have a blast,'' he said. ''The All-Star game is an experience you never forget, and to do it with so many of our teammates there is really special.''
The Royals could have a whole bunch more, too.
Relief pitcher Wade Davis, who is 4-1 with a 0.25 ERA, is a near-lock to make the squad when pitchers and reserves are announced Monday night. An injury to first baseman Miguel Cabrera could also open a spot for Eric Hosmer, who for a while had been leading the voting at their position.
Regardless, one more addition would match the franchise record of five total players set in 1982, when George Brett started the game and Hal McRae, Dan Quisenberry, Frank White and Willie Wilson were part of the festivities at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
''It's just been the support of our fans, really, over the last two years,'' said Gordon, making his third straight All-Star appearance. ''Winning brings attention and that's what we've been doing. I think we play with a lot of energy, a lot of fun. People have noticed it.''
For years, the Royals only had the minimum of one All-Star, and often it was a token player who was hardly deserving - Mark Redman and Gil Meche, for example.
But after their impassioned run to the World Series a year ago, the Royals became the darlings of not only Kansas City but much of the country. And the result was millions of votes cast in their favor in the first balloting to be done entirely online, a number so overwhelming that many pundits began to argue that the system for voting All-Star starters must be changed.
At one point, the Royals had eight players leading the voting at their respective positions, and second baseman Omar Infante - hitting just .231 this season - was still tops in the AL in the final update before getting overtaken by Houston's Jose Altuve at the finish.
''Thanks to the fans. Thanks for the support, for coming to the ballgame every day,'' said Perez, who will also be making his third All-Star appearance but, like Gordon, will start for the first time. ''When we see all those fans, we play a little more aggressive to win the game.''
Tempting as it might be for Yost to fill out his roster with the ones who were overtaken - Infante, Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and designated hitter Kendrys Morales - he insisted Sunday that he will use his few selections on the players that are most deserving.
''It's hard,'' he said, ''but I want to do the right thing here, for everybody. The integrity of the All-Star game is important for me. I want to do the right thing - I want to do the right thing for Major League Baseball, I want to do the right thing for each organization and I want to do the right thing for each player, so I can go to bed at night and my conscience is clear.''