Staff ace Zack Greinke voiced concerns back in August about the Royals’ current rebuilding strategy, telling the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton that he’s not “excited” about the club’s crop of youngsters “because the chance of more than one of them making a major impact” during the duration of his contract is “pretty slim.” Not all longtime Royals share Zack’s feelings.
Dutton spoke Thursday with All-Star closer Joakim Soria, who is perfectly content with his situation and pleased with the strides that the Royals have made in the draft and down on the farm.
“I’m still young,” Soria said, “and I think I’m a piece of what they want to do with this team. I think it’s a good idea to rebuild the team, and they’ve been doing great work with the minor-league system.”
Soria, 26, turned in a fantastic 1.78 ERA and 1.05 WHIP this past season while also converting 43 saves in 46 chances. He has major trade value as one of baseball’s top closers, but the Royals control him through 2014 and aren’t likely to part ways with the righty until they absolutely have to.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.