Moustakas optimistic Royals will be in the hunt

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Mike Moustakas, eager to wipe out what caused his second-half drop-off last season, is continuing to wear out the baseball.

His two hits in Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Rockies gave Moustakas a healthy .426 average in the Cactus League to go with three home runs and nine RBIs.

The Royals (17-6-1), now hitting .327 as a team, lead the Majors in hitting, but even better news is that they're a close third in runs at 149 in their 24 games. During the regular season last year, they ranked 20th in the Major League in scoring and third-to-last in the American League. That trend seems to have reversed.

"That's what we do on this team -- one through 10, 11, 12," Moustakas said. "We've got guys that can hit and we're going to be able to put up some runs on the board, and with the pitching staff we have this year and the defense that we always put out there, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch and come see."

His homer off Rockies starter Juan Nicasio sailed over the right-field wall, and he also singled.

"Moose was on everything today," manager Ned Yost said. "He really smoked the ball. He had great swings and was on everything."

Moustakas also gunned down Troy Tulowitzki after a diving stop to his right in the first inning.

"He's been really close on all his diving plays," Yost said. "He's been fine-tuning it and getting into midseason form with it, and made a great one today," Yost said.

Yost praises Guthrie's best spring outing

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Even though Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie gave up four runs (three earned) and eight hits in Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Rockies, his manager thought the outing was Guthrie's best of Spring Training.

"He had good action on all his pitches, commanded the ball really well and he's getting close," Ned Yost said. "His pitch count (75) was right where we wanted it and I was pleased with his outing."

Guthrie nodded agreement.

"I thought it was good. I was able to go out there and execute the majority of my pitches and get some ground balls," Guthrie said.

All eight of the hits off him were singles, and some were aided by the rock-hard infield. Bad luck?

"I don't know about bad luck, but they hit the ball hard enough that they got over an infielder or got between them," Guthrie said. "But I'll take those over home runs and doubles in the gap."

Closer Greg Holland helped Aaron Crow out of an eighth-inning jam, but gave up three runs on four hits in the ninth.

"We wanted to give 'ups-and-downs' to Crow and Holland, so he came in and got us out of the inning and ran into a little trouble after that, but that normally won't happen during the season," Yost said.

Royals Hall of Fame voting open to fans

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Fans can begin voting for their part of the Royals Hall of Fame ballot immediately online through noon on March 29 at this link.

The 10 eligible players include four former All-Stars -- outfielders Bo Jackson and Jermaine Dye, third baseman Kevin Seitzer and catcher Darrell Porter. Jackson was named the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player in 1989, Dye was voted to the starting lineup in 2000, Seitzer was picked as a rookie in 1987 and Porter was a three-time selection from 1978-80.

The others on the ballot are former player and manager John Wathan, outfielders Al Cowens and Emil Brown, and pitchers Al Fitzmorris, Jimmy Gobble and Runelvys Hernandez.

To be eligible for the first time, players must have played at least three seasons for the Royals with a minimum of 1,500 plate appearances or 150 innings pitched. They must be retired from playing for at least three years.

The online fans' ballot will account for three of 40 overall votes. The other votes go to the living Royals Hall of Fame members, select members of the Royals board of directors, the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, KC electronic media and the Royals front office staff. A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote to be elected.

Royals hand out awards to Minor Leaguers, staff

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Minor League players Alex McClure, Brett Eibner and Terrance Gore were among those honored on Tuesday at the Royals' organizational awards ceremony at the training complex.

Staff member Victor Baez, executive Kevin Linton and scout Colin Gonzales also were recognized.

McClure received the Mike Sweeney Award as the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. A shortstop, he divided last season between Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was a regular at community events and a large part of the Naturals' Faith and Family Day celebration.

"It's not the back of your baseball card that defines you, it's the lives that you impact, whether it be your teammates or the people in your community," said Sweeney, who presented the award.

Eibner, the center fielder for Wilmington last season, was the Frank White Defensive Player of the Year. He received the award from the Royals' two-time Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon.

As Spring Training winds down, Eibner sounded the call for the assembled players.

"Thanks to the Royals and let's get going!" Eibner said.

Gore, an outfielder in Rookie ball, received the Willie Wilson Award as the organization's top baserunner. He led the Appalachian League last year with 36 stolen bases and 50 runs scored for Burlington.

"What's impressive is his basestealing. His percentage was 94.7," Wilson said when he presented the award. "He had really good instincts."

The winners of the George Brett Hitter of the Year Award (outfielder Wil Myers) and the Paul Splittorff Pitcher of the Year Award (Jake Odorizzi) will be sent their awards. They went to Tampa Bay in the Royals' major offseason trade for James Shields.

Baez, the coordinator of the Royals Dominican Academy, was the Dick Howser Player Development Person of the Year. In his sixth year with the organization, he led the move to a new complex last year in Mojarra, Guerra, east of Santo Domingo.

Brett and John Wathan, both players under Howser, who managed the 1985 World Series champions, were co-presenters. Brett gave the more than 200 Minor and Major League players in the audience a history of Howser's career. Wathan noted that Baez was "a father figure" to Dominican players.

Linton, director of community affairs for Wilmington's Blue Rocks, received the Matt Minker Award as an outstanding Minor League affiliate employee. It was presented by the late club owner's brother, Jack Minker.

Gonzales, area scout in Southern California, wasn't on hand, but will receive the Art Stewart Award as an outstanding scout prior to a Royals game.