ANAHEIM -- There was a nice story this spring about how pitcher Kelvin Herrera called his mother in the Dominican Republic last year, no matter how late the hour, every time he won a promotion within the Royals' organization.And there were a lot of calls because Herrera went from Class A to Double-A to Triple-A to the Major Leagues. So the question is: Did he call his mother Maria after he won a spot on the Royals' roster to open the season? "Of course," Herrera said. "Her son is a big league player now." And, even if he didn't realize it, the right-handed reliever is also the youngest player on the youngest 25-man roster in the Majors. The team's average age on Opening Day was 27 years, 155 days and Herrera was 22 years, 97 days. "The youngest one?" he said. "Nice. I think God blessed me." Manager Ned Yost sees Herrera's tremendous potential, one that combined for three Minor League teams last year got him a 7-1 record, 14 saves, a 1.60 ERA and 70 strikeouts (against 15 walks) in 67 2/3 innings. "Stuff -- 95 to 97 [mph]. Got a good breaking ball, good changeup. The ability to throw strikes. He's got good stuff, he's young," Yost said. Youngest on the youngest team. "Everybody's young here and somebody has to be the youngest," Herrera said. "And it's me."
Struggling Gordon may get Monday off
ANAHEIM -- Royals left fielder Alex Gordon is off to a poor start at the plate: 0-for-13 with no runs, no RBIs, no nothing.After Gordon went 0-for-5 in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Angels, manager Ned Yost said he might give Gordon Monday night off in the series opener at Oakland. The A's have left-hander Tommy Milone pitching, so Yost has the option of starting right-handed-hitting Jason Bourgeois instead of left-handed Gordon. "I'll think through it. We may give him a break tomorrow," Yost said. "The only way we're going to get Bourgeois or Mitch [Maier] is when these guys aren't hitting. So you take advantage of it when you can. I don't know that we're going to do it -- we'll think through and see where we're at tomorrow." Gordon has been on base just once, with a walk, and has struck out six times. "Obviously it wasn't a good series for me," Gordon said. "It's a long season so I've got to forget about it and move on. I've got to start helping this team out, especially if I'm going to be at the top of the order. Luckily guys like [Eric] Hosmer, [Billy] Butler and [Jeff] Francoeur had a good series and were able to pick me up. So that makes a good team." A diving stop by first baseman Albert Pujols deprived Gordon of a hit in the third inning on Sunday. "Pujols. Yeah, he won a Gold Glove for a reason," Gordon said. He's not the Royals' only slow starter. Third baseman Mike Moustakas and center fielder Lorenzo Cain each are 1-for-11 (.091). Moustakas' one hit, though, was a home run.
Mendoza ready to open new chapter with KC
ANAHEIM -- Royals pitcher Luis Mendoza gets his another chance, beginning Monday night at Oakland."I'm ready and this is what I've been waiting for all these years," Mendoza said. In 2008 he broke camp with the Texas Rangers and was in their starting rotation. That didn't last long, and eventually his career sputtered for a while. Now, at age 28, he's opening the season as the Royals' No. 4 starter. "A new team and a new challenge and I just look forward to doing well and helping my team," he said. Mendoza led Major League pitchers in Spring Training with a 0.47 ERA (one earned run in 19 1/3 innings) and tied for the lead with four victories. Last year, including the playoffs, he was 14-5 with a 2.03 ERA for Triple-A Omaha, and was Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year. Then he came to Kansas City and won both his starts. "I just try to bring all that from last year to the Major League level. I know it's the big leagues; I know it's different; I know the hitters are smarter," he said. "But I just try to do the same thing, keep the same consistency in my delivery and mix up my pitches more." He's made just two brief relief appearances previously at Oakland, but he likes the old Coliseum. "Why not?" he said, smiling. "It's a big field. It's good to pitch in a big field with the good defense we have."
Escobar gets taste of two hole
ANAHEIM -- Alcides Escobar batted in the second slot of the Royals' lineup on Sunday, but it's nothing permanent -- although someday it could be."It's a one-day thing. We're not setting anything in stone, we just go day to day with it," manager Ned Yost said. A lineup shuffle started with Chris Getz, who's hit Angels starter Ervin Santana well in the past, starting at second base. With Yuniesky Betancourt out of the lineup, Yost wanted a right-handed bat behind the left-handed Mike Moustakas to discourage the Angels from bringing in a lefty to face Moose. So he dropped Lorenzo Cain from second to seventh. Also, Yost didn't want three lefty batters at the top of the lineup, so he batted Getz, a lefty, ninth and moved the right-handed Escobar to the second slot. Got all that? Anyway, Escobar -- in Yost's view -- is making good progress as a hitter and might eventually have the ability to bat in the two-hole regularly. "Last year, he was more a pull hitter, had a loop in his swing," Yost said. "This year he's eliminated the loop, he can drive the ball to all fields, he can bunt, he can do situational things." So maybe Escobar will swing second someday. But not on Monday night -- Cain will be back in the No. 2 spot at Oakland.
Catcher Humberto Quintero, who caught the Angels' Bobby Wilson straying off first base on Saturday, has recorded more pickoffs than any other catcher since 2010. That was his 12th pickoff since then, including seven in '10 and four last year for the Astros. The next closest catchers have five in that span. After Eric Hosmer, 22, and Mike Moustakas, 23, each homered in Saturday's 6-3 victory, the Elias Sports Bureau found that was the first time two Royals infielders under the age of 24 homered in the same game. Left fielder Alex Gordon will receive his 2011 Gold Glove Award during pregame ceremonies at Friday night's home opener.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.