Royals manager Ned Yost, in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 lead over Baltimore, announced that Jason Vargas will go in Game Four. There was some speculation that James Shields would take that start on normal rest. However, Shields has looked tired in recent starts and the Royals decided to give him an additional day of rest. Yost addressed several other issues in his press conference today:
Q. Who is your Game4 starter?
NED YOST: We’re going to go with Vargas.
Q. What was the thought process?
NED YOST: The thought process, Guthrie has had a bunch of rest, Vargy has had a bunch of rest. We thought it beneficial to give Shields an extra day and Ventura an extra day. I think being up two games helps us do that. If it was tied 1?1, it might have been a different decision. But we just felt it was best to line it up that way, give everybody as much rest as we can and go get it.
Q. You have six No. 1 draft picks on this 25?man roster. And they seem to get better with age. As they progress through the postseason are you just proud of the way they just keep building on what they keep doing the time before?
NED YOST: Yeah, absolutely. I’m absolutely proud of the way they’ve handled themselves, the way that they’ve produced, the way that they’ve played through the postseason.
So it’s fun, you know, coming into this five years ago, you knew that would be the fun of it is building something kind of from scratch. And Dayton had put all the pieces in play there for us. And it was just a matter of time until they developed. But to watch them go through the last couple of years, the ups and the downs and to finally get to this point, I am very proud of them. And it is fun to watch them have as much fun and as much success as they’ve had so far.
Q. You mentioned the extra rest for James. Do you feel like his performance has been related to arm fatigue or the amount of innings or anything like that?
NED YOST: No.
Q. Your team’s offense this year, how much do you think it’s a product of putting a team that fits well for this ballpark as opposed to how much is the team’s potential being constrained by this ballpark?
NED YOST: No, that was part of it. When Dayton put his plan together years and years ago, he knew we played in an extremely big ballpark, and that speed and athleticism would play a huge part in it. And then he set out to find the most athletic players he could find to put in this ballpark together.
You look at Salvador Perez, as big of a man he is, he’s extremely athletic behind the plate. Hos is extremely athletic. Mous is extremely athletic. He’s got a different type body than, say, Lorenzo Cain. He’s still extremely athletic. It’s a nice combination. It’s hard to really show our power off in this park. You can hit homers in it, but speed and athleticism was the blueprint, especially in ?? like I said, in this big stadium.
Q. I know it’s not quite the layoff that Guthrie had, but what is your rustiness factor with Vargas, what’s he shown on the side?
NED YOST: He’s been great on the side. He’s ready to go. It just worked out that way. There’s nothing you could do about it. Vargas started Game 1 of the Division Series. Guthrie was slated to throw Game4 in the Division Series, and we took it in three. And we had the long layoff. And of course, we set our rotation with Shields and Ventura going second. So we knew all along that we probably would go with our veteran guys and Guthrie and Vargas and that’s the way it’s worked out. They’ve all been throwing their side sessions. Guthrie threw a 5?inning sim game five days ago, and a good side. And Vargas has been throwing his sides. And they’re all very sharp on their sides.
Q. How does your lineup match up with Chen, specifically the middle part of the order?
NED YOST: Okay. I mean, I like the way our lineup has matched up against anybody here lately. You look at normally during the course of the season Mous struggled against lefties, but he’s been really, really good for the most part against lefties in the playoffs. But our lineup has been doing extremely well. We’ve had a lot of guys getting on base at the top of the order, a lot of production from the middle of the order. And of course, Mous has been producing at the bottom of the order, too. So we think we stack up okay.
Q. Watching the guys grow in front of you, how frustrating was it to stand back and let them figure it out before you got involved with them?
NED YOST: I don’t know if “frustrating” was the right word. Because you know they needed that time to develop. So I don’t know if I ever got frustrated watching them.
I think we’d get frustrated at times over lack of offense. But I never got frustrated with them, because I knew how hard they were trying, how hard ?? they weren’t just up there hacking, they were up there trying to figure it out. You knew once they did figure it out it would be fun to watch. And that’s kind of where we’re at right now.
Q. Nori has been ?? how much is learning the League, learning the umpires, he is a big student of all of that?
NED YOST: He is a big student of all of that. I think that has a lot to do with it. Nori has had great years over here. He was great in Milwaukee. The comfort level, you could kind of tell early that he didn’t know a lot of these pitchers. He was asking a million questions, he was going over the video, he was going over the scouting reports. And I think second time around after facing some of these guys the comfort level was much, much greater for him. And he’s been doing a nice job for us.
Q. The pitch selection was kind of an issue in the regular season, all of a sudden it hasn’t been in the postseason. Did it just click and they figured it out? What do you attribute that to?
NED YOST: Yeah, it just clicked and they figured it out. Those are all things we talk about every day. When you’re going good, that’s why you’re going good, because you’re getting pitches to hit and you’re not missing them. But when you’re not, you’re not getting good pitches to hit and you can’t drive the ball, when you’re not swinging at strikes or hunting balls up in the zone. Something just clicked and all of a sudden they’re locked in at the plate, all of them.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about the bullpen in general this year. Specifically with Greg Holland, this is his third or fourth year as a really dominant closer. What does he mean to this team?
NED YOST: Well, he means a lot to this team. There were years that our whole focus was to get to the eighth inning and let them get the ball to Greg Holland. And this year it’s been, Okay, let’s get through six and get the ball to Greg Holland.
He’s the guy that’s a tremendous competitor. He’s got great stuff. He can get his fastball up to 97 miles an hour and his slider and split are really tough to pick up and see. That’s why you get a lot of swings and misses in balls down out of the zone. A tremendous competitor, fearless when he steps on the mound. And you couple that with great stuff, that’s why he’s been so successful.
Q. Looks like it’s going to be pretty windy today. Any way to figure that wind out there?
NED YOST: No, we’ve played in windy games before. The wind plays the same for both teams. It will probably knock balls down in left and left centerfield and even into centerfield. But our guys have a pretty good idea. And you know what, these guys, even Baltimore, who hasn’t played here that much, their outfield is outstanding. And they’re really, really good defensive players. They’ll get out there during batting practice and take balls and understand what the wind is doing, too, in a matter of about ten minutes. You just go play the game.