Notes: Mientkiewicz, Teahen set to start

Notes: Mientkiewicz, Teahen set for Opener

KANSAS CITY -- There'll be no change at first base for the Royals in Monday's opener.

Doug Mientkiewicz will be at first base even though manager Buddy Bell could've reached onto his bench for another right-handed hitter to face left-handed Kenny Rogers of the Detroit Tigers.

Last week, Bell considered using Tony Graffanino, a right-hander against Rogers at first base. Then, Bell decided to keep Mientkiewicz at first and Mark Teahen at third.

"Opening Day is such a special day," Bell said. "We're playing Mientkiewicz and Teahen in there. They were in camp from the first day getting ready, and I just decided that was the way to handle it."

Graffanino was reacquired from the Boston Red Sox on waivers.

Election Day: Opening Day will be followed by Election Day on Tuesday in Jackson County, Mo. At stake is a three-eighths cent sales tax that would finance renovations to Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadiums.

However, an Opening Day victory or loss is not expected to tilt the tax issue one way or the other.

"I'm optimistic that it'll be a good result in the election, independent of the game," said Mark Gorris, senior vice president-business operations.

Gorris expects a close vote.

"If you believe in this town being big league for a long time, this is the way to ensure that," he said.

By the numbers: This will be the Royals' 38th season opener. Their record is 13-24, including just 5-15 since 1986.

However, at home openers, they're 9-10 since 1969.

Cooper's town: Academy Award winner Chris Cooper, a Kansas City native, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday. Cooper, who won an Oscar as best supporting actor for "Adaptation" in 2002, has appeared in such films as "Capote," "Seabiscuit," "The Bourne Identity" and "The Patriot."

Sara Evans, from New Franklin, Mo., will sing the national anthem. She has had four No. 1 songs, and her latest album, "Real Fine Place," debuted at No. 1.

Buck O'Neil will be the Royals' first "honorary manager" and will present Bell's lineup card to the umpires. O'Neil, 94, played and managed for the Kansas City Monarchs.

Other Opening Day highlights will be the celebration of the team's "This Is Kansas City" campaign, an appearance by the trained bald eagle, Challenger, and an honorary lineup of children of military personnel from Fort Riley, Kan.

A half-hour of the opening ceremonies will be televised for the first time by Channel 38 in Kansas City.

Thrill of it all: Pitcher Steve Stemle and outfielder Shane Costa, late additions to the Royals roster, will be experiencing their first Major League opener.

"I think it's going to be pretty fun and tense," Costa said.

It would compare with being called up last season for a Yankees series.

"So I was pretty nervous. The third night, I was in there against [Carl] Pavano and was 1-for-3 with an RBI single," Costa said. "It was big because we swept them."

Stemle, who last year appeared in six games for the Royals, was the last player to make the 25-man roster.

"It was a little nerve-racking," he said. "But I knew I did all that I could do."

Stemle beat out Joel Peralta and Steve Andrade for a middle bullpen job.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.