By Jeffrey Flanagan and Thomas Harding
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost said the decision to add rookie infielder Raul Mondesi to the World Series roster had nothing to do with the pregnancy of second baseman Ben Zobrist's wife, Julianna, who recently tweeted that she is due around Nov. 10.
The World Series, if it were to go a full seven games, would end on Nov. 4, barring rainouts.
Yost said he was unaware Julianna's pregnancy might be an issue in terms of her husband's availability for the Series.
"That's the first I've heard of it," Yost said. "I asked Benny a couple of weeks ago when the baby was due, and I thought he said like the 12th [of November] or something like that. I'm not really sure."
Without adding Mondesi, though, the Royals would have been in a bind if Zobrist had to leave the Series -- there is no family emergency leave in the postseason, as the Blue Jays found out when Aaron Loup had to leave the them to attend to a personal matter.
Mondesi gives the Royals a backup to reserve infielder Christian Colon, who would take over at second base if Zobrist had to leave.
But Zobrist seemed to indicate the chances of him leaving were slim.
Zobrist told FOX prior to Tuesday's game: "If she goes into labor and I'm playing, she's not going to tell me. Obviously if something happens, something dangerous, I'm gone -- that's the priority.
"She said if I'm playing and everything is fine, she's probably not going to let me know until after the game."
Yost said the decision to put Mondesi on the roster over outfielder Terrance Gore was based strictly on flexibility for the National League games anyway.
"It took a long time for me to think through this with the coaches," Yost said. "Gore is a tremendous basestealer, but he's kind of a specialist at that. Mondesi can do a lot of things; he can play the field really, really well -- shortstop, second base. He's a switch-hitter. He can hit a fastball, he can bunt and he can run. All these situations come into play. It's just more flexibility in a National League game for us right there.
"The coaches were on the idea before I was. We had to sit and we had to discuss it for a long time. And finally, when I told Raul yesterday that he was going to be on the roster, he just looked at me and said, 'I'm ready.' That turned the page for me."
Yost said the Royals simply couldn't afford a role-specific player such as Gore.
"We like to have Paulo Orlando for defensive purposes late," Yost said. "[Jarrod] Dyson, we can use in the outfield and he can pinch-run. Colon is our only infielder.
"Now, if we decide to use Christian Colon in a situation, we still have an infielder. If we decide to use Dyson, we still have an outfielder that we can put in the outfield. It just made more sense."
Mondesi ready for opportunity
Mondesi's father, Raul, won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1994, and the strong-armed outfielder made 6,389 regular-season plate appearances and 38 more in the postseason without making the World Series.
But on Tuesday, Mondesi's son was on the precipice of his Major League debut -- in the World Series, no less. If he appears for the Royals, Mondesi will be the first player to make his debut in the World Series, which began in 1903.
The younger Mondesi, 20, played in 81 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas (.243, six homers, 33 RBIs, 19-for-25 on stolen bases). However, he actually looked comfortable at a game-day news conference, which was arranged to fill time because rain washed out batting practice.
The Royals pulled Mondesi out of their offseason program in Surprise, Ariz., and told him he was "coming here just to work out with the team," Mondesi said. But manager Ned Yost, believing Mondesi's speed could be useful, added him to the active roster for the Fall Classic. Maybe all those days hanging out with dad on the field at Dodger Stadium, in a little uniform, will help make this less of a big deal.
"I say I'm ready because I saw my dad playing all the years, so that's not -- something big, but I'm ready to help the team," said Mondesi, who said his dad is working with Little League players in his native Dominican Republic.
Cain on Mondesi
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who made that daring dash home from first base to score the decisive run on Eric Hosmer's long single to the right-field corner in the eighth inning of Game 6 in the American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays, was at a loss to give a scouting report on Mondesi.
"I haven't seen him actually play much," Cain said. "As far as Spring Training, I didn't get a chance to play with him in the Minor Leagues or anything like that. The guy is solid defensively, definitely can swing the bat. From what I've seen, he put on a little weight. He added power to his game. Just overall a very talented player."
Cain has it covered
Cain doesn't have a lot of time to consume media. He's too busy running down balls in center field and igniting his team on the bases. But Cain admits being stopped by a media image on Tuesday, before the World Series opener.
Sports Illustrated has broken out two covers this week: One featuring Mets slugger Daniel Murphy. That cover will not be seen anywhere near Kauffman Stadium. The other features Cain jumping in jubilation.
"Actually, I was signing autographs this morning, and a guy pulled it up and showed me," Cain said. "I didn't see it until then. It was pretty neat.
Pretty neat accurately describes how Cain sees the hoopla surrounding the Royals' second straight appearance in the Fall Classic. If there was awe last year, when the Royals had the potential tying run at third base in Game 7 only to see the Giants mob pitcher Madison Bumgarner and walk away with the Commissioner's Trophy, it's not present in Cain's voice or his club's demeanor.
"I mean, it is the World Series, but at the same time, you've got to treat it as another game," said Cain, who is hitting .275 with seven RBIs and has played solid defense this postseason. "You can go out there and maybe get too emotional or too into it. I feel like that's when you make mistakes.
"Try to go out and treat it like another game, keep calm and keep our composure out there. Do what we can. Find ways to get on for each other. Keep the line moving, as we say. At the end of the day, find a way to win the World Series."