RIP #RallyMantis: KC honors insect with win

RIP #RallyMantis: KC honors insect with win

MINNEAPOLIS -- One by one, Royals players stopped by a little cage perched on a coffee table inside the visitors' locker room before Friday's 7-3 win over the Twins at Target Field.

Inside the cage was a mantis, the same one dubbed #RallyMantis by Royals Twitter, which right-hander Ian Kennedy and outfielder Billy Burns brought with them on the plane ride from Kansas City the night before.

The mantis had suddenly appeared hopping around in the Royals' dugout earlier this week and would not leave. Royals players quickly got attached to it. But now it was hardly moving.

"This isn't good," said Burns, the unofficial caretaker of the mantis, as he inspected the insect.

"Call 9-1-1!" shouted right-hander Edinson Volquez.

Rally mantis alive in Kauffman

Burns had a better idea: He got some smelling salts from the team trainers. Burns held the salts up to the mantis, who did perk up momentarily before going still again.

"Oh, no. It's dying," shouted Kennedy.

Kennedy had provided the the housing for the mantis by borrowing a small cage from his children.

"I'm the landlord," Kennedy said. "Billy's the caretaker."

After the game, Royals pitcher Dillon Gee sent out this video, credited to Danny Duffy, to honor the insect, which apparently had passed.

Burns had even slept with the mantis by his side in the hotel on Thursday night.

"I sent a pic to my wife and said, 'This is who I'm with when you're not here,'" Burns said, smiling.

Burns had caught a moth with his hands after Thursday's game in Kansas City and fed it to #RallyMantis before the plane ride

"He ate the whole moth," Kennedy reported.

But suddenly, in the hours before Friday's game, the mantis fell ill.

Burns befriends praying mantis

Gee to make next start

Royals manager Ned Yost said right-hander Dillon Gee still will make his scheduled start on Saturday night. There had been some question about it after Gee threw 32 pitches in an emergency relief role during Wednesday's 14-inning game.

"He'll be fine," Yost said. "He told us, 'Do whatever you want but I'll be fine.' It's really just like a throw day for him then.

"And he's been pitching pretty good for us. So we'll stick with it."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.