I remember the first time I stepped foot inside Kauffman Stadium. I had just been traded from the Mets to the Rangers. We had never faced the Royals in Interleague Play, so it was my first experience here. It was a good-looking stadium then, but the improvements they have made since have added a lot of character to it. They used to just have grass in the outfield, but now there are the waterfalls, stands and party decks.
It does tend to get a bit warmer here in the summer. I'm sure the balls will be flying out of the stadium for the Home Run Derby. It's a big stadium to hit one out, but with the weather and the great players that will be here, it will be hard to keep them in the park. I hope they do something cool with the waterfalls in the outfield because I imagine a lot of the balls will be landing out there.
This area is also known for its barbecue cuisine, and the guys coming here will like that, for sure. Oklahoma Joe's is, hands down, my favorite place to eat. There are also many more great establishments. One great thing about this area is that it's a blue-collar town. They are great people who, above everything else, are down to earth and are ready to host anyone who comes here.
The fans here are also excited about our young team. We have a lot of young talent, and we always go out and play hard -- not just for ourselves, but for our fans, too. I think that's one of the things that the fans here appreciate. We always play hard and go after it.
The All-Star Game gives our team a little more exposure. It also gives the Kansas City area some more exposure. We have great fans. I think we have a good shot to make some noise during the season. As the years go on, the younger players have gained more experience, and with that, it gives us the chance to compete for a spot in the playoffs.
Other than Kauffman Stadium, I really enjoy playing at Petco Park in San Diego. It's not a great hitters park, but it's a beautiful stadium that is very fan friendly. I hope they have the opportunity to host an All-Star Game someday.
Even though the locker rooms are cramped and outdated, I also love playing at Wrigley Field. I have fun every time we go there. I also love playing at Citi Field. It is a beautiful stadium.
Outfielder Jeff Francoeur is in his second season with the Royals. He played in his 1,000th career regular-season contest earlier in 2012. Kansas City hosts the 2012 All-Star Game on July 10.