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Monday, February 20, 2012

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K.C. pitchers hope for rebound year SURPRISE, ARIZ. (AP) — Dayton Moore knew he’d need to improve the Kansas City pitching staff if the Royals were to have any chance of fulfilling some lofty expectations this season. The general manager’s first significant move came in November, when he dealt outfielder Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for Jonathan Sanchez, gambling a lefthander oozing with talent had put a season marred by nagging injuries behind him. Moore then went out an acquired veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to bridge the gap to closer Joakim Soria, who will be trying to rebound from his own roller-coaster of a year. Perhaps the most significant move Kansas City made, though, had nothing to do with players. The Royals decided to hire Dave Eiland to replace pitching coach Bob McClure, and it will be the longtime Yankees coach’s responsibility to begin revamping the Kansas City staff when pitchers and catchers report to the team’s spring training complex today in Surprise, Ariz. “He is an extremely talented pitching coach and a proven winner,” Moore said upon Eiland’s hiring. “Our entire baseball operations staff has strong convictions about Dave’s ability to make a positive difference with our pitching staff.” The only regular starter last season with a winning

Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

KANSAS CITY ROYALS PITCHER BRUCE CHEN THROWS during an unofficial baseball spring training workout Sunday in Surprise, Ariz. record was Bruce Chen, who went 12-8, and the rotation went a combined 45-65 with a 4.82 ERA. The unsightly numbers included this seemingly implausible stat: Royals starters logged a mere 621 strikeouts in 943 innings. So it’s no secret to Eiland that things will have to improve. “It has to,” he said this week. “It if doesn’t, it falls into my lap.” Even though youngsters such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas will garner the headlines during training camp, it’s the Royals’ pitchers who could decide whether a team that hasn’t made the postseason since winning

the 1985 World Series can finally compete for an AL Central crown. Chen is back after signing a free-agent deal in the offseason. He’s basically assured a job in the rotation along with Sanchez and former top draft pick Luke Hochevar, who finally showed signs of life after plodding through a rough start to his big league career. Hochevar was the opening day starter last season, and will likely get the assignment again when Kansas City opens April 6 against Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels. Hochevar went 11-11 last season, the closest he’s had to a winning season.

“Now is the time for him to take it to the next level,” Eiland said. “I think he’s prepared to do that mentally and physically.” The 34-year-old Chen has led the staff in victories the past two seasons, which was enough to land him a $9 million, two-year deal in free agency. But he’s far from a sure thing — Chen went nearly four years without winning a big league game, and he’ll turn 35 in June. “Bruce was Bruce, and I mean that in a good way,” Eiland said after watching him throw during an optional mound session this week. “He’s a veteran, a pro. He has a plan.” Sanchez could become

the linchpin of Eiland’s entire rebuilding project. He flashed talent when he threw a no hitter for San Francisco in 2009, but he was limited to 19 starts and four wins because of injuries last season. He’s also a walk machine whose average of better than a strikeout per inning is tempered by the fact that he puts so many on base. “It’s exciting, you know?” Sanchez said of the change in scenery. “It’s exciting to make the playoffs, and that’s what we want, to be a young team that makes the playoffs.” The biggest question in camp will be who lands

Basketball “

They’ve really started to play well. Coach (Bill Self) does a CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1B good job getting them was good for some of to improve as the seathose guys to get some son goes on.”

Al Behrman/AP File Photo

FORMER AKRON HEAD COACH ROB IANELLO LEADS center Adam Bice (65) and guard Zac Kasparek (72) onto the field in this file photo from Nov. 3, 2011, in Oxford, Ohio.


with the head coach and I knew him and trusted him, it was too good to pass up,” Ianello said. With the spark reignited and the perfect opportunity to get back to coaching at his feet, Ianello started his research. He always had heard great things about living in Lawrence and knew a handful of people who had worked at Kansas throughout the years. One of them, former KU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, just happened to be a good friend.

“I had a chance to talk to Eddie over the years, and I knew what they’d done out here,” Ianello said. “When I got involved with this opportunity, I called him and said, ‘Tell me about this, tell me about that.’” Although Warinner’s role in Lawrence was different than the one Ianello will have, Ianello seems to be following in Warinner’s footsteps in at least one major way — both came to Kansas as part of a coaching staff that faced a giant rebuilding process. Under former KU boss Mark Mangino, Warinner helped lead the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl championship and some of the

most prolific offensive seasons in school history. Whether the same fate awaits Ianello remains to be seen, but the bounce has already returned to the longtime assistant coach’s step. “I love coaching,” Ianello said. “I love the interaction with the players. That’s the thing, as the head coach, that you don’t get as much. You don’t get into your (meeting) room with your players, and you don’t get the opportunity to kind of bond with them. So I’m really looking forward to getting back to that. That was always fun for me, and it’s gonna be fun for me again.”

BRIEFLY Jayhawk tennis moves to 5-0 Kansas University’s tennis team remained undefeated in dual competition on Sunday as KU took down Arkansas-Little Rock, 6-1, at the Jayhawk Tennis Center. Kansas’ 5-0 record is its best start to a season since 1992. The Jayhawks swept their doubles matches, including a 8-0 victory by Dylan Windom and Maria Belen Ludueña. The home team’s only loss of the day came in

singles competition. UALR’s Viktoriya Plyuta defeated KU’s Monica Pezzotti, 6-2, 6-4. The Jayhawks will compete next against Drake at 5 p.m. Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.

KU softball wins Charlotte Classic

The Jayhawks (7-2) won all four of their games at the tournament and will play Fairfield at 9 a.m. Friday in Wilmington, N.C.

KU baseball game washed out

NASHVILLE, TENN. — Kansas baseball’s game against Lipscomb on SunCHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kanday was canceled because sas University’s softball team of inclement weather. The game has not been was declared the champion of the Charlotte Classic Sun- rescheduled. day after tournament officials The Jayhawks (3-0) will canceled the championship play Mississippi Valley State at 2:30 p.m. Friday in game in advance of rain and Starkville, Miss. thunderstorms.

confidence.” Robisch, 62, who lives in Springfield, Ill., is thrilled the Jayhawks are tied for first place in the league (with 12-2 Missouri) with four games to play. “Coming in, with the players they lost, everybody was a little uncertain of what would happen,” Robisch said. “They’ve really started to play well. Coach (Bill Self) does a good job getting them to improve as the season goes on. Withey is a big key. He has come on strong. Last year he didn’t get to play much. Thomas didn’t get to play much. Those guys have come on and are playing great.”

— Former Kansas All-American Dave Robisch on the 2011-12 Jayhawks

the final two rotation spots. Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy are considered the front-runners, but they’ll have to out-perform Luis Mendoza, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery and a host of others. Paulino was 4-6 with a 4.26 ERA after joining the Royals rotation mid-season, while Duffy went 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA as a rookie. Both have shown flashes of brilliances, but both also had trouble pitching late into games, which in turn taxed the bullpen. Mendoza was a revelation in the minors, going 12-5 with Triple-A Omaha. He was 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in two starts after a September call-up. Crow was the Royals’ lone All-Star selection as a rookie reliever, and although he seemed to regress in the second half last season, the former first-round pick will get a long look at the rotation. So will Montgomery, who spent all of last season in the minors. Eiland said he spent “many, many hours” watching video of Royals pitchers in the offseason. If he can figure out a way to coax the starters deep into games, it should take some of the load off a talented bullpen that seemed to wear down late in the season, and just maybe give Kansas City the support it needs to challenge for a division title. “I saw a lot of good, impressive arms,” Eiland said. “It’s about consistency, pitching to win and not pitching to survive.”

(Okla.) Memorial High, who attended Saturday’s game, has received scholarship offers from Memphis, Oklahoma and San Francisco, according to He also has received interest from KU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and others. “I really like the coaching staff, and it seems they get along well with the players,” Woodard told “Coach Self was real honest with me and my family. He said that he likes me a lot and he likes my game. Coach Self thinks that I can be one of the next point guards that move in and run the team.” Woodard is currently ranked No. 122 in the Class of 2013. He scored 29 points versus Edmond Santa Fe High in a game Self attended earlier this season.

league play. Kentucky is second at 962. Here are other Big 12 teams’ marks in conference play: Texas, 822-529 in 106 seasons; Missouri, 760-634 in 106 seasons; Kansas State, 695-633 in 108 seasons; Oklahoma, 695-549 in 105 seasons; Oklahoma State, 675-498 in 103 seasons; Texas A&M, 656-709 in 100 seasons; Texas Tech, 621-494 in 87 seasons; Baylor, 563819 in 106 seasons; Iowa ! State, 549-804 in 105 seaMore on milestone: sons. KU has won a na! KU’s victory over Texas tion’s best 54 conference Next: KU will meet Tech marked the Jay- titles. Texas A&M at 8 p.m. hawks’ 1,000th conference ! Wednesday at Reed Arevictory against 396 defeats Woodard’s visit: Jor- na in College Station, spanning 114 seasons. No dan Woodard, a 6-foot, Texas. The Aggies enter other team in the U.S. has 175-pound junior point 13-13 overall and 4-10 in from Edmond the Big 12. reached 1,000 victories in guard

Lawrence Journal-World 02-20-12  

Daily Newspaper

Lawrence Journal-World 02-20-12  

Daily Newspaper