The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 16

Chicago White Sox vs. Kansas City Royals

Saturday, July 12, 1997 - 7:05pm

Kauffman Stadium

Kansas City, Missouri

Pre-Game Report
 The Royals are still getting used to the shake up in management this week in which Manager Bob Boone was replaced by a former Cubs third base coach. The White Sox are just beginning to taste the possiblity of a pennant race in the Central Division. If the White Sox can catch the Royals in transition they will win this one, but otherwise the momentum of change from the new manager will put the Royals over the top.

Stadium Stats - Kauffman Stadium

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 40,625
Dimensions: Left Field: 330 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Field: 330 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Sox's Logo

Chicago White Sox

 The Chicago White Sox collapsed at the end of the 1996 season, losing the wild card spot to Baltimore in the final weeks of the season. So, during the winter, owner Jerry Reinsdorf made some changes, including opening his wallet to make Albert Belle the highest paid player in baseball history. In the process however, Reinsdorf lost the bidding war for pitcher Alex Fernandez to the Marlins and was forced to sign Jaime Navarro to make up for the loss. Needless to say, the 1997 White Sox will have very different chemistry.

 The White Sox starting rotation has all the potential in the world, but a lot of questions waiting to be answered. Wilson Alvarez remains the key to the rotation, and is joined by Navarro, second year starter James Baldwin and Doug Drabek. But, Alvarez tired at the end of last season and may do so again, Baldwin's rookie successes may have been a fluke, and Drabek was terrible last season in Houston. The Sox are left to hope that one or two of the young pitchers in the bullpen will join Tony Castillo and Roberto Hernandez as consistent relievers.

 The combination of Belle and two-time MVP Frank Thomas is sure to make opposing pitchers nervous. But the White Sox have more talent hiding in the shadows. Both Robin Ventura, who set career highs in homeruns (34) and RBIs (105) while winning his fourth gold glove, and DH Harold Baines, are coming off their best seasons in years. And prospects Chris Snopek and Norberto Martin, who hit .350 last season in 140 at bats, give manager Terry Bevington lots of creative options for his lineup.

Royals Logo

Kansas City Royals

 Two season ago, the Royals finished thirty games out of the playoffs. Following that disgraceful seasons, the Royals restructured their roster to include a whole slew of young talent. While they didn't finish thirty games out of first place last season, they did finish in last place for the first time in team history. Now, manager Bob Boone, has three proven veterans to lead his young squad and the results should be noticeably better.

 Kevin Appier leads a solid starting rotation that includes Tim Belcher, Chris Haney, and Jose Rosado. Appier, who won 14 games, and finished third in the league in ERA and strikeouts despite bicep problems. Belcher outpitched Appier last season but is getting up in years, Rosado was sensational in his rookie season, and Haney has recovered nicely from last season's back surgery. The bullpen is going to be the problem, with closer Jeff Montgomery facing injury problems and his replacement Jaime Bluma lacking major league experience. And, with the release of Mike Magnante and the trade of Jeff Granger, the Royals will depend on youngsters Brian Bevil, Melvin Bunch and Ken Ray for middle relief.

 The off-season additions of DH Chili Davis, first baseman Jeff King, and shortstop Jay Bell will anchor the Royals offense. King ripped 30 homers and drove in 111 runs last season, Bell is coming off a career high number of RBI's last season, and third baseman Craig Pacqutte led the Royals last season in homers with 22. The outfield is young, with prospects Johnny Damon and Michael Tucker providing some offensive pop, and left-handed bats Tom Goodwin, Rod Myers and Jon Nunnally should open some eyes.

Post-Game Report
 The Royals extended their losing streak to eleven games with a loss to the White Sox on a sweltering day at Kauffman Stadium.

Check out all the details here, including my impressions of the stadium, batting practice, the team management I met, being up in the press box, the food, and the game and the fans.

Highlights from the City of Fountains

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