07/09/2003 11:11 PM ET
Royals notes: Jack of all trades
Relaford big reason for Kansas City's success in 2003
ANAHEIM -- Last season Desi Relaford was named the Seattle Mariners Unsung
The way the 29-year-old veteran has been playing for the injury-plagued
Royals this season he might just add another honor to his resume.
Although "Unsung" might not be the category if you listen to manager Tony
"Desi Relaford is doing a great job for us," said Peña. "He's played in so
many different positions for us this year. As a manager I feel happy to have
one guy like him. I'm not afraid to play him at third, shortstop, second,
right field or left field. Those are five positions he's played for us. And
he's doing a good job. Not only has he played great defense, but also
offensively he's put up some good numbers."
Relaford has hit safely in 28 of his last 33 games -- .308 average
with 10 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 24 runs scored and 19 RBIs.
By Sandy Burgin / Special to MLB.com
Overall he is hitting .298 with six home runs and 38 RBIs. He started his
66th game Wednesday, playing third base for the 13th time filling in for the
ailing Joe Randa. He has started 39 games at second, four at short, and nine
in right field. He has also served as DH in one game and was a late-game replacement
in left field in another.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Relaford, who signed on with Kansas City as
a free agent in January.. "It's really easy to go out and play ball every day
when you like coming to the yard and like who you are surrounded by every
"It's a lot of fun out there in the field with the team playing great
baseball and that says a lot for what's going on with me personally,"
How did Relaford become so versatile?
"Growing up I was pretty athletic and played a lot of different sports and
played a lot of different positions when I played those sports," Relaford
said. "I guess being blessed that way contributed to being able to play
"There are points during the season where you don't know where you're going
to play," Relaford said. "For me that kind of keeps the game a little fresh.
You don't always know where you're going to be. You have to prepare
accordingly every day anyway."
Relaford was asked whether he has been surprised by the success of the
Royals this season.
"Just playing against them the year before I knew they had a good offensive
team," Relaford said. "I knew they could swing the bats with anybody. And
with the addition of some good pitchers that has been all the difference in
the world this year.
"Tony Peña and the way he runs the club has done a great deal for this
team," Relaford said. "I felt like we could do some things. I didn't know if
we could be in first place or not at this point. I'd probably be lying if I
said I thought we'd be leading the division, but I definitely thought we had
some talent. And depending upon the pitching, everything has turned out
"Last year was my first in the American League and I had to adjust to the
pitching change," Relaford said. "There is a little more offspeed stuff over
here (in the American League) and having to hit offspeed pitches on
fastball counts is the biggest difference."
Hernandez in, Randa out: Peña said that Runelvys
Hernendez (right elbow inflammation) would come off the DL Friday and make
the start against the Texas Rangers that night. He hasn't pitched since May
14 when he got beat by Minnesota. 7-0.
Joe Randa remained sidelined with a
muscle strain in his side. Peña said, "He's coming (along), but it's one of those
injuries you have to play the game of baseball to be able to talk about. As
an ex-player myself, I know that is the reason why I don't want to rush him
or anything like that. It could get worse and we could lose Joe Randa for
six weeks and I don't want that. But he's making some progress."
Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the
approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.