WASHINGTON -- Royals right-hander Brian Bannister, coming off a difficult start, gets the task of opposing Nationals rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg on Wednesday.
Manager Ned Yost took a light-hearted approach.
"Tomorrow's a day game and Banny's going to be locked in," Yost said merrily. "We've got that going for us."
Indeed, Bannister has that ballyhooed daytime record of 20-8 with a 3.97 ERA and this game will start in the late afternoon. On the night shift, Bannister is 16-35 with a 5.43 ERA.
After losing his second consecutive start last Friday night at Atlanta, Bannister unburdened himself saying he was "gun shy," had "zero confidence" and it was a "traumatic experience." That all carried over from an 11-run drubbing in his previous start at Cincinnati.
Yost doubts Bannister will continue to be affected against the Nationals.
"We come and start anew today," Yost said. "And if you want to carry baggage with you, you're going to have problems. But we'll find out. I don't think Banny is going to be affected by it. Banny hasn't gotten this far by carrying baggage with him over a long period of time."
Royals brace for Nats' Strasburg
WASHINGTON -- Now the Royals get to see if the hype and history are true about Washington phenom Stephen Strasburg. He'll pitch against the Royals in Wednesday's 3:35 p.m. CT game at Nationals Park.
Strasburg has a 2-0 record, 1.85 ERA and 32 strikeouts in just 19 1/3 innings of his three starts.
"Strasburg's got great stuff," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "You look at his numbers and he's striking out about two an inning. It'll be interesting to see him."
Naturally, the Royals have been noticing the Strasburg buildup.
"Talking to Willie Bloomquist about the day he made his debut, they had like a countdown to the game," catcher Jason Kendall said. "We were talking, 'What goes through this guy's mind as he's driving to the ballpark?' And you know, he lived up to it, but he seems like just a good, humble kid who wants to go out and help his team win. I mean, he didn't ask for any of that."
Because it's Strasburg, the game was added to the Fox Sports Kansas City TV schedule. The pregame show will start at 3 p.m. CT. In case you miss it, a rebroadcast will start about 6:45 p.m. CT.
"He's obviously a very good pitcher but also, in the same respect, we've got some pretty good hitters on this team. So we're going to go out there and stick to our approach and not be star-struck," said second baseman Mike Aviles.
"I mean, he's just another pitcher in the league, I guess. We're a pretty good hitting team and I like our chances against him. I know he can be overpowering from what we've seen in his couple starts but we've just got to go out and play the game."
Like Strasburg was last year, Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar was the nation's top Draft pick in 2006. His entrance into the Majors was less flamboyant. It consisted of three relief appearances and one start as a September callup in 2007.
"I think I was handled perfectly," Hochevar said. "It worked out good."
Asked about how well Strasburg seems to have handled his hype, Hochevar chuckled.
"It helps when you're throwing 100 miles an hour, though," Hochevar said. "When you know you've got 100 miles an hour in the tank, it's probably a little easier to handle."
Royals visit wounded soldiers
WASHINGTON -- Several Royals had a memorable and moving visit with wounded soldiers on Tuesday at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
"It was an awesome experience to get in there and meet some of our warriors, our soldiers," pitcher Luke Hochevar said. "Three out of the four soldiers that we got to meet were missing legs and another one had his arm blown up, all by IEDs.
"What was really neat about it was the outlook those guys had, the spirits that they were in. Every single one of them was talking about how they wanted to get healthy, get their prosthetic limb or whatever it was, so they could get back there with their platoon units and help them fight. Which is amazing."
Manager Ned Yost led a group that included Hochevar, Mike Aviles, Billy Butler and Willie Bloomquist to the hospital. They met with four soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
"It's a privilege to see how special these young men are. These are people that have had their legs blown off and their bodies are tattered and their mindset is positive and as uplifting as anything you can even imagine," Yost said. "It's very inspiring to go over there and spend time with those kids. They're just special people."
Yost began visiting Walter Reed when as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers he met Admiral Michael Mullen, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It gives Yost and his players a look at the reality of war, far removed from their lives as Major Leaguers.
"We live in a dream world here a little bit. We get catered to, these kids make a lot of money and go first-class everywhere," Yost said. "They get a chance to see there are people over there that give their life for them to have this opportunity and to keep us safe. It's an eye-opening experience and more than anything else how young [the soldiers] are. They're just outstanding individuals."
Hochevar was moved by the experience.
"It really lets you know how lucky we are and how blessed we are to live in this country to know we do have people like that that are fighting for us," he said. "They are some very strong individuals."
Parrish becomes free agent
WASHINGTON -- Left-handed pitcher John Parrish officially became a free agent on Tuesday after being released by the Royals.
Parrish cleared unconditional release waivers which the club requested last Wednesday. He was a success story in Spring Training and made the club as a non-roster player after missing all of the 2009 season after shoulder surgery.
He pitched in nine games with a 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA before encountering shoulder problems. He attempted an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Omaha but that failed.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.