TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, a former coach with the Royals, was glad to reunite with some familiar faces prior to Friday's series opener.
Gibbons, who spent three years as a bench coach for Kansas City from 2009-11, was greeted by many Kansas City players during batting practice, and briefly spoke about his time with the organization.
Kansas City was a team in transition when Gibbons was around, but he knew the club had a bright future with some of the young talent it had stockpiled.
"The one guy is Billy Butler, he's one of the best hitters in baseball," Gibbons said, when asked who he was most impressed with. "Alex Gordon in left field -- when they moved him to the outfield from third base, he really took off.
"Eric Hosmer was a rookie when I was over there and now he's one of the best first basemen you will find, and he can really swing the bat. They have a number of guys, [Alcides] Escobar is arguably one of the best shortstops in the game."
Pitching wasn't the Royals' biggest strength when Gibbons was in Kansas City, but this year's club has the best team ERA in the American League at 3.50.
Gibbons knows his Blue Jays are in for a tough series.
"They had a good bullpen back then, what was missing was the starting pitching," Gibbons said. "But the three guys they brought in, [Ervin] Santana, [James] Shields and [Jeremy] Guthrie, have done a nice job for them.
"It's a good ballclub, and I know most of those guys over there. They have a nice little team."
Bonifacio makes impact in return to Toronto
TORONTO -- Utility man Emilio Bonifacio returned to Rogers Centre on Friday night for the first time since the Blue Jays traded him to the Royals on Aug. 14, and was booed each time he stepped to the plate.
Bonifacio, who batted in the two-hole and started at second base for the series opener, appeared a bit surprised by the crowd reaction but said it didn't bother him.
"I don't even think about it," Bonifacio said after the Royals' 3-2 loss. "I know that things didn't go the way I wanted them to, but at the end I just give my 100 percent every day. It's something I can't control."
Bonifacio, who struggled during his brief stint with the Blue Jays, went 1-for-3 with a run batted in and a stolen base in Friday night's loss. He plated a run with a sacrifice bunt in the eighth and appeared to beat the ball to the bag, but was called out by first-base umpire Will Little.
On defense, Bonifacio made a throwing error in the first inning, which led to starter Ervin Santana being charged with an unearned run.
Since joining the Royals, Bonifacio -- who hit .218 for the Blue Jays with 12 stolen bases and was used sporadically -- has found new life.
The Dominican Republic is batting .286 with a .375 on-base percentage and is 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts.
Bonifacio said he didn't want to make excuses about what went wrong in Toronto, but admitted it was difficult to produce without consistent playing time. He's still playing all over the diamond in Kansas City, but is more of an everyday player.
"First of all, I have been getting more time and getting the opportunity to get my timing back, that's the main thing," Bonifacio said. "I feel pretty good at the plate. It was a little bit hard playing one day and then not.
"But I gave 100 percent every time [the Blue Jays] needed me. I know it's a long season. I just kept working hard and tried to get better every day."
The Blue Jays have a large Dominican presence on their team, so Bonifacio always felt at home in Toronto, developing close relationships with players such as Jose Reyes and Esmil Rogers. But the one thing that made the trade easier was knowing that he was going to get a chance to compete for a team in contention.
Kansas City had a five-game winning streak snapped on Friday night, but is still within striking distance as they trail by 6 1/2 games in the American League Wild Card standings.
"It's pretty exciting. You're having fun because you know you have to win with one month left," Bonifacio said. "Every day is about winning. We are having fun and enjoying it. Let's see what happens."
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said that Bonifacio was a player the Blue Jays insisted on getting before completing a blockbuster offseason trade with the Marlins, whom Bonifacio played with for four seasons.
It didn't work out for him in Toronto, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he's still pulling for Bonifacio.
"He's a guy you root for," Gibbons said. "It's early over there, but hopefully he has found a home. He's a guy you always root for because he's a quality guy, and he's very talented."
Royals Charities to host 5K run/walk at The K
TORONTO -- Royals Charities will host a 5K run/walk at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7 beginning at 8 a.m. CT that will take participants around the field.
Fans can register online at Royals.com/run for a fee of $35, but the number of eligible participants will be capped off at 3,500.
Participants will receive prizes, including a Hy-Vee Infield voucher -- valued at $18 -- which can be redeemed for a ticket to a Royals game from Sept. 8-22. Further, each runner will receive a commemorative T-shirt, plus food and drinks at the conclusion of the race.
The top male and female finishers will be awarded prizes, as will the top three finishers in each age bracket. Awards can be collected at Gate D following the race.
Fundraising is available for teams, individuals and schools. Prizes will also be awarded for the most money raised by a team, which must consist of at least five individuals, as well as individual participants.
• Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas returned to the starting lineup for Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays after missing three games due to a bout with strep throat.
Moustakas, who was batting .314 with four homers and 17 RBIs since the All-Star break entering Friday, batted sixth in the order.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.