KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost was about halfway through his postgame treatment with reporters after Thurs night's 6-3 loss to the Red Sox when a question came from a strange, raspy voice:

"Whaddya think about Willingham and Servant? Why ain't Butler within? You like Willingham for now better or ... ?"

It turned out that this wasn't the reporter but Joe Q. Fan, who wandered to the room and decided to participate in.

Yost chuckled but kept his cool and answered: "Yeah, Willingham continues to be giving us better at-bats. Billy'll oftimes be in there tomorrow, though."

It was not until Friday afternoon, however, that the real reporters bought the scoop on exactly why Billy Butler would be in Feb 5th night's lineup instead of Josh Willingham, exactly who had started five from the six previous games.

"Well, I knew that Willingham had blocked his groin after his last at-bat," Yost confided.

Sure enough, Willingham sustained the injury running in the seventh inning after hitting into a forceout. Exactly how bad is it?

"Medium. We're hoping to get him available to pinch-hit the next day or two," Yost said.

So there's the rest of the story for Joe Q. Fan.

"That's one of my enthusiasts, right there," Yost said which has a smile. "They want to know why Billy's not necessarily playing. It's one of the types that love me consequently passionately."

As it turned out, Butler went 0-for-4 in the Royals' 4-2 loss.

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NEW YORK -- The Phillies have a number of players available to industry, but many of those players tend to be owed big-time money.

The money has become an issue for teams.

But Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday morning on Sportsradio 94WIP that stuff has picked up before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Contract.

"Well, I never believe in anything being close until it's actually done and there's an agreement, but we've experienced a lot of dialogue, and actually newer and more effective and intriguing stuff provides popped up even in the last 1 day and maybe even in the last 15 several hours," Amaro told WIP. "There's a lot of different stuff that are happening. That said, My partner and i still view us as a team that could be very active. While doing so, you just don't know whether you will get to the finish line."

A.T. Burnett pitched poorly Monday, although has generated some interest, which includes from the Royals. Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo have been getting good looks. Cole Hamels is available, but it is nothing new that the Phillies are asking for a serious haul to get them to think about trading their expert.

One thing to remember: Most of the Phillies' high-priced masters are under contract through a minimum of next season, which gives them the pliability to trade them prior to Aug. 31 waiver deadline, if they clear waivers, or in your offseason. So the Phillies don't feel pushed to pull the trigger simply by Thursday.

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NEW YORK -- Manager Buck Showalter is anticipated to reveal his full United states League Division Series turn in the next few days, but this individual did confirm on Mon night that he will go with four starters.

Showalter, who joked that reporters should know who will start Game A single, will not pitch anyone in short rest and it appears to be all but official that right-hander Chad Tillman will get the ball initially. Showalter has the rest of the team's rotation for the regular season almost all lined up, but he wants to wait to check on a few things previous to divulging his plans. Sunday's finale are going to be mostly a bullpen game, since he wants to make sure absolutely everyone stays fresh.

"There will be a beginning," said Showalter of Sunday's online game. "It may be that somebody comes in as well as throws to one hitter. I simply think everybody needs to get the ball in their hand on On the. If someone has to pitch with Saturday, extended, that might change. We will be trying to win people games, but we will have got a starter from that six starting that game.

"We wish to pitch everybody in the 'pen with Sunday. I don't want them hanging out for more than three days. Same with situation players, I don't want to see them lounging around for six days and never play in Toronto. We've been trying to win games, trying to make sure everybody's ready, since I'm going to give everybody [Monday] completely off and we'll figure out Tuesday and Wednesday."

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BALTIMORE -- It would be tough to imagine Nick Markakis not in an Orioles uniform pick up. And after Thursday's latest batch of reports, it's looking a lot more like that's a scenario the actual O's won't have to worry about.

Markakis, a free representative for the first time in his career, makes it no secret that he wants to stay in Baltimore, and talks between his agent, Jamie Murphy, and the Orioles have chosen back up, according to multiple outlets.

The Orioles started negotiations with Markakis right after their loss in the United states League Championship Series, plus it appeared both sides were on the same page with regard to a long-term contract. But the negotiations have taken longer than expected in working toward any four-year deal that would keep the frequent in Baltimore through 2018.

The 30-year-old Markakis is coming down his second Gold Baseball glove Award-winning season, and he is a tranquil leader in the Orioles' clubhouse, taking over leadoff duties and priding himself with his durability in appropriate field. Markakis hit .276 in One hundred fifty five games last season, and the man is a lifetime .290 player in nine seasons inside Baltimore.

Orioles executive vice president of football operations Dan Duquette has said that re-signing Markakis wouldn't automatically take the club out of the running for Nelson Cruz, one of their other significant free agents, as Baltimore is getting ready to increase its payroll with this past season.

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ARLINGTON -- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto was supposed to begin Wednesday, but manager Ron Washington gave him the evening off after he grabbed 14 innings on Tuesday.

The Rangers remained encouraged that Soto was able to support that long after missing the 1st half of the season while dealing with surgery on his correct knee. He also missed fourteen days with a strained right groin muscle and has played only six games this season.

"I questioned him a couple of times how they felt and he said great," Washington said. "That's the reason why he's not playing today. They was supposed to go back-to-back [games]."

Tuesday notable the first time a Rangers catcher is behind the plate for Fourteen complete innings since 2011.

"I thought great, my legs thought good," Soto said. "I was surprised, the whole night I sensed really good. I feel like I am at full strength. I actually still feel like it's Springtime Training for me, I'm planning and everybody else is in midseason variety. But as far as my own strength, I feel like I am just 100 percent."

Soto was 1-for-6 on Tuesday with a big double in the Rangers' two-run seventh-inning move that tied the game. He or she is 2-for-13 since returning last Saturday from the groin injury. They are 6-for-24 in six games overall.

"My timing is a little off," Soto said. "I'm working with [hitting coach Gaga Magadan] trying to get the right path through the zoom. It's a matter of getting good pitches to hit."

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Iannetta has evolved into the day-to-day catcher, Albert Pujols is the first baseman, Howie Kendrick is in second, David Freese starts from third, Erick Aybar mans shortstop, Josh Hamilton is the still left fielder, Mike Trout is in middle and Kole Calhoun plays right.

The major designated hitter? Well, it is complicated.

The Angels have had a revolving door all year at DH -- or perhaps, as manager Mike Scioscia calls it, "the ninth bat," because he often uses lots of to give some of his position people a rest. It started with Raul Ibanez, after that merged into C.N. Cron and has been done by board since the start of August -- through Efren Navarro to Brennan Boesch to Gordon Beckham, who's generally inserted as the third baseman so that Freese can DH.

Ideally, Scioscia would ride a single bat at DH the rest of the period.

More likely, he'll continue to mix.

The list of candidates can be whittled down no further than four -- 2 right-handed hitters in Cron and Beckham, a pair of left-handed hitters in Navarro and Boesch. Through Aug. 1 through Wednesday, Cron has started four games, Navarro has begun 12, Boesch has started nine and Beckham (acquired from the White Sox about Aug. 21) has started 6.

"If it means that one guy truly steps up and begins swinging the bat, so be it," Scioscia said. "If it implies that somebody's gotta DH more to get off their feet, thus be it. If we have to combination, we'll do the best we can."

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TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie could be heading back to 2nd base -- at least part-time -- when he comes back from his right hamstring muscle injury, Blue Jays manager Bob Gibbons said on Saturday.

The 3 rd baseman hasn't played since Wednesday, when he left in the final inning against Philadelphia with a restricted hamstring.

Gibbons said he talked to Lawrie, who is expected to resume the lineup on On the, about having him participate in more second base while Juan Francisco's bat is needed in the selection. Francisco has been manning third in Lawrie's deficiency.

Lawrie has previously expressed the displeasure for switching coming from his regular position, though Francisco wielding a hot bat, the advance is necessary, Gibbons said.

"He said, 'I'm executing it for the boys, for the team,'" Gibbons said. "I tip my head wear to him. It's not a simple decision, but I think celebrate us stronger on selected days."

Gibbons admitted the team will miss some defense at the sizzling corner without Lawrie there every single day.

"Francisco, he's been pretty good there, but he's not Brett Lawrie," Gibbons explained. "And not many guys are."

Lawrie had been expected to do running workouts again on Saturday, and also Gibbons said he hoped the actual 24-year-old would be available on Sunday.

Francisco possesses hit .297 with three house runs and nine RBIs during the past 10 games, and has additional a noticeable punch to the core of the batting order.

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ST. LOUIS -- In what was merely a formality, the Cardinals exercised their group option on right-handed starter John Lackey for 2015. The organization's choice to retain Lackey for another period was never in question.

In fact, the reason that Lackey was so attractive to this Cardinals at the Trade Deadline happens because the Cardinals would inherit a binding agreement that included the team-friendly provision that locked Lackey in to earn the Major League minimum in 2015 if he missed considerable time due to injury throughout his five-year, $82.5 million contract together with the Red Sox.

Lackey ended up sitting out your 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

After being bought and sold to the Cardinals in July, Lackey confirmed that he would honor the final year of his commitment, even though he will make just slightly higher than $500,000 in 2015. He has already earned over $100 million over his 12-year Main League career.

The Cardinals acquired Lackey, 36, in a Trade Deadline offer that sent Allen Craig and also Joe Kelly to the Crimson Sox. The veteran right-hander made Ten regular-season and two postseason starts for the Cardinals, mixing to go 4-3 with a 4.12-15 ERA.

While the Cardinals had a few other players -- Jason Motte, Pat Neshek, Mark Ellis, A.J. Pierzynski as well as Justin Masterson -- officially join the particular free-agent market on Thursday, the corporation had no other contractual workforce options to weigh.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Kemp watched his / her young nephews running around a lively clubhouse Sunday morning from Camelback Ranch.

It wasn't a typical morning in the clubhouse, save to the spirited table-tennis matches. Bags as well as boxes were everywhere since players got ready to the trip to Australia for the team's season-opening series against the D-backs.

"Can't believe you are all leaving me!" Kemp shouted in mock despair. But Kemp will have plenty to maintain him busy as he proceeds his comeback from offseason ankle joint surgery.

Kemp will go through a Spring season Training, as manager Put on Mattingly put it.

"Now it's going to start over, it is going to start at the beginning of Spring Coaching, where he's getting the at-bats, playing in the games basically. More of a regular-player type of Early spring Training, where he's getting 10 at-bats off a guy bullying."

Kemp has been playing in Minor League games, batting, jogging the bases and actively playing the outfield. His next sport is scheduled for Monday after resting on Sunday.

Kemp is not the only Dodgers outfielder who will not be heading down Under. Carl Crawford will be placed on the actual paternity list and will remain behind, Mattingly confirmed.

Crawford also will always be playing in Minor League games during the next week. He or she didn't need to be included about the three-man exempt list for the Questionnaire travel roster because of the paternal leave. 

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ATLANTA -- Besides amassing a surprising great hit total thus far, the Leaders also are excelling in the art of making minimal contact: Bunting.

They moved into Saturday with 16 sacrifice bunts, third in the National League behind Miami and The usa. The Giants were especially effective with this skill inside Friday's series opener against Altlanta ga, as Tim Lincecum and Ehire Adrianza deposit successful sacrifices.

Giants third-base coach Claire Flannery, who doubles as the crew's bunting guru, pointed out the challenge Adrianza challenged. Everybody knew Adrianza was requested to bunt with runners upon first and second and no outs in the in 7th place inning. Yet he still completed his task.

"That's what we're working on since Spring Coaching, trying to create that tension in your mind," Flannery said Wednesday. "So the first thing you have to do on your way on the websites for is slow everything lower. Take a moment and do a few things that you know are the car keys for you to get a bunt down. Usually it's go with your attack zone, try not to get out of it and understand that the pressure's upon [the pitcher] when it's [runners on] first and second, nobody out or first and second, one out."

Flannery observed that refining this particular skill is a constant duty.

"They've worked hard at it and we need to continue to work hard at it,In he said. "It's one of those parts of the game where if you don't work on it, it'll come back and bite you real quick."