KANSAS CITY -- Royals fans joined in baseball's nationwide support of "Boston Strong" with a rousing rendition of the Fenway favorite, "Sweet Caroline," in the sixth inning on Saturday night.
The song hits home for the Royals, who were in Boston just after the Marathon bombing and during the city's shutdown during the successful hunt for the second suspected terrorist.
Smith gets the call to start night half of doubleheader
KANSAS CITY -- He's not Billy Sunday, the 1880s National League outfielder who became a famous evangelist, but the Royals have their own Will Sunday.
OK, it's really Will Smith, the left-handed pitcher who's being called up as the 26th player allowed for Sunday's doubleheader. He'll start the night game of the split twin bill against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
Smith was also the 26th man last Sunday when the Royals played two games at Boston. He sat in the bullpen, but wasn't used in either game.
So this will be the first Major League game this year for Smith, who made 16 starts for Kansas City and finished with a 6-9 record and a 5.32 ERA last season. He faced the Indians three times with a 2-1 record and a 5.63 ERA. The victories came 8-2 on May 29 when he went six innings and 5-3 on Sept. 22 when he went seven innings, giving up two runs each time.
Jeremy Guthrie will start the afternoon game of the first separate-admission, day-night doubleheader in Royals history. Being skipped is right-hander Luis Mendoza who, instead, will start on Wednesday night against Tampa Bay.
"Mendoza was supposed to throw the second game of this series," manager Ned Yost said. "If Mendoza was going to throw Sunday with Guthrie, that puts me in a bind on Wednesday."
He could have started Ervin Santana on three days' rest instead of the usual four, but decided against that as well as dipping into the bullpen.
"I could use Bruce [Chen] or [Luke Hochevar] but they're not built up for that right now," Yost said. "So we'll take advantage of the 26th man."
For Omaha this year, Smith is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts. He has 31 strikeouts against six walks in 22 innings, allowing 22 hits including one home run.
"He's been throwing well at Triple-A and they've got a bunch of left-handed hitters over there so it just all works out. Plus I feel good about bringing Will up and starting the game," Yost said.
"I thought he had a real good spring. If we hadn't have done what we did through the trades and signing Guthrie, he would've stood a real good chance of making this rotation. But there's just no room for him with the guys we've got."
Except on Sunday.
Yost eager to return to regular schedule
KANSAS CITY -- Before the Royals' game on Saturday night, Kansas City had six days off in the previous 12 days including three postponements.
"I've worn out two erasers on my pitching schedule with these rainouts and police actions," manager Ned Yost said.
The Royals experienced two rainouts, at Detroit and at home, and the Boston postponement because of the terrorist manhunt that shut down the city.
"It's a challenge," Yost said. "It's something you don't want to do, you want to get on a run, you don't want to play six games [seven, actually] in 12 days or whatever it's been. You want to go ahead and get some semblance of routine going every single day, but that's not been the case and you just adjust to it."
Yost believes the hitters have experienced the toughest time staying sharp because there's no continuity. At least the starting pitchers, except for Luis Mendoza, have been kept on a fairly regular schedule. But it's been difficult for the relief pitchers to get work because of the off-days and because the starters have been going deep into the games.
"You've just got to find ways to start sharp," Luke Hochevar said. "For me, I just throw off the mound as frequently as possible without going overboard. Just for a short amount of pitches and a high-intensity focus. Do that as often as you can."
Of the Royals' first 19 games, the starters went six or more innings 15 times.
"They've been doing great pitching," Hochevar said. "Everybody's been going deep and you don't want to complain about that. You've just got to find ways to stay sharp and if your number gets called, you're in there and you are sharp."
Hochevar had worked in just four games while closer Greg Holland got into eight.
"I know a lot of the guys were doing their stuff in the weight room on the road trip. Going in and doing a light jog or something, just to keep the body active. Doing light stretches and stuff," Holland said. "But, for me, being a bullpen guy we're kind of used to it. We might be playing 12 days in a row, but I might only be throwing in two or three. So, for me, it's getting to the field and just doing the stuff I normally do. So it's a normal schedule for me."
Still, all the down time has been very unusual.
"The days we get rained out and stuff, if we don't come to the field, my biggest thing is just getting up out of bed and being active a little bit. Whether it's walking around or going to get coffee or something. Because laying around in bed is not good for my back," Holland said.
Yost was tired of all the rest.
"There are not any positives because the players don't need rest right now," he said.
Royals suggest arrival time for doubleheader
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals made a suggestion for fans attending the first day-night doubleheader in Royals history on Sunday.
Fans attending the 7:10 p.m. CT game are encouraged to arrive at Kauffman Stadium no earlier than 5 p.m. After the ballpark is cleared of fans attending the first game at 1:10 p.m., the gates will re-open at 6 p.m.
There will be no Fun Run after the first game because the field must be prepped for the night game. However, the Outfield Experience will be open at no charge for all children during the afternoon game.
• James Shields' three wild pitches in Thursday's game at Detroit tied a club record. It was the 18th occasion, the first since Kyle Davies uncorked three on April 8, 2001, also at Detroit.
• Jeff Francoeur's two assists on the road trip give him 118 for his career, most by any player in the Majors since 2005 when he broke in with the Braves.
• The Royals began the delayed homestand with the American League's third-best pitching ERA, 3.27, and third-best batting average, .268.
• Billy Butler received his trophy for winning the Edgar Martinez Designated Hitter Award as the AL's top DH in 2012 before the game from manager Ned Yost.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.