Mailbag: What's in a player's number?

Mailbag: What's in a player's number?

I noticed that John Buck changed his number. Any reason? Or just time for a change? -- Michael L., Lee's Summit, Mo.

Buck switched from No. 2 to No. 14 as a memorial gesture for his brother, Paul, who was born on April 14. Tony Graffanino wore No. 14 last season before he was traded.

Typically, Buck thought about fans who already had collected his T-shirts or jerseys with No. 2 on them.

"I debated it, but I thought they'd understand about my brother," Buck said. "When I'm wearing 14, I feel real good about it."

In a recent Mailbag, when asked about the Royals' running game, no mention was made of newly acquired Esteban German. Why not?
-- Ed J., Independence, Mo.

Good question. German should provide speed off the bench. Last year for Triple-A Oklahoma, he stole 43 bases in 49 attempts and scored 103 runs in 117 games. German, the top candidate to be infield backup, should see some time at second base, third and shortstop.

What ever happened to former Royal Carlos Febles?
-- Jarred J., Ozark, Mo.

Febles has re-signed with the Royals and will be in their Minor League camp. After having leg surgery, Febles will test his ability around second base. In the long range, the Royals want Febles to be a coach or an instructor.

What is the Royals' theme song that is played in the background of commercials, the radio and RSTN a lot?
-- Ronnie H., Omaha, Neb.

That ditty is called "Summer Highways" and was purchased by the Royals.

The Royals Hall of Fame is a major sore point for me. Why are general managers Cedric Tallis and John Schuerholz not in it? Why did Charlie Leibrandt, Darrell Porter, Al Cowens, Steve Balboni and Bo Jackson never receive consideration?
-- Mike A., Ames, Iowa

Uniformed personnel are voted on by a committee formed of ex-players in the Hall of Fame, media members, Royals officials and Royal Lancers boosters. They must receive 75 percent of the vote to be elected. The players you mentioned were considered but none even came close to election.

Officials such as Tallis and Schuerholz must be chosen for the Hall by the ballclub.

Pitcher Mark Gubicza was picked by the committee after being on the ballot for several years. He'll be inducted on July 21.

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How is it possible that the Royals have to play six road games against both the Red Sox and the Yankees whereas the rest of our division only plays three games against these premier teams?
-- Sal M., Kansas City, Mo.

This is done on a rotating basis, according to David Witty, Royals vice president of communications and marketing. This year the Royals got nine games (instead of six) against each of those clubs but were able to snag just three games each at Kauffman Stadium. Naturally, because these would be big-drawing series, the Royals were upset. If they get nine games again next year, they'll lobby for six home games each against the Yanks and Red Sox.

If the Royals understand their fan base, why would they ignore rather than embrace the fans' pining for powder-blue uniforms?
-- Brian A., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Wow, did I get a drubbing on my anti-powder blue stance. Believe me, the Royals are well-aware of the fans' love of this throwback to glory days. They decided this year to have another go with black as the alternate road jersey. But, you know what, I wouldn't bet against powder blue in 2007.

Why is it that fans in Arkansas cannot watch RSTN?
-- Nick S., Kansas City, Mo.

Witty says the Royals reached an agreement on 14 games in northwest Arkansas. However, they weren't able to get together with cable companies on the 100-game package. Nor could they work a deal in either Iowa or Oklahoma. The Royals are continuing to work on it.

Who will be the Opening Day starter at first base -- Doug Mientkiewicz, Mike Sweeney or Matt Stairs?
-- Shawn S., Ames, Iowa

That's a long way down the road. But the best guess now is Mientkiewicz at first (for his glove), Sweeney at designated hitter (for his bat) and Stairs in the dugout (as a pinch-hitter). That's just for Opening Day. After that, as manager Buddy Bell has noted, any combination is possible.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.