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Royals look to continue winning ways

Royals look to continue winning ways

Royals left-hander John Bale gives credit for his offseason weight loss to his wife, Genevieve.

"Eating my wife's food was the big thing. She never cooks anything unhealthy at all, but before I was sneaking in some fast food here and there. I cut that out and I cut sodas out. You'd be amazed how many calories you can cut from just your beverages," he said.

Knowing he'd get a chance to start if he lost weight, Bale turned to Genevieve, the sister of NHL player Vincent Lecavalier, a center on the Tampa Bay Lightening.

"She's French-Canadian, so she never cooks anything really greasy or anything like that. So everything is pretty healthy," he said.

Bale dropped 20 pounds and reported to camp in great shape. The lost weight helped him pitch well in Spring Training, and after working exclusively as a reliever last season, he won the No. 4 job in the Royals' rotation.

Friday's start against the Twins will be Bale's 10th in the Majors Leagues, and his first since Sept. 13, 2003, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds. In the interim, he has spent three years in Japan, making 30 starts and 76 relief appearances during that time.

"It hasn't really hit me yet, I guess," Bale said. "I'm just really excited to get where I'm at now. I'm just going to take it one day at a time [but] I'll definitely be psyched up for it on game day."

Switching to a starting role should come easy because he's done both throughout his career.

"It won't be a problem at all. I'm already built up to around a hundred pitches, so it shouldn't be a problem," he said.

Bale pitched well down the stretch in 2007. He didn't give up a run in his last six games. During a Sept. 9 outing against the Yankees, he struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings. After his strong September performance, pitching coach Bob McClure suggested that he might have a shot at the rotation if he got into better shape and lose weight.

Bingo. Genevieve whipped up nutritious meals in their Tampa, Fla., kitchen.

"She's a really good cook, excellent," he said.

Now there's a good husband.

Pitching matchup
KC: LHP John Bale (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Bale, signed as a reliever out of Japan, was so impressive down the stretch last season that the Royals tried him as a starter in Spring Training, and he won the No. 4 job. Bale impressed the Royals this spring with his ability to throw hard and straight recording 11 strikeouts against two walks in 14 2/3 innings. He faced the Twins four times in relief last season with no record and a 4.50 ERA. He gave up just one earned run in 4 1/3 innings in the Metrodome.

MIN: RHP Scott Baker (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Baker entered the spring as a legitimate top-of-the-rotation candidate. But a bout with the flu and a strained right lat muscle hindered his progress. Having faced the possibility of a DL stint due to his setbacks, the right-hander will have to continue to regain his stamina and stretch out at the start of the season. His first start comes against a team against which he nearly threw a perfect game last season. Baker is 3-2 with a 2.81 ERA in six career starts vs. Kansas City.

Crown Points

The Royals were 9-9 against the Twins last year including 4-5 at the Metrodome. The Royals have not won a season series since 2003, when they finished at 11-8. ... Baker took his perfect game into the ninth inning on Aug. 31 in the second game of a doubleheader. John Buck walked and Mike Sweeney singled for the only hit in his first at-bat since June 17. ... It was at Minnesota that manager Buddy Bell announced on Aug. 1 that he would not return in 2008. The same day the 1-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed and the series' final game the next day was postponed due to the tragedy.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• KCSP 610

Up next
• Saturday: Royals (Gil Meche, 0-0, 4.50) at Twins (Livan Hernandez, 1-0, 2.57), 1:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Royals (Brett Tomko, 0-0, 4.50) at Twins (Boof Bonser, 0-1, 4.50), 1:10 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day

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

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