Three former Royals were elected in the fan vote to be starters in the All-Star Game. Who are they?
Most folks probably will immediately get Melky Cabrera, in Kansas City just last year and the National League's top finisher in outfield voting with a late push from Giants fans. And they'll surely get Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, a big Royals star early in his career. Beltran was second to Cabrera in the NL outfield.
But the third ex-Royal? Hmm.
Well, it was Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays' slugger who finished third in the American League outfield voting. Not many fans remember that Bautista was a Royal for a month during the 2004 season.
"Yeah, I was there a short period of time, but I remember it well. It's a nice city, a nice baseball-rich town, a lot of history. Not only with the Royals, but with the Negro Leagues and everything, so it's an area that's known for having good baseball played there," Bautista said. "So it's nice to see them having the All-Star Game and kind of bringing some of that magic back, because I know they haven't had it for a while."
That was a very strange rookie season for Bautista; he belonged to five different teams and played for four of them -- Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. The Royals purchased Bautista from the Devil Rays on June 28 and traded him to the New York Mets on July 30 for catcher Justin Huber. But Bautista never played for the Mets, because the same day they traded him back to the Pirates, the team that originally drafted him.
Bautista says he always looks forward to returning to Kansas City despite his brief stay.
"I enjoyed my time there. I had good teammates and had a good coaching staff. But sometimes in baseball decisions have to be made and I remember they weren't winning many games that year ... and [manager] Tony Pena was in the hot seat, so there was a lot going on. I didn't take it personally, but baseball moves have to be made. They had a hole at the position of catcher and they thought they were going to fill it with Huber, and I don't blame them for anything that happened with me," Bautista said.
" I felt like they treated me with respect and they always told me what was going on so I never felt like there was any backstabbing or secrecy to any of the things that were going on. I wish they could have given me more of a shot and I could've made a better impression, but I only had 25 at-bats and it's never enough for anybody to make a good impression."
Bautista, playing third base with Joe Randa injured, was 5-for-25 with one double and one RBI, hardly an indication of the home-run basher he became. So the Royals decided to deal him away.
"I was a Rule 5 pick out of [Class] A ball, so I didn't expect to come in and hit 20 home runs, but I don't think it had anything to do with the expectations they had of me, it was just maybe they felt they had other players in the positions that I played," Bautista said.
Now, eight years later, he's starting his second All-Star Game.