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Royals notebook: Hurricane Ike draws Hillman's attention

MINNEAPOLIS | Royals manager Trey Hillman is keeping a close watch on Hurricane Ike even as his club prepares for one final test tonight against Cleveland’s Cliff Lee, the American League’s presumptive Cy Young winner.

The storm is racing toward the Texas coast near Houston and appears pointed like a dagger at the cattle ranch run by Hillman’s father-in-law, Tom Tigner, in Brazoria County.

“It’s bad,” Hillman said. “It’s probably going to hit dead center in my father-in-law’s ranch. They’re down there scuffling right now and moving all of the cattle to high ground.”

The ranch typically runs about 1,200 head of cattle.

Preparations are further hampered because Tigner, 78, is still recovering from recent heart-related surgery. He is a third-generation rancher who was wiped out when Hurricane Carla ripped through Texas in 1961.

“They had to start over,” Hillman said. “There are possibilities and predictions that this one is going to be just as bad.”

A general evacuation is in progress throughout the Houston area. Hillman said his sister-in-law is attempting to save as much of the family’s valuables and keepsakes as possible by loading up a single car.

Looks like Tejeda

Right-hander Robinson Tejeda is the tentative choice to start the second game of Saturday’s day/night double-header in Cleveland.

“He’s done it before,” Hillman said, “and he’s fairly well-monitored as far as what we’ve asked from him. The candidates to follow him would be (Kip) Wells, who can give us multiple innings. (Joel) Peralta might be thrown in there.”

Tejeda pitched primarily as a starter in his 10-year professional career before shifting this season to bullpen duty. He is 1-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 27 appearances but has a 3.31 ERA in 23 games since arriving from Texas.

More scouting changes

The Royals followed up their decision to fire scouting director Deric Ladnier by firing Spencer Graham as their West Coast regional cross checker. Graham had worked for the Royals since 2001 and was completing his second season as a regional cross checker.

Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said the organization would absorb the position because it still has three national cross checkers. Most clubs have one or two.

Vote for Buck

Catcher John Buck is the Royals’ nominee for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award sponsored by the players’ association. The award seeks to honor a player whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.

The field for 30 will be trimmed to be trimmed to six finalists — one from each division — through an online vote running through Sept. 17. Fans can vote for Buck or any of the other nominees by logging onto www.MLBplayers.com.

Buck is involved in projects ranging from Royals’ Gloves for Kids, the Challenger Little League for mentally and physically challenged kids, a charitable golf tournament, working with intercity kids in his hometown of Salt Lake City, and the creation of the Buckaroos foundation to allow underprivileged kids to attend big-league games.

Four ex-Royals are also among the nominees: Jermaine Dye (White Sox), Raul Ibañez (Mariners), Jeff Suppan (Brewers) and Mike Sweeney (A’s). Sweeney won the award in 2006 while playing for the Royals.

Minor details

Class A Burlington looked right-hander Alexander Caldera in hopes of taking a 2-0 lead Thursday night in the best-of-five Midwest League championship series against South Bend.

Caldera was 12-6 with a 2.89 ERA in 25 regular-season starts. The Bees rolled to a 6-0 victory in Wednesday’s opener behind six overpowering innings from Daniel Gutierrez and a three-homer attack. South Bend is an Arizona affiliate.

Thursday’s game was in Burlington, Iowa. The series continues Friday in South Bend, Ind. The fourth and fifth games, if necessary, will be Saturday and Sunday in South Bend.

Etc.

  • South Florida alum Ross Gload is picking his Bulls to beat Kansas 28-24 on Friday in Tampa, Fla. South Florida is favored by 3½ points.
  • The Royals have won four of their last five extra-inning games and are 7-6 overall.
  • Reliever Ron Mahay got his 400th career strikeout when he fanned Jason Kubel after replacing Brandon Duckworth with no outs and runners at first and second in the sixth.
  • Ramon Ramirez now has a streak of nine straight appearances without allowing an earned run.
  • John Bale has pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in four relief appearances since returning from the disabled list.
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