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Royals notebook | Use of two-seam fastball only one factor in Farnsworth’s success

CLEVELAND | Veteran reliever Kyle Farnsworth hesitates to credit the reintroduction of a two-seam fastball to his high-octane repertoire as the reason for the longest scoreless streak of his career.

But is it a factor? Sure.

“It’s something different,” he said. “It has a little more movement (than the four-seam fastball). I’m trying to mix it in a little more. Say a certain lefty comes up who I know is going to be first-pitch swinging, I’ll start him off with that and try to get a first-pitch ground out.”

Farnsworth owns a streak of 16 2/3 scoreless innings over his last 16 appearances, which dropped his ERA from 18.90 to 3.15. He also had a 16-game streak in 2005, while pitching for Detroit, but it covered just 13 innings.

The longest scoreless streak in his 11-year career, until now, was 14 1/3 innings over 13 appearances in 2005 for Atlanta.

“The two-seamer has helped,” pitching coach Bob McClure said. “It’s an easier pitch for him to locate down. You don’t have to be as fine with the two-seamer because it has movement.”

But McClure also points to a complete overhaul this year of Farnsworth’s mechanics, from where he stands to where he lands.

“His arm angle and his landing, for me, had a lot to do with his location,” McClure said. “That’s what we addressed in spring training. `Let’s get lined up. Just buy into this.’ He went through spring training, and it was a little rough at first, but it got a little more comfortable.

“By the time spring training ended up, he was pretty sharp and ready to go. He then ran into a couple of bad games, but he stayed with it.”

It was a rough start.

Farnsworth was 0-3 through his first five appearances after allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. Even so, he saw the potential of the new approach and resisted the impulse to return to his old ways.

“When you get older,” he said, “you have to make adjustments. Everybody can improve no matter how long they’ve been in the game. You’ve got to adjust. Everybody has to.”

Farnsworth hasn’t allowed a run since April 19, and his command has been impeccable: 16 strikeouts and just two walks in those 16 2/3 innings.

“It’s still a work in progress,” he said, “but it definitely helped a lot. The goal is to make me more aligned. If you’re off an inch on the mound, the ball can be off almost a foot by the time it gets to home plate.

“The difference there is if you’re trying to hit the outside corner, it might drift to the middle in. That’s how much you can miss by. I’m still working on it.”

Medical updates

Center fielder Coco Crisp went one for three after returning to the lineup for the first time since Friday and is tentatively scheduled to play all three games in the series.

“He took batting practice, only right-handed, two days ago in Toronto,” manager Trey Hillman said. “He felt good, and he took some of the best right-handed swings I’ve seen from him. I think the time off that we gave him should be productive.”

•Right-hander Sidney Ponson threw for the first time since a strained right elbow forced him to the disabled list after a May 29 appearance against the White Sox. He made 45 throws from flat ground and is tentatively scheduled Thursday to get on a mound in a bullpen workout.



•Two other injured right-handed relievers, Robinson Tejeda and Doug Waechter, are continuing their throwing programs in Surprise, Ariz. Neither has yet faced hitters in extended spring training. Tejeda is recovering from tendinitis in his right rotator cuff; Waechter is recovering from a strained left oblique.



•Catcher John Buck remains restricted to non-baseball activities because of a herniated disk in his lower back.



Goodbye to Ramirez

The Royals asked unconditional release waivers on veteran left-hander Horacio Ramirez after every other team passed on the chance to pick up his $1.8 million contract through regular waivers.

The move follows Saturday’s decision to designate Ramirez, 29, for assignment. He was 0-2 with a 5.96 ERA in 19 games.

All-Star update

The latest American League balloting update for the All-Star Game again produced no love for the Royals. None of their players were listed among the top five players at any position, including none among the top 15 outfielders.

There is no balloting for pitchers.

In-stadium balloting ends June 28, but online balloting continues through July 2. The All-Star Game is July 14 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

'All-Stars Among Us'

The Royals have their three finalists in the “All-Stars Among Us” campaign sponsored by Major League Baseball and People magazine that seeks to honor individuals who serve the community in extraordinary ways.

Three finalists were selected from each club through online submissions. An online vote through June 24 at www.peopleallstars.com will choose the winner from each club. All 30 winners will attend the All-Star Game in St. Louis and be recognized for their service.

The Royals’ three nominees:

•Leslie Barrett of Great Bend, Kan., who started a group called Military Moms, which has sent more than 1,800 gift boxes to men and women fighting overseas.



•Anne Hull of Leawood, who, as the mother of two sons with development disabilities, launched the Heartstrings Community Foundation in 1999. The foundation offers job placement to adults with developmental disabilities.



•John Lair of Pittsburg, Kan., who started a Special Olympics team in 2001 that has grown to be the best in the state. He volunteers more than 600 hours a year to Special Olympic and has coached world champions in Special Olympics.



Looking back

It was three years ago Wednesday — June 10, 2006 — that outfielder Reggie Sanders hit a home run against Tampa Bay’s Chad Harville at Kauffman Stadium and became just the fifth player in Major League history to reach 300 homers and 300 stolen bases in a career.

The Royals lost the game 9-5 and fell to 16-44.

The four other 300-300 players at the time were Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, Andre Dawson and Barry Bonds. Steve Finley reached the dual milestone later in the 2006 season.

Etc.

•Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop and went three for three with a career-high three steals. He now has 11 steals this season; his career high is 16 in 2006.



•The Indians are out of last place for the first time since losing on Opening Day.



•David DeJesus’ triple in the third was his fifth of the season, which ties Crisp for most in the American League. The Royals’ 22 triples as a team are the most in either league.



•Brian Bannister had a streak of 16 straight scoreless innings at Progressive Field before allowing four runs in the sixth. Only one run was earned.



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