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Royals notebook: Greinke says he wants to pitch for Kansas City in playoffs, not Yankees

NEW YORK | The question was inevitable Tuesday afternoon as Zack Greinke sat in the interview room at Yankee Stadium with the world’s most familiar sports logo as a backdrop.

This is the room where the Yankees always introduce their new acquisitions. So here it came:

“You’ve had great success this year, but you look across (that diamond) at this team, and they’re getting ready to go to the playoffs. Do you ever think, `I’d take less personal success to be able to pitch in the playoffs?’”

Greinke’s response was immediate.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “But I don’t want to pitch for New York in the playoffs. I want to pitch for Kansas City in the playoffs. It would definitely be a lot better being in the playoffs than not. That’s all you ever play for.”

The Royals arranged the news conference with Greinke, who doesn’t pitch until Saturday, in response to a heavy request by New York media members for interviews. He typically conducts interviews with out-of-town reporters only after he pitches.

Greinke also parried the question of whether he regretted not facing the Yankees, who own baseball’s best record, in either of their series against the Royals.

“For me,” he said, “the hardest teams to face are usually not the (teams filled with) power guys. I thought Boston was going to be tough. They had a bunch of lefties and a bunch of pure hitters. I think they more had a bad game against me than me having a good game against them.”

Greinke pitched six scoreless innings against the Red Sox in a 5-1 victory on Sept. 22 at Kauffman Stadium.

“The Angels are tough,” he said, “and I think the Twins are tough, too. You can pitch to (most) power hitters. But guys like (Mark) Teixeria and Joe Mauer, who don’t strike out and are power hitters, those are the tough ones.”

Of course, Teixeira does play for the Yankees.

DeJesus still absent

Outfielder David DeJesus missed a fifth straight game because of what club officials continue to characterize as “the flu.” DeJesus remains in Kansas City, although he could rejoin club this weekend in Minnesota for the season’s final series.

“He’s moving north,” manager Trey Hillman said. “He’s feeling better. I don’t know if the fever has totally dissipated, but it’s gone down considerably. I’m just glad the report is he’s starting to get better.”

Returning heroes

Infielder Tug Hulett and special-assignment coach Eddie Rodriguez rejoined the Royals prior to Tuesday’s game after helping the United States retain its World Cup title in Europe.

“I can’t even put it into words to express the pride and the emotions,” Hulett said. “We got a gold medal, a big trophy and the pride the goes with being able to say we won a gold medal for being the best team in the world.”

Hulett had a homer in Sunday’s 10-5 victory over Cuba in the championship game In Nettuno, Italy. Rodriguez served as the USA manager.

The Americans lost their first game in the tournament before winning 14 in a row.

“You go into every game being the favorite, being the team to beat,” Hulett said. “And when Venezuela beat us, it made the series for them. It’s hard to prepare for something like that.

“When you’re here in the States, you play every day and if you lose, well, you get them tomorrow. No. You lose out there, it’s a big deal. It was intense.”

Hulett batted .258 with seven extra-base hits while playing in 10 of the 15 World Cup games. He had one hit in 14 at-bats while playing in 12 games for the Royals from May 23 to July 5. He also batted .291 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 99 games at Class AAA Omaha.

“With David’s sickness,” Hillman said, “he gives us just a little more depth. Tug has great utility value. But he’s also been a model citizen and a great professional ever since we got him from Seattle.”

Minor details

One more detail from the World Cup:

Right-hander Matt Kniginyzky, a Royals prospect, was the best pitcher at the just-completed tournament after going 2-0 and throwing 18 scoreless innings in his three starts for Canada. He struck out 11 and walked four.

Kniginyzky, 26, was a 23rd-round pick in the 2005 draft. His success at the World Cup comes after going 5-10 with a 5.48 ERA in 26 games at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.

Remembering Quiz

Today marks the 11th anniversary of one of the sadder moments in Royals’ history. It was Sept. 30, 1998 that reliever Dan Quisenberry, at age 55, succumbed to complications resulting from cancer.

Quisenberry was the Royals’ pitcher of the year on four occasions, a three-time selection as an American League All-Star and a five-time winner as the AL Fireman of the Year.

The Royals inducted Quisenberry into their Hall of Fame a few months prior to his death.

Quisenberry was 56-46 with a 2.76 ERA and 244 saves in 674 games in a 12-year career from 1979-1990. He spent his first 10 years with the Royals and went 51-44 with a 2.55 ERA and 238 saves in 573 games.

Looking back

It was 20 years ago today _ Sept. 30, 1989 _ that Bret Saberhagen set what remains a club record by winning his 23rd game in a 6-1 victory at Oakland. Steve Busby held the previous record with 22 victories in 1974.

Etc.

•The Royals are 14-13 in September and need a victory tonight for their first winning month going 12-10 in April.•The Royals fell to 64-94 and now trail Cleveland by one full game in the battle to avoid last place in the American League Central Division. The Indians, 64-92, were rained out Tuesday and will play a double-header today against Chicago in Cleveland.•The Royals have just four victories in their last 29 games in New York.•The Yankees have 15 walk-off victories.•The Yankees are 31-7 at home since the All-Star break.



To reach Bob Dutton, send e-mail to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.

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