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Egypt is free; Pujols a Royal?

On Thursday, “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” online columnist Jeff Gordon wrote a piece suggesting Albert Pujols and the Kansas City Royals could be a great match when, and if, Pujols becomes a free agent after the 2011 season.Pujols in Kansas City? Say it ain't so.He wasn’t kidding.

He made the point that the Royals have several of their biggest contracts off the books now, with more to come. He noted Kansas City’s youth movement, which will result in several low-paid but potentially high-performance players coming on board in the next couple of seasons.

He theorized that Kansas City could view Pujols as the glue to what the Royals are trying to do, which is build a contending team via a strong farm system and smart free-agent acquisitions and trades.

But Pujols isn’t going to demand anything less from the Royals than he’ll demand from the St. Louis Cardinals or any other team that could potentially pursue him as a free agent. Is Kansas City willing to give Pujols a 10-year deal for in the ballpark of $300 million.

If so, it would be unlike anything the Royals have ever done.

Pujols went to high school and junior college in Kansas City, which is where he met his wife. He trains in the area during the offseason. He knows KC, no doubt about it.

But Pujols in a Royals uniform? I’ll have to see it to believe it. And then I probably still won’t believe it.

Paying Pujols $30 million a year would be a risky proposition for Kansas City. What happens, then, when those young guns coming up through the farm system reach arbitration eligibility or become free agents?” How many could the Royals keep? Who might have to be let go?

I think it’s a real reach to think Pujols could be a fit for the Royals, and vice versa. But until he puts his John Hancock on a Cardinals contract (please, please, Albert – just do it), anything is possible, I suppose.

Shock Talk

Charlie Lowell I LHP I BaseballCharlie LowellLowell is a guy for Wichita State. He’ll start the season as the No. 2 starter behind senior Tim Kelley, but could easily turn out to be the Shockers’ best pitcher. He has it all, from the frame (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) to the stuff. And, unlike last season when he missed a good chunk of the season, he’s healthy. Lowell was named the best prospect in the Jayhawk League last summer while pitching for the El Dorado Broncos and looks like a guy who could go in the second or third round of MLB’s June draft. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Or are we? Juniors such as Lowell (who was taken in the 27th round by the Texas Rangers out of high school, always have the draft in the back of their minds.

Q: So, Charlie, with the draft looming are you going to be able to put it out of your mind?

A: I’m going to try. I want to approach this year like I approach any other year and at the end of the year maybe I’ll have a chance to get drafted and go play pro ball. But, yeah, it’s hard to stay completely focused or at least to keep your mind off the draft.

Q: You grew up in Old Monroe, Mo. That just sounds like a small town.

A: It is. It’s 35 miles northwest of St. Louis and in our city limits there are 250 people. I know them all, pretty much.

Q: What’s the best thing about growing up in a small town?

A: Basically it’s getting to go outside and ride your four-wheeler around and shooting a gun from just outside your back door. There are pretty much no rules like there are living in a big city. There’s a lot more freedom.

Q: I’m going to assume you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan? If so, are you nervous about the negotiations with Albert Pujols?

A: Yes, I am a Cardinals fan, completely. And I really hope they can sign him. He’s got six days left to make a deal or something like that. They need him, but it’s a business thing. I kind of understand where players like him are coming from. He’s just trying to look out for himself.

Q: I hesitate to ask, because I know your answer. But how much has WSU pitching coach Brent Kemnitz helped you?

A: He’s taught me everything. It’s true. I’m 5,000 times better today than I was when I got here on my first day of my freshman year. It’s not even comparable. I came here with a bad brain and I came here with one pitch and now I think I’ve pretty much got my brain straightened out and my pitching, my stuff and my control, have gotten so much better.