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FHSU's Keehn wins second MIAA title in track -3/2/2015, 10:28 AM

Wessel continues to spark Shockers -3/2/2015, 10:28 AM

Ronda Rousey's fast work, like at UFC 184, a big draw -3/2/2015, 10:28 AM

Minnie Minoso's love of baseball never waned -3/2/2015, 10:28 AM

FHSU wrestling sending four to nationals -3/2/2015, 10:28 AM

Kansas State rallies late to put away Iowa State -3/1/2015, 9:33 AM

No. 8 Kansas holds on to defeat Texas, 69-64 -3/1/2015, 9:31 AM

Wichita State captures MVC crown by beating Northern Iowa -3/1/2015, 9:30 AM

Ellis' Younger cruises through Friday at 3-2-1A -3/1/2015, 9:39 AM

Hays High's Deterding second in 4A -3/1/2015, 9:58 AM

Norton wins title with backside points -3/1/2015, 9:36 AM

Hoxie's Porsch repeats in 3-2-1A -3/1/2015, 9:43 AM

FHSU splits at Northeastern State -3/1/2015, 9:41 AM

HHS girls win on senior night -3/1/2015, 9:40 AM

HHS boys roll by Great Bend -3/1/2015, 9:39 AM

Class 3-2-1A State Wrestling finals results -2/28/2015, 9:37 AM

Tigers fall, need win to host first round -2/27/2015, 10:20 AM

Tiger women, MIAA champs, hang on -2/27/2015, 10:29 AM

Monarchs survive on senior night -2/27/2015, 12:17 PM

With KU back in control, Jayhawks prepare for 'high drama' -2/27/2015, 10:19 AM

Nino Williams takes long road to success at Kansas State -2/27/2015, 10:18 AM

Sub-state basketball pairings -2/26/2015, 10:37 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Younger part of youth movement for Railers -2/26/2015, 10:48 AM

Big 12 reprimands K-State after court-storming -2/26/2015, 10:53 AM

Hays High's top four headed to Salina -2/26/2015, 10:36 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- HDN area state qualifiers -2/26/2015, 10:48 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Porsch seeks a repeat in state finale -2/26/2015, 10:49 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Freshman Hutchinson leads young group of Redmen -2/26/2015, 10:49 AM

3-2-1A wrestling -- Norton steps up again to have shot at 3-2-1A state crown -2/26/2015, 10:50 AM

Shockers fight past Indiana State, set up big Saturday -2/26/2015, 10:27 AM

Rhoades back at state -- this time in 4A -2/26/2015, 10:36 AM

TMP survives Plainville -2/25/2015, 11:26 AM

K-State issues apology -2/25/2015, 10:22 AM

HHS swept at Dodge -2/25/2015, 10:22 AM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -2/25/2015, 10:21 AM

Royals still hoping for Starling to break out -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

Penske revels in Logano's victory at Daytona 500 -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

Wildcat's win throws a roadblock at Jayhawks -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

KBCA prep basketball rankings, Feb. 23 -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

Wildcats get it done -2/24/2015, 10:22 AM

No-name Hahn wins Northern Trust Open -2/23/2015, 10:24 AM

FHSU softball splits on Sunday in Minnesota -2/23/2015, 10:15 AM

Logano wins first Daytona 500 -2/23/2015, 10:15 AM

Lutz: VanVleet has another day to remember -2/23/2015, 10:14 AM

VanVleet takes Wichita State's assists title in win -2/23/2015, 10:14 AM

'Cats seek confidence before game with KU -2/23/2015, 10:14 AM

Perry Ellis, No. 8 Kansas rebound from loss, beat TCU -2/22/2015, 12:47 PM

Baylor drills K-State -2/22/2015, 12:48 PM

Monarch girls run away from Stockton -2/22/2015, 12:38 PM

TMP wins physical game at Stockton -2/22/2015, 12:39 PM

Mathews all-state for HHS -2/22/2015, 12:48 PM

HHS wins at Garden, jumps back into WAC race -2/22/2015, 12:41 PM

Wrestling roundup -- Hays High sends four to 4A state -2/22/2015, 8:19 PM

Victoria puts together complete game in win at Ness City -2/22/2015, 12:40 PM

HHS girls fall down early, lose at Garden -2/22/2015, 12:39 PM

Earnhardt Jr. makes Duel history, Patrick qualifies -2/20/2015, 10:19 AM

HHS sends relays to state -2/20/2015, 10:19 AM

Tiger baseball takes two from UCM -2/20/2015, 10:19 AM

Gene Stephenson says he's filed his own appeal -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

TCU takes out K-State -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

Bohuslavsky keys win for Tiger women -2/19/2015, 10:59 AM

Tiger men rally for MIAA win -2/19/2015, 10:13 AM

Tiger women No. 1 in Central Region -2/18/2015, 5:04 PM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -2/18/2015, 11:22 AM

Barton's Hensley named Player of the Week -2/18/2015, 10:24 AM

TMP boys win, girls fall in Great Bend -2/18/2015, 10:24 AM

K-State hopes to build some momentum at TCU -2/18/2015, 10:24 AM

Two in a row for HHS girls -2/18/2015, 10:47 AM

Hot early, HHS boys get win at Abilene -2/18/2015, 10:47 AM

All is possible at Daytona -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

WVU tops Jayhawks in wild finish -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Chiefs can find impact receiver in NFL draft -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Chargers set sights on LA, push San Diego officials for action on stadium -2/17/2015, 10:27 AM

Defense a constant for Shockers -2/17/2015, 10:26 AM

FHSU, UCM series moved to Hays -2/16/2015, 10:55 AM

KU prepares for full-court press -2/16/2015, 10:17 AM

Foster lifts Kansas State past Oklahoma on Saturday -2/16/2015, 10:16 AM

Three Tigers crowned MIAA champs -2/16/2015, 10:16 AM

Bowyer, after crash, slams qualifying format -2/16/2015, 10:16 AM

Phillipsburg girls knock off TMP at the buzzer -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Hays High girls snap losing skid -2/15/2015, 2:21 PM

Hays High stunned by Liberal at the buzzer -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Tiger women's streak halted at Pitt State -2/15/2015, 10:26 AM

Tiger softball 1-3 to start season -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Tiger men fall at Pitt -2/15/2015, 7:54 PM

Tigers drop to 0-2 with losses to Mines, Regis -2/15/2015, 1:10 AM

KU coach kicks off tour in Hays -2/13/2015, 11:10 AM

K-State guard Johnson laughs off hecklers at W. Virginia -2/13/2015, 10:13 AM

The Tigers' do-it-all Shaw -2/13/2015, 11:10 AM

Samac staying on court, providing big games for Tigers -2/13/2015, 11:09 AM

Wichita State baseball players see winning as antidote to distractions -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

Royals, Herrera agree -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

Royals purchase contract of Derek Gordon -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

KU's Ellis near 1,000 points -2/13/2015, 10:12 AM

Hoxies' record just a matter of time? -2/12/2015, 3:26 PM

New coach, new season for FHSU softball -2/12/2015, 11:25 AM

Tigers look for better pitching in 2015 -2/12/2015, 10:14 AM

Shox roll to win -2/12/2015, 10:04 AM

Kansas State rally again falls short at W. Virginia -2/12/2015, 10:04 AM

FHSU wrestling rolls to dual win -2/12/2015, 10:04 AM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

Click To View All


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SPOTLIGHT
Key to the Royals' playoff push

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Key to the Royals' playoff push

Published on -8/22/2014, 9:56 AM

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By Andy McCullough

McClatchy-Tribune

The youthful pillars propping up the Royals crossed paths Wednesday afternoon. With a hoodie covering his head, Danny Duffy lounged on a clubhouse couch a few hours before his 20th start of 2014. Yordano Ventura strutted past the couch, paused at his locker and ventured back into the trainer's room to prepare for his 24th start of 2014 on Friday in Texas.

The formula for the Royals' ascension to the top of the American League Central involves elements from each portion of the roster. The late-game trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland is suffocating. The outfield defense appears impenetrable, and Alex Gordon will merit MVP consideration. The late-season resurrections of Billy Butler and Nori Aoki have enlivened the offense.

Yet the least heralded and perhaps most crucial portion of the equation involves the reliability of the starting rotation. The current quintet has started 118 of the season's first 126 games. Bruce Chen began the season in the rotation and started seven games in all. The outlier is Aaron Brooks, who melted down in a spot start in Toronto. The consistency sustains this club.

"That's the utmost importance for every team," manager Ned Yost said. "You start losing your pitch, man, it's sayonara."

The core of the rotation exemplifies stability. James Shields has never been on the disabled list.

Jeremy Guthrie has thrown 200 innings in four seasons. Jason Vargas averaged 190 innings from 2010 to 2013.

The other 40 percent of the group was less predictable. Duffy, 25, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. Ventura, 23, opened the 2013 season in Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Together they have logged 273.2 innings this year.

Down the stretch, neither will work under a strict innings limit, general manager Dayton Moore said. He does not expect to shift either pitcher to the bullpen to save innings, either.

"Consistency in your rotation is crucial if you're going to have success," Moore said. "And both of those individuals have gone out there and went to the post every fifth day and performed."

The results are not always pretty. Duffy, 8-11 with a 2.53 ERA, suffered a mini-implosion, complete with a sudden grand slam, in a 5-2 defeat Wednesday. Ventura, 9-9, 3.48 ERA, coughed up a one-run advantage in his last outing against the Twins. He also experienced a health-related hiccup in May, when a valgus extension overload in his prized right elbow cost him a start.

Neither Duffy nor Ventura has ever completed a full big-league season. For the Royals, the trick will be keeping the pair performing well down the stretch. The bulk of this task falls on the shoulders of pitching coach Dave Eiland.

In the last few weeks, Eiland counseled the two to reduce their workload between starts. Duffy tosses his bullpen session a day later than usual. Playing catch the day after a start is no longer mandatory. Eiland estimated a third of their throwing had been eliminated, and "we've cut the volume and the intensity back a little bit," he said.

This is a common practice for a starting pitcher. Veterans understand spells of fatigue appear in mid-June and mid-August. Neophytes like Duffy and Ventura require guidance from their elders. For Duffy, two years removed from surgery, a preseason meeting with trainer Nick Kenney was instructive.

Kenney counseled Duffy to take his preparation more seriously. Duffy undertook his between-start activities with "more conviction," he said.

"I thought that I was maxing it out, but I wasn't mature enough to realize that there's another gear you have to kick it into," Duffy said. "Once you realize that in order to stay here, and that you want to stay here for a long time, you have to make the call to man up."

With Ventura, Eiland had to offer more nuanced advice. He had told Ventura all year long to perform his throwing exercises with less intensity, to protect his arm. He rebounded from his long physical setback, the elbow pain in May, with his trademark brand of 100-mph fastballs.

His consistency still revolves around his curveball. When Ventura commands the pitch, he can dominate opponents. Even when he lacks the proper touch on the breaking ball, his fastball allows him to survive. His biggest hurdle may be his youth, and lack of experience.

When he was 23, Vargas suffered sophomore-season regression with the Marlins. At the same age, his future teammates were in various stages of development and repair. Guthrie was a junior at Oregon State. Shields began his fifth season in the minors. Duffy landed on an operating table.

Ventura is in the majors at 23. He has not been a star. But he has still been a formidable memorable of the rotation.

"That's another testament to what Yordano's done this year," Duffy said. "Just turning into a man, on and off the field. We're all really proud of him. It takes guts. It takes a lot more than people think to turn it on that quickly, let alone turn it on at all."

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