KANSAS CITY: Kansas City Royals journeyman Edinson Volquez, pitching for his fourth team in three seasons, was named on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) to face New York Mets ace Matt Harvey in Tuesday’s World Series opener.
Volquez, a 32-year-old right-hander who sparked the Dominican Republic in a 2013 World Baseball Classic title run, is on his sixth Major League Baseball club in 11 years and ready for his debut in the best-of-seven championship finals.
“For me it’s a great honor, especially pitching at home. It’s a great feeling,” said Volquez, who went 13-9 this season with a 3.55 earned-run average and 155 strikeouts in 200 1/3 innings.
“I don’t have to do anything different than what I’ve been doing. I’ve got to stay focused. I’ve got to stay under control and pitch my game.”
Volquez spent his first seven seasons with Texas and Cincinnati before joining the San Diego Padres, whom he left in 2013 for the Los Angeles Dodgers before winding up in Pittsburgh last year and Kansas City this season.
Volquez will try to silence Mets slugger Daniel Murphy, who has set a major league record with home runs in six consecutive playoff games.
“He has been really good. He’s a great hitter,” Volquez said. “We have to make an adjustment with him. We cannot let him beat us.”
“When you’re on that kind of run like he is, he’s seeing the ball well,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You better execute pitches and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Harvey, a 26-year-old US right-hander who underwent “Tommy John” tendon replacement surgery two years ago, will pitch for the Mets in game one. He went 13-8 with a 2.71 earned-run average and 188 strikeouts in 189 1/3 innings this season after missing the entire 2014 campaign.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned, especially this year, is pitching and mixing different pitches and different locations, whereas before I’ve gotten away with just blowing it out, throwing 97, 98 (mph),” Harvey said.
“I think maybe between the long year and having surgery I think I might have lost a little bit of the velocity, so I really had to learn how to pitch a little bit more and be a little more crafty.”
There were fears he might miss the playoffs with season inning limits to ensure he did not damage his repaired arm, but Harvey is at 202 innings entering the World Series and counting.
“It’s probably feeling better than it did at the 100 mark,” Harvey said. “For me the season was obviously an extreme success.”
Yost on Monday named Johnny Cueto to pitch game two Wednesday with Yordano Ventura taking the mound for game three and Chris Young hurling game four.
“Volquez lined up perfectly for the first spot for us,” Yost said. “We wanted Johnny Cueto in game two because Johnny really feeds off the home crowd and we’re able to have Johnny in game two and game six (if needed) at home.”
Royals have experience edge
Mets manager Terry Collins said the Royals have an edge by having been through last year’s World Series despite losing to San Francisco in seven games.
“Certainly I think they have a little bit more of an advantage that they’ve been through this before, all the hoopla and jumping through all the hoops before the game starts,” Collins said.
“They’re a little more used to it than we are. I don’t know how that’s going to translate on the field, but certainly they’re probably a lot more comfortable with what’s happening.”
Yost downplayed the notion experience will matter as much as playmaking.
“I don’t see having a huge experience advantage over those guys, because it’s the World Series — anything can happen,” Yost said. “We didn’t have any playoff experience last year and we took it all the way to game seven. It’s about execution.” AFP
Schedule for Major League Baseball’s World Series between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets (best-of-seven): Game 1, Tue Oct 27: NY Mets at Kansas City, Game 2, Wed Oct 28: NY Mets at Kansas City, Game 3, Fri Oct 30: Kansas City at NY Mets, Game 4, Sat Oct 31: Kansas City at NY Mets, Game 5, Sun Nov 1: Kansas City at NY Mets (if necessary), Game 6, Tue Nov 3: NY Mets at Kansas City (if necessary), Game 7, Wed Nov 4: NY Mets at Kansas City (if necessary).