Oilers on thin Ice at goalie WEDNESDAY, JUNE>,2006 SPORTS THE HAYS DAILY NEWS MICHAEL AINSWORTH / Associated Press Fort Worth Cats right-hander Luke Hochevar pitches against the Pensacola Pelicans in a game earlier this season in Fort Worth, Texas. On Tuesday Hochevar was picked by the Kansas City Royals with the overall No. 1 pick of the draft. Royals go with Hochevar in draft By DOUG TUCKER ASSOCIATED PRESS KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After taking a closer look, the Kansas City Royals liked Luke Hochevar a lot more than they thought. Just days after senior scouting director Deric Ladnier said emphatically that Kansas City would not take the controversy-tinged right-hander witl},, the overall No. 1 pick, the Royals', desperate for pitching, did exactly that. "We said from the start we'd take the best pitcher available in the draft," Ladnier saidTuesday,' just minutes after announcing his selection. Kansas City is on pace to lose more than 100 games for the third straight year, and its minor league system is almost devoid of pitching prospects. "We didn't feel like there was a position player even remotely that would be in (Hochevar's) category," Ladnier said. "When it was all said and done, we took the best pitcher. We feel like with this young man we have a guy who is going to get here quickly." One reason the Royals figured to pass on Hochevar was their history with his agent, Scott Boras, whose refusal to come to an agreement forced them to trade star outfielders Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran. Boras also was the agent for pitcher Jeff Austin, the Royals first-round pick in 1998 who about 15 teams that wanted to draft him. We haven't talked any specifics about dollars and cents." Hochevar said he was "ecstatic" Kansas City picked him. "I'm ready to put my head down and work my tail off for the Kansas City Royals," Hochevar said. r signmg7Duruienrirever , oped. A year ago, Hochevar first agreed, then refused, to sign a $2.8 million offer by the Dodgers. Considered one of the top college pitchers in the 2005 draft, he wound up as the 40th pick because clubs worried about whether he would sign. However, the Royals went ahead and picked him in this year's draft after talking with Boras on Monday night and Tuesday morning. Boras said the two sides did not discuss contract specifics. "We didn't talk about that. I think everybody knew we had the top pitcher in the draft, the top value player in the draft," he said. "I think there were up trading star outfielders Damon and Beltran. Hochevar said he expected "a pretty quick negotiation." "It sounds like the Royals are ready to get it done. I'm getting ready. I'm up to a 100-pitch pitch count," Hochevar said. Hochevar, 22, most recently has been pitching for the independent Fort Worth Cats, where he was 1-1 with a 2.26 ERA in four starts and gained, he said, a wholly new perspective. "It opened my eyes to know how lucky I am, playing with guys who are scrapping to play a game they love, and to see how hard those guys work in the independent league," he said. "To be given this opportunity is extremely humbling. I just thank God for giving me the opportunity to even be in this situation and be drafted by a great organization like the Royals. I'm beside myself right now, to tell you the truth. He said he matured while with the Cats. "Going to Fort j perience. It let mel love the game and how much I missed it when I wasn't able to play." In 2005, Hochevar led Tennessee to the College World Series and was 15-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 19 starts. The Royals, who have based former draft decisions at least partially on how much they believed a player might cost, are gambling that neither Hochevar nor Boras will want to risk losing a second year from his career. "I had a conversation with him a little while ago. He's super excited, super motivated," Ladnier said. "I think he knows how important it is for him to get out and start pitching." SEE DRAFT, PAGE B2 Millwood pitches Rangers past Royals, 6-2 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kevin Millwood sure seems at home on the road. Millwood pitched seven strong innings Tuesday night to lead the Texas Rangers to a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals, improving to 5-0 on the road. "I don't know. I don't feel any different at home than on the road," he said. "It just so happens that I've won a few more games on the road." Millwood (7-3) gave up two runs and seven hits, throwing 109 pitches in his first outing in a week after taking a couple of days off with a stiff back. He appeared to get stronger as the game went on, retiring eight of his last nine batters with the only baserunner reaching on an error. Millwood struck out five, walked one and said he felt no ill effects from the back stiffness. "The back felt fine," he said. "Hopefully, it feels the same tomorrow." Francisco Cordero worked 1% innings for his fourth save. Brad Wilkerson hit a home run and doubled and played a role in two of the three rallies for the Rangers, who improved to 16-10 on the road and sent the Royals to their eighth straight loss at home. Texas started the scoring in the second on Wilkerson's 12th homer, a shot to center. The Rangers have homered in 44 of their 57 games. "Brad had a big blow to get us off the schneid," manager Buck Showalter said. "Brad had a couple of good at- bats." Scott Elarton (1-7) worked five innings for Kansas City, giving up four runs and eight hits. After Wilkerson's home run, the Royals tied it in the bottom half when Mark Teahen hit an RBI single. Then , they had the bases loaded, but Mark Grudzielanek lined out to right to end the inning. "We had some opportunities with the bases loaded and weren't able to execute," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "We've got to start swinging the bats better." Texas got three runs in the fourth. Two scored on Kevin Mench's double, which short-hopped the wall in left-center. The hit drove in Hank Blalock, who led off the inning with a single, and Wilkerson, who had a one-out double. After Gerald Laird walked, Ian Kinsler lined a single up the middle, scoring Mench. Laird went from first to third, but was tagged out when he overslid the bag. The Royals scored for the last time in the fourth, when Teahen hit his third homer. Denny Bautista relieved Elarton in the sixth but gave up a two-run homer to Kinsler. Larks win in opener BY THE HAYS DAILY NEWS DODGE CITY — Starting out the 2006 season similar to 2005, the Hays Larks blasted Dodge City in their season opener Tuesday night. Hays 15, Dodge City 4 Hayi(l-O) 222 322 110 — 15 22 2 Dodge City (5-7) 100 200 010 — 4 53 Murray, Johnson (3), Monterey (5), Grijalva (8) and Reynolds; Curlel, Weinberg (5), Rindels (6), Conwell (9) and Reeves. W — Murray (1-0). L — Curlel. 2B — Lawson, Goedert, Slovall, Hays. HR — Lawson, Chrisllson, Hernandez, Hays; Hicks, Dodge City. Hays pounded out 22 hits and scored in each inning but the ninth in a 15-4 blowout of the Desperados, playing in their second year. Hays was a 16-5 winner over Dodge City in last year's opener. Eric Lawson and Dallas Christison had back-to-back home runs as part of a two-run sixth inning for the Larks, who will play El Dorado in their Jayhawk League opener Thursday in El Dorado. "We thought we swung it pretty good and the pitching went the way we wanted it to go," Hays manager Frank Leo said. Right-hander Justin Murray picked up the win for the Larks, pitching two innings before being relieved by Ty Johnson in the. third. "First impressions mean a lot and I liked the way we played," Leo said. "It wasn't Jayhawk League caliber competition, but our pitchers were impressive." Mike Monterey and Fito Grijalva also pitched. Larks pitchers combined to allow five hits. Meanwhile, the Larks scored two runs in each of the first three innings and scored three Hays Legion falls to ,500 BY THE HAYS DAILY NEWS MANHATTAN — The Hays Legion baseball team saw its record drop to .500 on the young season after losing both ends of a doubleheader Tuesday night. Hays lost 4-2 to Manhattan in the opener and 6-5 in the nightcap to fall to 3-3 this summer. In the opener, Casey Jacobs (01) tossed a one-hitter in pitching a complete game, but also walked seven, with four strikeouts. Andy Lewton went 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Austin Klaus and Josh Post each drove in a run. In the second game, Hays starter Cam Stremel allowed five runs in 3^ innings. Kameron Parker (1-1) gave up the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Lewton had two singles and a double, with two runs scored. Clayton Karst had two hits and an RBI, while Chase Schippers and Andy Hammeke each drove in a run. Hays will next play in the Fort Hays Invitational, with two games on Friday at Larks Park. The Eagles will play Aurora, Colo., at 5:45 p.m., followed by a game at 8 against Omaha Millard West. Clemens gives up homer in 2006 debut LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — As Roger Clemens began to scuttle a bit in his minor-league tuneup, his son Koby went to the mound with some inspiration. One more strikeout, Koby told him, and the 9,222 fans in attendance Tuesday night would get a free gallon of windshield wiper fluid. It worked as Clemens struck out the next two. "He's a funny guy, isn't he?" the future Hall of Famer said of his son. With Koby behind him playing third base, Clemens made the first step in his return to the Houston Astros by pitching three innings for the Astros' Class A Lexington Legends- He showed pinpoint control and a sharp fastball in three innings of work against the Lake County Captains, a Cleveland Indians affiliate. The only real blemish was a long home run. Next up is probably a start Sunday at Double-A Corpus Christi, Texas, followed by another one June 16 at Triple-A Round Rock, Texas. The Rocket could be pitching in the big leagues by June 22 against Minnesota, The 43-year-old Clemens is accustomed to facing the likes of Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, but it was Captains center fielder Johnny Drennen who took him deep Tuesday night. Drennen, the third hitter Clemens faced, drove a fastball off the party deck beyond the right-field wall for a solo homer. Drennen said he got "goose bumps," but Clemens joked he just gave him a pitch to hit he- cause they share the same uniform number — No. 22. "I'm sure I'll visit him tomorrow—ask him how that room service was," Clemens said. Next up was Matt Fornasiere, who also hit the ball hard — lining a double to right-center. The only other hit Clemens allowed was a weakly hit infield single in the third. Otherwise, Clemens was hardly touched. He threw 62 pitches, allowed no walks and only the one run while striking out six — two in each inning. He tipped his hat and pumped his fist to thunderous applause by a Legends' record crowd as he came off the mound after the third. Clemens departed with the Legends ahead 5-1. They went on to win 7-4. Niuman Romero, the Lake County Captain with the distinction of digging in first against' ; the Rocket, struck out looking on four pitches. In his second at-bat, he hit a deep fly to center. Besides his much-anticipated return to the mound, it was a special game for Clemens be- cause he got to play with his son, the Legends' third baseman. Koby delivered the game ball to his father before Clemens threw his first pitch. Koby Clemens has missed most of the season after breaking a finger during a slide. The Rocket said his son nudged him to get back into game shape for a 23rd major league season, although Koby wasn't too pushy about which team his dad should choose. Clemens said pitching alongside his son was among the highlights of his illustrious career. "It's definitely right there," he said. ''There's nothing like it." Clemens came out of retirement again and re-signed with the Astros last Wednesday, agreeing to a $22 million contract to pitch for the rest of 2006. Clemens has 341 wins and is second to Nolan Ryan on the career strikeout list with 4,502. Pitcher Roger Clement, right, receives the ball from hli ton, third baseman Koby Clwntni, before the first pitch for the Mnin Uganda In their game Tuetday night agalnat Lake County In ington.Ky.
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