After two weeks of drills, the Royals were almost ready for spring training games against other teams. KC planned to have an intrasquad game today before starting the exhibition schedule.
And now we reach the end of our previews of the Royals’ 1977 opponents with a look at the two expansion franchises. First, the newest addition to the AL West, the Seattle Mariners. Baseball returned to the Pacific Northwest after the 1969 Seattle Pilots lasted one season, moved to Milwaukee, and became the Brewers. The new team started the expansion draft by taking outfielder Ruppert Jones from the Royals. They proceeded to stick with young players for the most part, eschewing the pricey (and almost certainly on the downside of their careers) veterans on the unprotected list. After the draft, they did add veteran pitchers Diego Segui, Mike Kekich, and Enrique Romo; the latter two had been pitching in Mexico. All three were expected to be leaders of the staff, and the Mariners were concentrating on pitching and speed for their first season.
In Toronto, the Blue Jays took a similar tack in the expansion draft. Their first pick was infielder Bob Bailor. Later, they took pitcher Al Fitzmorris from the Royals, although they would trade him that same day to Cleveland for catcher Alan Ashby and first baseman Doug Howard. Toronto also drafted veteran hitter Rico Carty, only to deal him weeks later for catcher Rick Cerone and outfielder John Lowenstein (who would be traded back to Cleveland shortly before Opening Day in exchange for infielder Hector Torres). They also made a deal for veteran first baseman Ron Fairly, who had enjoyed some successful seasons with the Montreal Expos.
Of course, being expansion teams, very little was expected from either squad.
Today’s birthday: Donnie Murphy (1983)