KANSAS CITY -- There's a new Class A location for the Royals for the next four years -- Lexington, Ky.
The Royals announced on Thursday that they've signed a player development contract through 2016 with the Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League. They replace the Kane County (Ill.) Cougars, the Royals' Midwest League affiliate for the last two seasons, who have switched to the Chicago Cubs
"We're very excited, we've wanted to be in this league for a long time," said Scott Sharp, Royals director of Minor League operations.
The team will play in Whitaker Bank Ballpark with a capacity of 6,006. Lexington has been affiliated with the Houston Astros since the team's inaugural 2001 season.
Lexington has the advantage of warmer weather than the Kane County location in the Chicago area.
"The schedule isn't as fluctuating, you don't play as many early-season day games, it's a more traditional schedule. You get more field time and the weather is better," Sharp said.
The Royals had a team in the South Atlantic League twice before, in Charleston, S.C., from 1980-84 and in Charleston, W.Va., in 1999-2000.
Lexington has been among the league's top four teams in attendance in each of its 12 seasons.
"I have had the fortunate experience of getting to work with the Kansas City Royals the past five seasons through our ownership stake in the Omaha club," said Legends president Andy Shea. "Every single occasion has been the ultimate professional encounter. This is a fantastic fit for Lexington, Whitaker Bank Ballpark and the Lexington Legends."
The Legends might be in line to have outfielder Bubba Starling, rated as the No. 2 Royals prospect by MLB.com, on the team. Starling, Kansas City's top Draft pick in 2011, had his first pro season this year with Burlington, N.C., at the rookie level and batted .275 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 53 games.
Player assignments, of course, are far in the future.
"I think the natural progression is that the rookie ball guys move up and one of the advantages of being in this league is that it's good for development with the warm weather and you have no compunction about sending players because it's not cold," Sharp said. "We feel like it reduces injury risk. The natural progression for all those rookie ball guys is to go to the next level."
But he quickly added: "We're 10 days into the offseason so we've got a long time."
Sharp, in Lexington for the announcement, pointed out that the Legends had this notation on their bulletin board: 200 Days to Opening Day.
Toma to enter Royals Hall of Fame on Friday
KANSAS CITY -- Not even master groundskeeper George Toma could keep the Kauffman Stadium field in shape for his induction into the Royals Hall of Fame on Aug. 31. Rain washed out the ceremony and the game against the Twins.
The induction has been rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday night before the Royals-Indians game. He'll become the 25th member of the Hall, joining players for whom he groomed the field, including George Brett, Frank White, Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard and Freddie Patek.
Toma, 83, worked his way to prominence after taking over as head groundskeeper of the Kansas City Athletics in 1957, transforming a poor field at Municipal Stadium into a showcase. When the Royals, who followed the A's into Municipal, moved into Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium in 1973, Toma came with them as head groundskeeper until 1995 and as a consultant until 1997. He was in charge when the stadium's artificial turn was changed to real grass after the 1994 season.
He also has done extensive work for the National Football League and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Moore expected to catch Odorizzi on Sunday
KANSAS CITY -- New arrival Adam Moore is likely to catch right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who'll make his Major League debut on Sunday against the Indians.
Moore, who has 68 games of big league experience with Seattle, was called up from Triple-A Omaha with Odorizzi and he caught him several times with the Storm Chasers. That's basically why manager Ned Yost decided to pitch Odorizzi on Sunday afternoon.
"It's as simple as this, and this was actually my thought process: I wanted to give Adam Moore a start when Odorizzi pitched and I wanted to give [Salvador Perez] a day off and Sunday was a good day to do it -- after a night game," Yost said.
So Moore is definitely in Sunday's lineup?
"Maybe," Yost hedged. "That's what I plan to do but between now and then, who knows what's going to happen?"
The second and final day of the Royals Coat Drive is Friday night. Coats, blankets, gloves and other winter items will be collected from 6 to 8 p.m. CT outside the Diamond Club at Kauffman Stadium. Cash donations will be accepted for autographed balls and photo cards. The Royals' 3-0 win over the White Sox on Wednesday night was their 12th shutout victory, the most since 1992. Bruce Chen has started three of those games. Close games have become a habit for the Royals. They have had 49 one-run decisions (26-23). They also have played 32 two-run games (11-21).
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.