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Archive for Friday, February 24, 2006

MacDougal back closing for Royals

February 24, 2006

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— Mike MacDougal retired the final four Oakland batters, striking out two and getting two ground ball outs, to preserve a 2-1 win for Kansas City on Aug. 20.

That snapped a 19-game losing streak, the longest in Royals history and two shy of the American League record.

"That probably was my biggest save," MacDougal said Thursday. "We were pretty relieved it was over. We ended up breaking the streak. We were pretty excited. I don't know if you can be excited about that, but we were."

MacDougal had 21 saves in 25 chances last season, but just two came before Buddy Bell was named manager May 31. He converted 19 of 21 save opportunities under Bell, including 15 straight from May 19 to Aug. 20, the longest streak of his career.

MacDougal's next save will be his 50th.

"I knew that, but I really don't put too much emphasis on that," he said.

MacDougal enters spring training as the Royals' closer, but that was not the case last year. Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt was the closer to begin last season, but suffered a groin injury April 15.

MacDougal replaced him and got the final out for a save against Detroit - his only save for the month. Tony Pena, then the Royals' manager, had little faith in MacDougal at the end of games.

"It doesn't mean anything," MacDougal said of being the designated closer. "Don't get me wrong. I want to be the closer. That's what I want to do. If I pitch well, closing will take care of itself."

MacDougal's fastball is clocked in the upper 90s, but he acknowledges he is not the hardest thrower in the Royals' bullpen.

"It is kind of hard to compete with (Ambiorix) Burgos," MacDougal said. "He throws really hard. Burgos throws like a cannon."

MacDougal was an All-Star selection in 2003 when he logged 27 saves as a rookie. The Royals put MacDougal on the disabled list to start the next season, claiming he had a stomach virus.

"The virus was only a couple of days in spring training," MacDougal said. "That was not a big deal. My shoulder was a little hurt and the elbow (hurt) later."

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