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Picollo out of running for Phillies' GM post

KANSAS CITY -- J.J. Picollo, the Royals' vice president/assistant general manager, is no longer in the running for the Phillies' GM job, he told on Friday.

Picollo, who interviewed for the position two weeks ago in Chicago, was informed by the Phillies as the Royals were returning from Toronto on Wednesday.

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"It was a great experience to go through," Picollo said. "It was an honor to be considered. It's a great organization that will do great things."

Picollo, a native of Philadelphia, has excelled in scouting and player-personnel roles with the Royals. He also interviewed for the Astros' GM position in 2011.

:: ALCS: Blue Jays vs. Royals -- Tune-in info ::'s Todd Zolecki reported on Friday that Philadelphia could announce its new GM as early as Monday, and that Phillies president Andy MacPhail has three finalists: Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak; A's assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz; and Rays vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom.

Tough series no surprise to Yost: Manager Ned Yost isn't surprised that the postseason has been as tough as it has been for his team -- certainly much tougher than in 2014, when the Royals swept through both the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series.

"We knew coming in this was going to be a very, very tough series," Yost said. "Just like we felt like Houston was going to be an extremely tough series; they matched up well against us with their youth and their speed and their defensive abilities and their athleticism. And we knew coming in that these guys had great pitching and they had tremendous power offensively as a group, all the way up and down, for the most part, of their lineup."

First inning, first pitch, first swing: Those who have not seen much of shortstop Alcides Escobar are amazed by how much he loves to swing at the first pitch in the first inning. But what's more surprising is that teams keep feeding him first-pitch fastballs.

"Yeah, that surprised me right there, because everybody knows I swing at the first pitch," Escobar said. "And if they continue to throw a strike, I'll continue to swing the bat."

Asked why he loves swinging at that first pitch, Escobar said, "Because 99 percent [of the time] it's a fastball right there in the strike zone."

Escobar is having a terrific series -- 10-for-19 with six runs scored and five RBIs going into Friday's Game 6.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.
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