Catching up with Royals Hall of Famer Leonard

April 17th, 2018

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Dennis Leonard, a Royals Hall of Famer, was one of the greatest pitchers in club history.

Leonard threw more than 200 innings in seven seasons with the Royals and topped 290 innings twice. He is the Royals' all-time leader in complete games with 103 and in shutouts with 23. He is second in wins with 144.

Leonard, 66, has brought his experience and wisdom to Royals camp as a guest instructor for 11 years now.

Royals Hall of Fame caught up with Leonard as he surveyed the team's Minor Leaguers:

Q: What makes it so special to be with these young Royals?

Leonard: "The amazing thing is when (general manager) Dayton Moore came on, he said that there's a lot of kids down here who have no idea who the guys are in the pictures on the wall (in the clubhouse). They go by them every day and have no idea. So credit Dayton to construct a program to get some of the guys from the past down here. I know John (Mayberry) and Willie (Wilson) really appreciate it, too. Just to put that uniform on again is pretty special. Hopefully (Moore) stays here for a long time."

Q: Obviously, you don't want to interfere with what the coaches are teaching down here, but what kind of advice do you give the kids?

Leonard: "I think some of the (young) pitchers think some questions are stupid, but they're not. I'll bring some of the old-school thought because I don't know the new-school thought. But I would never go in front of a coach and tell a kid 'Try this.' You don't want to step on any toes."

Q: Watching the home-run derby that was the World Series last fall, was that alarming for you as a former pitcher?

Leonard: "I gave up my share but not that many. I know when I was playing, when pitchers got too dominant, they lowered the mound or shrank the strike zone. All because they thought people didn't want to see a 1-0 game. But to me, a 1-0 game is the most exciting. I think they got it going now with more offense (in baseball) like football and basketball. It's what they want."

Q: Is it a different game today with all the home runs and strikeouts?

Leonard: "Definitely. But as a pitcher it is still the same. The thing I see that's different is pitching inside. You don't see a lot of pitching inside anymore. You see now that a guy hits a home run and the next guy comes up and he's comfortable. Now the way they're trying to police the game, if one guy hits a guy, they warn both benches, which I think is wrong. If a pitcher hits a guy, warn him. Then if the other pitcher responds, warn him. But you can't take that out of a pitcher's hand."