KANSAS CITY -- There is one element of the no-fans-in-the-stands reality of the 2020 season that concerns Royals manager Mike Matheny: players shouting inappropriate verbiage that could be heard over the broadcasts.
That’s why Matheny is a big proponent of pumped-in crowd noise over stadium audio systems this season to drown out anything shouted in the heat of competition that could embarrass players and the game.
“From our perspective in these intrasquad games,” Matheny said, “we can hear every word from pitchers and catchers and everyone. We don’t want to take emotion out of the game because it dilutes the product.
“But once you make everything heard, in terms of broadcasting, it’s not good for the product. And the [seven-second broadcast] delay isn’t going to catch everything.”
Matheny feels so strongly about the matter that he contacted the Commissioner’s Office on Friday morning to share his concerns.
“I think you could just have a universal file with a league-mandated noise level,” Matheny said. “We don’t necessarily need higher noise when you’re at home and something good happens. But let’s just think about trying to protect our players, mainly from themselves.”
Earlier this week, as Summer Camp intrasquad games began at Kauffman Stadium, players, coaches and even reporters in the stands were a bit startled by being able to hear everything uttered on the field.
“Whit [Merrifield] stepped in the box, his first at-bat,” Matheny said, “and [Danny] Duffy gets on the mound and he misses with a pitch. And Duffy started talking to himself. And Whit stepped out of the box and said, ‘We’re going to have to get used to this. We can hear everything these guys say.’
“Duffy was [shouting], ‘Get that ball inside! Get it inside!’ So Whit had no idea he was trying to come inside but goes, ‘OK, I guess I know he’s trying to come in on me.’”
And as Duffy observed, “It was weird hearing the catcher’s mitt pop, too. And it was weird having a conversation with my center fielder while I’m on the mound.”
The bigger concern is what obscenities might be uttered.
“Just thinking of what goes through my mind when I hit my thumb with a hammer,” Matheny said. “Now, you got a guy hitting a foul ball off his shin, and think about how he’ll react.”
“That’s something we’re always thinking about,” Matheny said. “It’s a pretty volatile position. Even last year, with a couple of injuries, you move pretty fast down your depth chart.
“He’s a guy that can catch and throw pretty well. Hope he keeps developing the bat.”
Hernandez, signed to a Minor League deal, has been in 22 games with the D-backs over his career, hitting .167 with one home run. The 27-year-old was in the Cardinals’ Spring Training camp this year before being released.
Kauffman vs. Surprise
Matheny was asked if it’s more difficult to evaluate players for his 30-man roster crammed into Kauffman Stadium with staggered workouts, as opposed to the spacious layout of Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.
“I think it’s more about feeling the crunch of time,” Matheny said. “It’s a very short window here. And actually, it’s easier for me to see everything on this one field than in Surprise, so that kind of helps.”