Matheny grateful for Mom's 'undying support'

May 9th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- In the week leading up to Mother’s Day on Sunday, Royals manager Mike Matheny got to welcome his mom to The K for the first time since he became manager. Since fans weren’t allowed in the stands in 2020, Matheny’s parents, Jerry and Judy, finally drove from Columbus, Ohio, and got to see their son in a Royals uniform and perched on the top step of the home dugout on Wednesday.

They also got to see him get ejected, along with pitching coach Cal Eldred, for arguing with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez in an explosive sixth inning.

“The first game she had been to since I’ve been a Royal… yeah,” Matheny said with a smile Sunday morning. “They were waiting up when I got back to the house afterward. And I asked, ‘How long did you guys stay?’ And she said, ‘We stayed about as long as you did.’

“She knows me. She knows I can get fired up. She’s seen it before. I didn’t get scolded, if that’s what you’re asking. She knows I stand up for the people I care about, and that’s just part of who I am.”

Matheny constantly reminds his players to be grateful for where they are today and to not take playing on a Major League field for granted, no matter how hard the game can be. He also reminds them to include their parents on the journey if they can; when he told catcher Sebastian Rivero he was going to be activated earlier this week, the first thing he told Rivero was to call his parents.

“My mom never said a word, but I came off that field and knew that there was one person that thought I was the best player on the field -- even when I punched out four times,” Matheny said. “That kind of undying support just wraps up my mom. She wasn’t a baseball fan, she was a fan of me. And it was very obvious that it wasn’t about my performance, it was about who I was.

“We’re not here, we’re just not, if we don’t have that kind of support system back home.”

Splashes of pink will be featured all around Kauffman Stadium on Sunday, with Royals and White Sox players swinging pink bats and wearing pink wristbands and socks for Mother’s Day and the “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative, which is intended to raise awareness and funds (through donations and auction proceeds) to support efforts to address breast cancer. Both clubs have also selected an Honorary Bat Girl, each of whom have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the cause.

Susan Miller is the Royals’ Honorary Bat Girl this year. A mother of two, Miller is an active member of The Woman’s Cancer Center Advisory Council in Kansas City. She was 38 when she received news that she had advanced triple-negative Breast Cancer and a tumor in her right lung; in 1999, it was rare for women so young to receive that grave of a diagnosis. She went through aggressive treatment, including chemotherapy and a double mastectomy. Her family was by her side as she recovered, and today, she raises awareness in the community of the groundbreaking work at the cancer center.

Bubic pitches into rotation conversation
Kris Bubic’s performance in Saturday’s 9-1 loss to the White Sox was a bright spot for the Royals -- both for the team and himself. Even with an off day Monday, the lefty singlehandedly saved the bullpen after Daniel Lynch couldn’t make it through the first inning, as Bubic threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

It also put him in the conversation for a future rotation spot. The Royals have yet to announce their starters for the Detroit series on Tuesday through Thursday, and they need to decide what to do for Friday’s doubleheader against the White Sox.

“I told this to Kris when he was leaving the clubhouse yesterday that he picked us up bigger than he realized,” Matheny said. “And not just that he picked us up -- he was fantastic. He threw the ball so well.”

Matheny said it was the best he’s seen from Bubic, who spent 2020 in the Royals rotation and posted a 4.32 ERA in 10 starts. He was optioned in Spring Training to work on his delivery and aggressiveness, and he came back to the Major League squad as a long reliever. That might change, though, depending on what the Royals decide to do with their rotation this week.

“We talked about it a lot last year, and never believed we saw the Kris Bubic last season that we believe is the pitcher that he is,” Matheny said. “I think we saw a closer version yesterday.”

Lynch’s struggles
Matheny acknowledged that there were things that stood out about Lynch’s short start when he and the coaches re-watched the outing Sunday morning.

“Yes. I’ll leave it at that,” Matheny said. “There’s some things. Without divulging too much, absolutely some things that we need to get cleaned up. Now it’s just going to be how can we do that in a timely manner.”

That’s another reason why the Royals haven’t announced their rotation for this week yet; if he was tipping his pitches, Lynch will need to fix that before his next start, which would come for Friday’s doubleheader if the Royals stay on turn.

“We have a lot of different information,” Matheny said. “This kid can handle that. We’re going to be able to give him some things that he needs to work on.”