Colby Rasmus

* It wasn’t so long ago that the Kansas City Royals were so worried about the development of CF Lorenzo vCain, that they were looking to add Blue Jays CF Colby vRasmus. ….

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Letters of Intent

By Bob vElliott
KANSAS CITY — It was only a couple of years ago that the Kansas City Royals were not happy with the play of Lorenzo Cain and their scouts were following Colby Rasmus of the Blue Jays.

Was a trade in the works?

Well, KC was looking, especially after watching Rasmus roam into the gaps in left centre and right at Kauffman Stadium to steal extra-base hits.

In the past two seasons while providing gold glove-like defence Cain has hit .278 with 50 doubles, nine homers, 99 RBIs and a .708 OPS while stealing 42 bases in 53 attempts. He struck out 198 times in 870 at-bats.

For the Jays the past two years Rasmus hit .253 with 47 doubles, 40 homers 106 RBIs and a .792 OPS, swiping four bases in five attempts. He fanned 259 times in 763 at-bats. Now Rasmus, alomg with Melky Cabrera are both free agents.

Fly-over state: Having been a bench coach three years with the Royals under managers Trey Hillman and Ned Yost (2009-2011), Jays manager John Gibbons understands the passion of KC fans.

“It’s been a long time coming, it’s a great ball town,” Gibbons said this week. “Every one talks about St. Louis and them having the best fans in baseball — basically you’re talking about the same part of the country.”

Veteran help: Jays have hired former Pittsburgh Pirates scouting director Paul Tinnell as a cross checker on the amateur side heading into next June’s draft. Tinnell scouted alongside DanaBrown with the Washington Nationals and the Montreal Expos.

With the Nationals he scouted and signed first rounder Michael Burgess, a Tampa high schooler in 2007 and Steve Lombardozzi Jr. a 19th round pick from St. Pete’s Junior College in 2008.

Tinnell was the scouting director (1994-96) and director of player development under former general manager Cam Bonifay. He had joined the Pirates’ in 1990 as a scout after scouting for the Cleveland Indians,

With the Bucs he selected righthander Kris Benson with the first overall pick in 1996.

The way he’d call it: Kansas City is home to 100s of fountains and those owned by the city are flowing with the color of Royals blue until the World Series.

We can hear the anticipated opening of Tuesday night’s opener of the 110th World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, if Blue Jays broadcaster Jerry Howarth was working the series …

“Welcome to Kansas City where all the fountains are blue … except those that are not.”

Years ago Howarth once opened a game from old Tiger Stadium with “welcome to Tiger Stadium where all the seats are blue … except those that are orange.”

Closer Tom Henke heard the opening and continually greeted Howarth with the line.

Henke’s nephew Travis Henke, 25, a 22nd round pick from Arkansas-Little Rock in 2011 by the Washington Nationals, pitched at class-A Potomac this season. Henke was 5-2 with a 5.79 ERA in 36 games, walking 22 and striking out 45 in 65 1/3 innings.

“Now me — I was a nice guy when I pitched in Toronto,” said Henke from Jefferson City, Mo. “But my nephew — he’s country mean. If he gets up there with he’d straighten you Toronto writers out.

“Seriously, the best memory I have besides winning the World Series was my first game in Toronto. Bobby Cox put me into four games in Baltimore after I joined the team on the road. I came into the game and the fans gave me a standing ovation.”

Lookie lookie, no rookie: The Oakland A’s became the first staff not to use a rookie pitcher since the 1981 Blue Jays led by starters Dave Stieb, Jim Clancy, Luis Leal, Jackson Todd, Mark Bomback, JuanBerenguer and closerJerry Garvin under manager Bobby Mattick, who went (37-69, .349) in the strike-shortened season.

How far behind?: By finishing with 83 wins this year the Jays record this decade in 396-414 (.489) 60 games behind the first-place New York Yankees (456-354, .563), 17th best of the 30 teams. The St. Louis Cardinals (451-359, .557), Atlanta Braves (449-361, .554), Detroit Tigers (447-363, .552) and the Tampa Bay Rays (446-365, .550) round out the top five.

Hut-hut: No doubtMark Buehrle has a lot to do with it, but the Blue Jays pace of game was the second quickest in the AL this season. The Seattle Mariners had an average time of inning of 19.5 minutes. The Jays were second at 19.8 minutes, up from 18.9 in 2013.

Average time of game is based on nine-inning games only, with all shortened and extra-inning games excluded. The average time of game in both leagues climbed 24 seconds from 2013 to 2014.

– Follow Bob Elliott on Twitter @elliottbaseball