KANSAS CITY, Mo. With first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz on the 15-day disabled list and the Royals thirty-five and a half games out of first place with thirty-five games to go, team officials have decided to pack it in for the season and look ahead to next year.
"Doug would love to get back in action, but we've got to think about the long term," said Muzzy Jackson, assistant general manager and vice president-player personnel.
So Mientkiewicz and Mark Grudzielanek, the Royals' second baseman, will check into Truman Medical Center this weekend for a rare medical procedure that franchise officials hope will improve the team's infield defense next year; a "Jumble"-based surgical operation that converts clumsy, nonsensical letter combinations into understandable words.
"Defense is all about communication," said manager Buddy Bell. "If you can't pronounce your first baseman's name, I don't know how you can expect to turn a double play."
"Jumble" is a popular word game that is syndicated in many newspapers. Readers unscramble four combinations of letters to form English words, then combine selected letters to obtain the answer to a riddle, usually in the form of a pun.
"Jumble is a great way for ballplayers to learn to work together, sort of like pepper," says bench coach Billy Doran. "Sometimes a letter will fly into the stands and hit a fan, so you have to be careful," he cautioned.
The names of the two ballplayers will be broken up into "cikw", "gurd", "neek", "umg", "eit" and "damklanr", which spell "wick", "drug", "keen", "gum", "tie" and "landmark" when unscrambled. Physicians say the remaining letters—z, o, e and two i's—will be used for stem cell research or donated to a homeless shelter.
Copyright 2006, Con Chapman