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Hurdle returning to familiar Kansas City

Hurdle returning to familiar Kansas City

DENVER -- When the Kansas City Royals made Clint Hurdle their first-round pick in the 1975 First-Year Player Draft, he had shaggy black hair and a youthful, beaming smile.

After zipping through the Minors, Hurdle made his big league debut with the Royals in 1977. He never quite lived up to the team's expectations, though, and was traded to the Reds after the '81 season.

On Monday, a slightly grayer Hurdle with the same youthful smile will make his first trip back to Kansas City in 27 years, when the Rockies begin a three-game Interleague series with Royals.

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"I've been gone so long," Hurdle said. "I've gotten a flood of calls from people that want to see me, and it's nice, but the multitude of calls, there's not enough time. [We play] all night games."

In the time he does have, Hurdle said he looks forward to catching up with old friends and revisiting some of Kansas City's famous attractions, like the downtown plaza, with his wife, Karla.

But Hurdle isn't looking at this as a trip down memory lane. The Rockies have more important matters. They're trying to catch the D-backs, who are seven games in front of Colorado in the National League West.

"I'm going in [to Kansas City] with no expectations," Hurdle said. "It could be a real feel-good thing, or it could be just another park on the road that we've got business to take care of when we're [there]."

The Rockies have handled their business well against Interleague teams lately. They're 7-2 against the American League this year and boast a 28-14 Interleague record since 2006.

Pitching matchup
COL: LHP Jeff Francis (3-6, 5.22 ERA)
Francis, who is notorious for struggling early, finally appears to be the same pitcher who won 17 games last year and was named the Opening Day starter this year. Francis started the season 1-5, but is 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in his past four outings since June 3. In his latest start, against Cleveland, Francis yielded two runs (one earned) on five hits to earn the win. The lean lefty will be making his third straight start against an American League Central team this season, and he's had success against the Royals in the past. Francis is 1-0 in two starts against Kansas City, having given up just three runs in 14 1/3 combined innings.

KC: RHP Brian Bannister (6-6, 4.81 ERA)
Bannister held the Cardinals to two runs in seven innings to go 2-0 with two no-decisions in June. Bannister gave up nine hits but walked none for the second straight game. The only extra-base hit, a double, came when a catchable fly ball was lost in the outfield. Bannister expended just 81 pitches (58 strikes) in his seven innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. He faced Colorado once last year, giving up three runs and five hits in five innings.

Record vs. Royals: 4-2

2008 Interleague schedule
• May 16: Lost to Twins, 4-2
• May 17: Beat Twins, 3-2
• May 18: Beat Twins, 6-2
• June 13: Lost to White Sox, 5-4
• June 14: Beat White Sox, 2-0
• June 19: Beat White Sox, 5-3
• June 17: Beat Indians, 10-4
• June 18: Beat Indians, 4-2
• June 19: Beat Indians, 6-3
• June 23-25 at Royals
• June 27-29 at Tigers

Tidbits
The Rockies were unable to win their sixth consecutive series after losing to the Mets, 3-1, on Sunday. The Rockies fell to 10-15 in series finales and 5-5 in rubber games this season. ... After missing 46 games with a torn left quadriceps ligament, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki played all three games against the Mets and finished 3-for-12 with two doubles and a run scored. ... Brad Hawpe drew a career-high four walks Sunday. He finished the Rockies' seven-game homestand with a .333 (6-for-18) batting average and had a double, triple, two home runs and four RBIs. ... Colorado tallied just four hits Sunday. It was the seventh time this season the team was held to four hits or fewer.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN-HD

On radio
• KOA 850

Up next
• Tuesday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 2-3, 6.52) at Royals (Zack Greinke, 6-4, 3.33), 6:10 p.m. MT
• Wednesday: Rockies (Aaron Cook, 10-4, 3.57) at Royals (Luke Hochevar, 4-5, 4.86), 6:10 p.m. MT
• Tuesday: Off-day

Jeff Brinbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["interleague_play" ] }
{"content":["interleague_play" ] }