SURPRISE, Ariz. — Camp shifts gears today when the Royals play the first of two planned intrasquad games. The other one is Wednesday before the clubs swings into its 36-game Cactus League schedule Friday against Texas.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
If youve been following, you know manager Ned Yost has set up a United States vs. the World competition, although circumstances will force several U.S.-born pitchers to pitch Wednesday for the World team.
Todays projected lineups offer grist for those trying to divine an early insight into what club officials are thinking. And while players do this, too, its often wrong to draw any conclusions.
Still Chris Getz is starting at second base for the U.S. team over Johnny Giavotella, and Brett Hayes is starting as the U.S. catcher over George Kottaras. (Salvy Perez, of course, is starting for the World team.)
Hayes and Kottaras are battling to be Perezs backup. Hayes is generally viewed as the better defensive option, while Kottaras is the better hitter and hes left-handed.
The top three utility candidates are starting. Newcomer Elliot Johnson is at short for the U.S. team (while starter Alcides Escobar starts for the World). The World infield also has Miguel Tejada at third and Irving Falu at second.
Well try to have some details later today.
It appears the not-inconsiderable concern that surfaced the last few days over the injury to center fielder Lorenzo Cain is misplaced although not surprising after his 2012 problems.
Cain is battling a strain between the knuckles on his right hand but should be 100 percent by the end of the week. Of course, if hes not back to full duty by, say, the weekend, that view will be reevaluated.
I often get questions about the Royals spring home at the Surprise Recreation Campus. From now on, I can just refer them to a four-minute video on our website that provides an inside look.
Its shot by photographer John Sleezer and hosted by assistant sports editor Nicole Poell. Together, theyre an incomparable combination and offer up a lot of good-looking stuff. Heres the link: http://bit.ly/Yta2Hm
Meanwhile, keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is todays exchange:
@RyanABland: It's possible the #Royals starting rotation could be all righties. Does that pose any strategic concerns?
Its quite possible since the top four guys are right-handers, and right-hander Luke Hochevar seems to rate a slight pre-camp favorite over lefty Bruce Chen and righty Luis Mendoza for the fifth spot.
Manager Ned Yost and other club officials have said repeatedly they dont see a problem with five right-handed starters.
@LimbackShawn: How has Dwyer looked so far? Any indications he'll regain the form that made him a top prospect?
Its tough to tell when hes just throwing side sessions and batting practice. Check back in a week. Hes scheduled to pitch an inning in todays intrasquad game and start Monday against Arizona at Surprise Stadium.
@MarcusMeade: What went into the thinking to make the UT infielder job Tejada's to lose over cheaper, more recently productive Falu's?
First, the Royals are saying Miguel Tejada has to win a job, although I think thats likely to happen. Just as I think Irving Falu is likely to open the season at Class AAA Omaha.
The Royals believe Tejada can provide some leadership among young Latin players in their clubhouse. Its the type of move than many winning clubs make sign a veteran guy for backup duty.
For what its worth, I think its a low-risk gamble. The Royals can always cut him at little expense if they decide his skills have eroded too much to make a contribution.
@dgdowner2: Is anybody making a favorable impression on you that would be a surprise, or is it going pretty much as you had figured?
Right-hander Yordano Ventura isnt going to break with the club well, Im pretty sure he wont but hes fun to watch. The ball just explodes from his hand with an easy motion.
Now were talking side sessions and BP work so far, but he appears to have a good curve, a good change and good command. That fastball might be a touch straight, but theres real giddy-up. I can see why the Royals are excited.
@DanielSWesley: Do any of the Royals front office staff secretly (or openly) not like the WBC? Can imagine some fear over injuries or overuse?
No team likes to lose control of its players for any reason, but the real concern is usually reserved for starting pitchers who might try to pitch beyond their conditioning. Relievers are not a concern because, usually, theyre only working an inning at a time.
The Royals have only one starter on a WBC roster Luis Mendoza, who is pitching for Mexico. Hes already stretched out; he threw 113 pitches earlier this month in a 7 1/3-inning start in the Caribbean Series.
@ericschneid: If Hoch pitches bad enough this spring to find his way out of the rotation, what role do you see him playing in the bullpen?
Hed almost certainly be a long reliever. The same goes for the other two guys competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza.
@RSanders85: Are the Royals counting on Danny Duffy to be ready for a stretch run?
Rehab schedules are always subject to change, but Duffy is on target to be game ready by mid-July (maybe earlier) in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
@daniel_winans: Where is the perez Q&A?
The questions and there was a good selection have been funneled to our @NicolePoell, who is conducting the session. Shes just waiting to catch Perez when he has a few free minutes.
Catchers have the busiest work schedules in camp.
@AU_SeanWald: Is Colon Only Practicing at SS? Saw Him Behind Escobar, Why Not Try Him at 2nd?
I expect him to get some time this spring at second base. Also probably a little at third. But hes viewed as the Royals best in-house option if shortstop Alcides Escobar goes down for an extended period. So hell probably play a lot of short at Class AAA Omaha.
@ Brett_NP_ADV: Do you see the argument in giving Davis the #4 spot in the rotation?
The Royals got him to be a starter, and he doesnt have the pedigree of James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie or Ervin Santana. So, yes, I see him as the logical No. 4.
@Kevin_Flanagan: Is E. Johnson the best def 2B in camp? As legit SS, has to have better arm & range than Getz/Gio, right?
Ive seen analyses that liken Elliot Johnson to Willie Bloomquist, and I can see that. Both guys are generally viewed as viable short-term replacements at shortstop with skills that project better at second base.
Ive not seen enough of Johnson to draw any conclusion, but scouts tend to puts his skills at second base as superior to Johnny Giavotella but not quite as good as Chris Getz.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.