The Royals had the second of their three open dates Monday in their Cactus League schedule. The last one is March 21. All players in big-league camp had the day off.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals surrendered their team lead in earned-run average after Sundays 17-11 slugfest victory over the Los Angeles Angels spiked their mark to 3.87.
That ranks second to the New York Yankees, who carried a 3.66 ERA into the week. The Royals still lead all Cactus League teams. Milwaukee ranks second at 3.98.
Of greater note, perhaps, the rotations projected front four -- James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis have a combined 1.69 ERA after yielding just three runs in 16 innings.
Manager Ned Yost recently pointed to the importance of reliable production from the clubs four corners. So this has to be encouraging:
Left fielder Alex Gordon is batting .520 (13 for 25); right fielder Jeff Francoeur is batting .323 (10 for 31); third baseman Mike Moustakas is batting .452 (14 for 31) and first baseman Eric Hosmer was batting .391 (nine for 23) before joining the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Plus, designated hitter Billy Butler is his usual productive self at .387 (12 for 31) with a team-leading 11 RBIs. (Max Ramirez also has 11).
One cautionary note: Early in camp, pitchers throw a high proportion of fastballs and change-ups. The hooks curveballs and sliders become more frequent over the last two weeks.
The Royals are 13-1-1 for a .900 winning percentage (counting ties as one-half victory and one-half loss) with 19 games remaining.
Their spring record for victories is 22, which came in 1999 when they were 22-9 while based in Baseball City, Fla. The only other time they won 20 spring games was two years ago when they went 20-10-1.
The best spring winning percentage was also in 1999 at .710.
Just noting: the 1999 team finished 64-97; the 2011 team finished 71-91.
The Royals have slipped to second, behind Milwaukee, in team defensive efficiency rating, a metric that tracks the percentage of outs recorded to defensive opportunities.
The Royals are at .705 to the Brewers .707. Pittsburgh ranks third at .691.The next highest-rated Cactus League team (fields are harder in Arizona) is the Chicago White Sox, who rank seventh overall at .675.
Catcher Salvy Perez and right-handed pitcher Luis Mendoza are expected back in camp Tuesday after their teams Venezuela and Mexico were eliminated over the weekend from the World Baseball Classic.
The Royals still have six players participating in the tournament: first baseman Eric Hosmer and reliever Tim Collins for the USA; infielder Miguel Tejada and relievers Kelvin Herrera and Atahualpa Severino for the Dominican Republic; and infielder Irving Falu for Puerto Rico.
The Royals and Texas Rangers will play an abbreviated B game at noon Central time Tuesday on the George Brett Field. The game is scheduled for 41/2 innings and offers both clubs the opportunity to get work for pitchers.
Plans call for the Royals to use Blaine Boyer, Francisley Bueno, Michael Mariot and Brian Sanches.
The primary difference between B games and split-squad games is no admission is charged.
Results dont count in the Cactus League standings and rules are relaxed, i.e., innings are often determined by pitch counts instead of outs.
The Royals make their only spring trip to old Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Tuesday to play the Oakland As. James Shields is scheduled for four innings in his third spring start.
Greg Holland, J.C. Gutierrez, Donnie Joseph, Everett Teaford and Louis Coleman are also slotted to pitch. The game can be heard in Kansas City on KCSP (610 AM).
Royals (RHP James Shields) vs. As (LHP Tommy Milone), at 3:05 p.m. Central time in Phoenix.
Ive got him in the lineup, so hed better be here.
| Manager Ned Yost on whether he expects catcher Salvy Perez back in camp for Tuesdays game against Oakland.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY: 20 DAYS