SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza makes his first appearance today since returning to the Royals from the World Baseball Classic when he starts against the Chicago White Sox at Surprise Stadium.
By Bob Dutton
The Kansas City Star
Mendoza had two strong outings -- one run in six innings -- before departing to join Mexico in the WBC. He could enhance his chances to win the final spot in the rotation by pitching effectively again.
Veteran Bruce Chen, the favorite for the fifth slot, struggled in his last two appearances, including Saturday, when he surrendered five homers while yielding seven runs in five innings in an 8-3 loss to the Cubs.
Of course it does, manager Ned Yost said when asked whether Chens performance raised concerns. Were in competition for a spot. Were getting down to the time when were going to have to make a decision.
Todays game starts at 3:05 p.m. Central time and can be heard in Kansas City on KCSP (610 AM). Relievers J.C. Gutierrez, Dan Wheeler, Nate Adcock, Blaine Boyer and Greg Holland are also slotted to pitch.
First baseman Eric Hosmer is back in the lineup after rejoining the club following the USAs ouster from the WBC. Reliever Tim Collins is ticketed to pitch Monday night against Texas.
Heres the lineup: LF Alex Gordon, 2B Chris Getz, 1B Eric Hosmer, DH Billy Butler, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur, 3B Elliot Johnson, C George Kottaras and SS Brandon Wood.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar is getting another day to recover from muscle spasms in his lower back, which surfaced last Sunday while running the bases.
The Royals and White Sox are playing gamesmanship with one another by shuttling key members of their rotations, James Shields and Jose Quintana, to minor-league games in order to keep hitters from getting an early read.
Shields will start the season opener for the Royals on April 1 when the two teams meet at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Quintana will likely also pitch in that first series.
Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is todays exchange:
@davidwlowe: After what I saw, Chen, he doesn't deserve #5 spot. Please tell the truth: he will win the spot b/c of $$ & tenure, right? If Bruce Chen wins the final spot in the rotation, which I think is likely, it will probably have more to do with him being 34-29 over the last three seasons for a club that lost 90 or more games each year.
@mdbbiggs: seems kind of dumb to have even signed guys like wheeler then. decisions were made before spring training began. There is value to an organization having depth to draw upon, whether to compensate for injuries or for trade purposes -- either to include in a deal or to replace someone who is traded away. Veteran reliever Dan Wheeler is having a strong camp and might yet pitch his way onto the club. I still think its a long shot, but its not nearly as long as it was a few weeks ago.
@5joeclines: after 2 straight loses, should we throw in the towel for this year? If you need to ask, you probably should.
@dcowan850: When do you expect decision on Getz vs. Gio? Theres no reason to think the Royals will choose between Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella as their starting second baseman until the end of camp.
@BHIndepMO: Do you think that the presence of 3 new starters (and Guthrie) will propel Mendoza from long relief to the rotation? If Luis Mendoza gets the final spot in the rotation -- which, at this point, I think is unlikely -- it wont have anything to do with who the four guys ahead of him are.
@EdBartel: It seems some teams are looking for backup catchers. Will the Royals be able to get anything for the loser of their battle? Good question, and I dont know. As things stand now, it figures to be a cat-and-mouse game. The Royals know other teams are looking for a backup catcher, but those teams know the Royals cant keep both George Kottaras and Brett Hayes unless Salvy Perez gets hurt. What does seem likely is neither Hayes nor Kottaras will clear waivers.
@schultzdavid: Who is taking over for @raford3 ? I dont know if its official, but KCSP (610 AM) has Josh Vernier down here following the club on a regular basis. He seems like a sharp guy, but Robert Ford will be tough to replace.
@gtatrombone: I've never been for spring training. Is it set up like NFL preseason, where there are open workouts? Its been a while since Ive been to an NFL pre-season workout, but I understand the access can be somewhat restrictive. Someone can correct me if Im wrong. Adam? Randy? Anyway, the Royals workouts are all open. There are some areas restricted to just club officials, but fans can really get close. Picture watching your kids behind the screen or behind the bench at a Little League game. That close.
@J_L_Hayes: How great of spring does Lough have to have to leave Surprise with big league team? I dont know what more David Lough can do to win a spot. Pretty much everything he hits right now is a line drive. That said, the numbers games doesnt work in his favor.
@Koreanfan_KC: Getz crouches at batter box... Last yr he was more stand up inspired by Ackley then had some success. Do U see that diff too? Good eye. Chris Getz does have a more spread stance this season, which is the result of work with hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.