SURPRISE, Ariz. — If spring training can have dog days like the regular season, were at that point. The end is approaching a week from Friday but its still a ways away. Its like August.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals appear to be plateauing, too, in their desert domination. They lost Monday for the third time in four games in falling 8-2 to the Texas Rangers, and their lead in the Cactus League is down to 1 ½ games.
Key roster decisions still loom at second base, backup catcher and the final spots in the rotation and bullpen, but Monday saw the Royals cut 12 players from their big-league camp roster.
None of the cuts were unexpected, although the decision to send Will Smith and Yordano Ventura to the minors drew some grumbling in the social media from those who see both as better rotation options than remaining candidates.
In case you missed it, Smith was optioned to Class AAA Omaha along with pitchers Everett Teaford and Nate Adcock.
Nine players were reassigned to minor-league camp: Ventura and pitchers Blaine Boyer, Michael Mariot and Brian Sanches; catcher Adam Moore; infielders Christian Colon, Anthony Seratelli and Blake Wood; and outfielder Willy Taveras.
The difference is this: Players on the 40-man roster must be optioned to the minors. Those in big-league camp as minor-league invites can simply be reassigned.
The moves mean the Royals still have 39 active players on their big-league camp roster, although that includes four who are participating tonight in the World Baseball Classic championship game in San Francisco.
Reliever Kelvin Herrera worked two scoreless innings Monday for the Dominican Republic in it 4-1 semifinal victory over The Netherlands. Infielder Miguel Tejada went two for four.
Reliever Atahualpa Severino is also on the Dominican team. Infielder Irving Falu is on Puerto Rico.
The Royals, 17-5-1, continue their spring schedule today against Colorado at 3:05 p.m. Central time at Surprise Stadium. Jeremy Guthrie is scheduled for six innings or 75 pitches.
Relievers Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, Francisley Bueno and Dan Wheeler are also scheduled to pitch.
Heres the lineup: LF Alex Gordon, SS Alcides Escobar, DH Eric Hosmer, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvy Perez, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur and 2B Chris Getz.
Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is todays exchange:
@AJL1972: Just caught a game in Surprise. Whats up with Mooses stache. Did he lose a bet?
Mike Moustakas is also rocking some slicked-up locks at the moment. You decide whether its a good look.
@juliokcmo: is a 0.82 ERA much better than a 7.90 ERA?
That depends. Are we talking spring training and small sample sizes or games that matter and legitimate evaluation periods? One is better, the other is meaningful.
@T_guy35: Will Hoch be on the opening day roster?
As I wrote in Mondays Q&A exchange, the sense I get is the Royals really want to take a look at Luke Hochevar as a reliever. They dont seem that interested in trading him -- although I think theyd listen to an offer.
So, yes, I definitely see him on the Opening Day roster.
@bzank17: are you as afraid as I am of Hosmer turning into Bob Hamelin? Good one yr, but pitchers figure out & he cant adjust.
If youre asking if I believe that will happen...no, I dont. But I understand the concern and dont expect it to dissipate until Eric Hosmer starts playing to his potential in the regular season on a sustained basis.
@GoRoyalsGo: Do the #Royals not value the stats that show Mendoza pitched better (and was worth more) than Chen last year?
Im not sure what stats youre referencing, but...I guess not. Everything points to Bruce Chen as the fifth starter in the rotation, and Luis Mendoza serving as a long reliever. But thats not absolute. It could change.
@mike_steelman: Why cut Smith when Chen and Hoch look as miserable as ever? Smith has upside and arent we trying to win now?
Again, you (and many others) are putting a lot of stock in small sample sizes from spring training. Right or wrong, no team (that I know of) does that.
That said, I could easily see Will Smith summoned to fill a spot in the rotation whether because of injury or poor performance by someone else. He pitched well this spring. That left a positive impression.
@blamberty: Any idea where the battle for 2b stands, or how long theyll wait to decide?
My guess (and thats all it is; no club official has said this) is Johnny Giavotella better have a hot week to avoid a return trip to Class AAA Omaha.
@joel_kammeyer: Why is the KC Star beginning to charge for reading their app and website? Seems to drive away the future of reading.
The Star launched its paywall in early December. You get a limited number of free page views each month before youre required to become a subscriber to continue reading.
Were a business, and this is our product. I like getting paid.
@alorasdad: by cut you mean sent to minor league camp right?
Cut nearly always means cut from the big-league camp roster -- either optioned to the minors or reassigned to minor-league camp. If a player is released, that term is used.
@jeff_fett: Just curious, does owner David Glass ever make a sneak appearance during spring training? how often do you see him?
Hes around a lot more than most people seem to believe. Hes already been to spring training, and he attends a lot of home games and occasional road games.
Sneak is a pejorative word, but Ive found David Glass prefers to keep a low profile. He doesnt hide, though. Ive always found him to be accessible. I think its fair to say he doesnt look to create a stir as many owners do.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.