SURPRISE, Ariz. — Even the Royals arent quite sure what to make of their romp this spring through the Cactus League. A victory today over second-place Seattle will clinch the desert title.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Its spring training, manager Ned Yost cautioned, but weve had a great spring. Weve accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish. We tied the franchise record for wins (at 22, set in 1999).
Its nothing to whoop and holler about, but its still an accomplishment. Everybody is involved. Everybody is playing. To rack up a bunch of wins this spring is very impressive for our players.
The Royals carry a 22-6-1 record and a 3 ½-game lead into todays game against the Mariners, 19-10, and theres late news this morning: The Royals have pulled Bruce Chen from his scheduled start.
Minor-leaguer Sugar Ray Marimon will start instead. What the switch means is uncertain. Ill update here as soon as I have more details.
Here is todays lineup against the Mariners:
LF Jarrod Dyson, SS Alcides Escobar, DH Billy Butler, 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur, 3B Miguel Tejada, 2B Chris Getz and C Brett Hayes.
You can hear the game in the Kansas City area on KCSP (610 AM).
The Royals made a few roster moves you might have missed late Monday after their 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Outfielder David Lough was optioned to Class AAA Omaha, while utilityman Xavier Nady and lefty reliever George Sherrill were released from their minor-league contracts.
Lough, 27, had a terrific camp in going 20 for 44 in 24 games, but the Royals plan to carry just four outfielders: starters Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur, along with backup Jarrod Dyson.
Thanks everyone for the love and support, Lough wrote on Twitter after getting the news. Getting sent down is never easy but Ill never stop working hard. Big things to come! Go Royals!
The decision, in part, came down to Lough having options, which means he can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers. Dyson is out of options.
We want (Lough) playing every day, Yost said, but his progression from the beginning of last year to where we are now, hes getting very close. He had a phenomenal camp.
You can really see him starting to grow and get close to being a solid big-league player.
The moves regarding Nady, 34, and Sherrill, 35, were expected because of todays deadline regarding major-league free agents who sign minor-league contracts.
Clubs must inform such players by today whether they will break camp on the 25-man roster. If not, the player must be released or offered a reassignment to the minors.
The player can reject the reassignment and become a free agent. If he accepts, he receives a $100,000 retention bonus and a June 1option to opt out and become a free agent.
Players who are released immediately become free agents. Any club, including his former club, can then sign that player without paying the retention bonus or being subject to the June 1 opt-out.
The procedure is designed to prevent major-league free agents being forced to accept a minor-league assignment if they believe they have the opportunity to make the big-league roster on another team.
The Royals are expected to try to retain both players.
Nady went nine for 26 in 13 games but battled a foot injury late in camp. Sherrill continues to recover from Tommy John surgery on his elbow but is on track to return to game action in May.
Keep those questions coming through the end of spring training on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is todays exchange:
@EdBartel: Please assure me that the Royals are not showing any interest in Yuniesky Betancourt.
Ive heard nothing to suggest they are. Plus, they have three guys who are probably better fits as utility players in Elliot Johnson, Miguel Tejada and Irving Falu.
That said, several teams, including the Yankees and Cardinals, are showing interest in Betancourt.
@wtalley: FSKC just showed the starting rotation as Shields, Guthrie, Santana, Davis. 1st broadcast jitters, or is that order right?
You sure they werent just listing the top four guys? That order is not what manager Ned Yost announced last week, and its not the way theyre lined up at the moment.
Im pretty sure the order is James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis and the as-yet unannounced fifth starter.
@fakeericseifert: Will C. Getz homer this year? Even once?
I dont make a lot of predictions but, yes, I think Chris Getz will hit a homer at some point this season.
@audra_marvin: I know Elliot Johnson is the PTBNL from TB. Why is he not in the utility infielder conversation? His bat's been great so far
Perhaps theres some confusion. Elliot Johnson is a utilityman, and hes a lock for the club. That conversation youre hearing must involve the other utilityman. The Royals are likely to keep two.
The battle for the second job is between Miguel Tejada and Irving Falu, and I believe Tejada is a heavy favorite.
@zrod10: do you see any of the royals FO guys who could be candidates for a GM job in the future?
The obvious one is J.J. Picollo, who is the assistant general manager for scouting and player development.
@RJonesing: What kind of year does Hosmer need to avoid being considered a bust?
Be careful about that label. Its not too long ago that it was being applied to Alex Gordon, and he might now be the clubs best all-round player. But I get your point.
A return by Eric Hosmer to the level of production he displayed as a rookie would assuage those thoughts. Anything more would be a plus. For what its worth, every scout I know says hes got too many tools not to succeed.
@janello721: Why do I keep hearing the name Miguel Almonte can you give me some background on this kid Thanks
You could be hearing a lot more of him after a breakthrough season a year ago in the low minors. A Dominican who turns 20 in early April, he already shows feel for the strike zone with a three-pitch repertoire.
My guess is he opens the season at Class A Lexington.
@jeff_fett: In the end, is this a make or break year for Dayton Moore? Could you see Glass firing him if the Royals finish below .500?
Moore is under contract through 2014, and I think hes pretty safe through this season unless the bottom just falls out. But there will be some serious hand-wringing if the Royals approach 90 losses again.
@HitTheBallKC: At a ST game Last week noted regulars left stadium end of 7 with Willie Wilson and John Mayberry. Is this normal?
Absolutely normal. The standard rule is everyone stays for five innings. After that, the guys who wont be playing (pitchers usually) can exit. Regulars can leave once they exit the game.
Nearly every club handles it in similar fashion.
@P2Danaher: Is Johnny Giovatella's glove that far behind Getz's?
Johnny Giavotellas defense has improved significantly over the last year but, even to my eye, Chris Getz is a clearly better defensive player.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.