Good thing that Cactus League crown is clinched. Or that none of this really counts. Or both.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals experienced their worst day of spring Wednesday in a split-squad day/night doubleheader. The first game, a 9-1 loss to Milwaukee in Maryvale, was bad enough.
But the nightcap was far worse.
The Royals, in a game televised back home, squandered a seven-run lead before settling for a 9-9 tie with the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings at Surprise Stadium.
The Cubs trailed 8-2 in the eighth before scoring five runs against Luke Hochevar and trailed 9-7 before scoring twice in the ninth against Aaron Crow.
Before that collapse, James Shields tuned up for his start on Opening Day by working five strong innings. The Royals also hit four homers and got a six-for-six performance from Chris Getz.
I ended strong, Shields said. I felt really good out there. Very crisp. My direction to the plate was really good, and I was pounding the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters for the most part. It was a good way to end.
It seemed that way when he departed.
The Royals are 23-7-2 with two games remaining. They built their 7-0 lead on homers by Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Salvy Perez and Alex Gordon.
Nothing went right in the opener.
Right-hander Luis Mendoza induced ground balls, as usual, but too many found holes as he yielded six runs and 10 hits over 5 ⅔ innings to the Brewers.
Three notable relief outings in the nightcap:
•Right-hander Luke Hochevar, so good in four previous relief appearances, experienced a meltdown in the eighth inning. He allowed five runs on five hits and one walk while retiring just two batters.
•Lefty Tim Collins retired two of three hitters after getting cuffed around in his two previous appearances. His spot on the roster solidified earlier in the day when Francisley Bueno and Donnie Joseph were sent to the minors.
•Right-hander J.C. Gutierrez worked a one-two-three seventh inning with two strikeouts. That makes two straight clean outings after some mid-March struggles.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar wax the only player in the starting lineup against the Brewers who projects to start Monday in the season opener against the White Sox in Chicago.
The decision to option Irving Falu to Class AAA Omaha effectively ensures former MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada will make the roster as a second utility infielder.
Tejada, 38, is batting .367 (11 for 30) after going two for three in the loss to Milwaukee.
That leaves just two roster decisions: George Kottaras or Brett Hayes as the backup catcher; and the final spot in the bullpen, where J.C. Gutierrez, Dan Wheeler and Louis Coleman are competing.
Tentative plans call for first baseman Eric Hosmer to play right field Thursday against the Reds in Goodyear and, yes, it could be a preview to next weekend in Philadelphia.
Well see, manager Ned Yost said. Frenchy (Jeff Francoeur) could start the year as our hottest player, and I wouldnt be taking him out.
If were facing lefties, Billy (Butler) could play (first), and well have Hos come off the bench.
The Royals optioned left-handed reliever Francisley Bueno and infielder Irving Falu to Class AAA Omaha prior to their night game. They also reassigned lefty reliever Atahualpa Severino to minor-league camp.
Those moves followed the morning decision to option lefty reliever Donnie Joseph to Omaha.
The Royals also re-signed outfielder Xavier Nady and lefty reliever George Sherrill to new minor-league contracts. Both were released late Monday prior to the deadline for qualifying for a $100,000 retention bonus.
Nady, 34, started at first base against the Brewers and went one for three with a homer and two strikeouts. He is 10 for 29 in 14 games. Sherrill, 35, is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
We like Nady, Yost said, because hes a multiple-position guy and a right-handed bat who can play first, some third and the outfield.
Sherrill has been very impressive on the side. Hes a funky lefty, and we need one. Im anxious for him to get back, but Im not to the point where I want to push him.
The Royals received minor-league outfielder Desmond Henry from Texas as the player to be named later in the Nov. 8, 2012 trade that sent reliever Tommy Hottovy to the Rangers.
Henry, 19, was the Rangers fourth-round pick in 2011 but had just six plate appearances last season in the Arizona Rookie League before getting sent following a June arrest for being a minor in possession of alcohol.
Hottovy, 29, is currently with Toronto following a Jan. 10 waiver claim. He compiled a 2.89 ERA last season for the Royals in nine appearances.
The latest numbers are out from Forbes magazine, which places the value of the Royals franchise at $457 million. Thats a 29 percent jump over 2012, but it ranks only ahead of Tampa Bay ($451 million).
Major League teams, including the Royals, have long disputed the Forbes figures. The magazine also contends the Royals generated $169 million in revenue over the last year up from $161 million in 2012.
Forbes further reports the Royals showed $16.3 million in earnings prior to interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That ranked 15th among the 30 teams.
The Royals play their final spring road game Thursday when the make the 18-mile trip south to face the Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear, Ariz.
Ervin Santana is ticketed for a tapered effort four innings or 60 pitches. Also scheduled: Bruce Chen, J.C. Gutierrez, Dan Wheeler and Louis Coleman.
Royals (RHP Ervin Santana) vs. Reds (RHP Mat Latos), at 3:05 p.m. Central time in Goodyear, Ariz.
Excited and honored to throw out the 1st pitch on opening day for the @whitesox.
Former Royals (and White Sox) outfielder Bo Jackson, confirming, through Twitter, that he will be throwing out the first pitch Monday in the season opener between the two teams at U.S. Cellular Field.
Countdown to Opening Day: Four days