SURPRISE, Ariz. — There’s a good chance, I think, that the Royals firm up their 25-man roster today for Monday’s season opener against the White Sox in Chicago.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals have already made two moves today: They optioned right-handed reliever Louis Coleman to Class AAA Omaha and reassigned catcher/first baseman Max Ramirez to minor-league camp.
That leaves just two decisions: the choice between Brett Hayes and George Kottaras for backup catcher; and between J.C. Gutierrez and Dan Wheeler for the final bullpen slot.
The Royals are also likely to set the rosters today for their four full-season affiliates: Class AAA Omaha, Class AA Northwest Arkansas, Class A Wilmington and Class A Lexington.
I’ll get the information out as soon as it becomes available.
The Royals, at 23-7-2, are coming off their worst day of the spring as they head into their final road game today against Cincinnati in Goodyear.
Wednesday saw Milwaukee apply a 9-1 afternoon beating to Luis Mendoza and a split squad consisting of backups and minor-league players in Maryvale.
The Royals then built a seven-run lead Wednesday night at Surprise Stadium for James Shields against the Chicago Cubs behind homers from Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Salvy Perez and Alex Gordon.
But Luke Hochevar, after inheriting an 8-2 lead, gave up five runs while getting just two outs in the eighth. Aaron Crow got the final out in the eighth but couldn’t hold a 9-7 lead in the ninth.
The result was a 9-9 tie in a game called after 10 innings.
Those are two alarming performances: Hochevar showed the same inability to limit damage that so often tormented him as a starter; and Crow again showed the inability to pitch well in a second inning.
“Luke made good pitches,” manager Ned Yost insisted. “They hit good pitches. There wasn’t one pitch that was a mistake or one pitch that was a horrible pitch. Just one of those nights.”
A bad night. They’ve been rare.
Ervin Santana is scheduled today for his tapered start — four innings or 60 pitches — against the Reds. The same goes for Jeremy Guthrie on Friday against Cleveland in the spring finale.
Here’s the lineup for today’s game:
LF Alex Gordon, SS Elliot Johnson, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvy Perez, RF Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, 2B Miguel Tejada and Santana. No DH in today’s game.
I got a question in Wednesday’s exchange regarding a public site that shows whether a player has options remaining. I didn’t know of one and threw it out to you folks.
Turns out there is one for Royals’ players. Here’s the link.
Thanks to Nick Decker.
Keep those questions coming for one more day on Twitter to @Royals_Report. This daily exchange ends Friday morning, but I’m hoping to do something similar in the regular season on a more-limited basis.
@85royal: Can we assume both Hayes & Kottaras have been placed waivers, claimed and recalled? That's normal in ST, right?
That information isn’t released, but its seems a reasonable assumption that both candidates for the backup catcher’s job, Brett Hayes and George Kottaras, were sent though waivers to gauge interest in possible trades.
@AdamBurnsKC: What are the chances Hochevar is released before the opener?
What’s the closest point to zero without being zero?
@KcSportsDude: With Chen & Hoch to the pin. Looking back should we have kept Soria and let them walk. Knowing duffy & Paulino will be back?
The was no letting Bruce Chen “walk” unless the Royals were prepared to eat $4.5 million in guaranteed salary. The decision to tender a contract to Luke Hochevar was one of the winter’s endless debates.
The Royals wanted to keep Joakim Soria at a low guarantee, say $1 million or so, and significant performance bonuses bases on appearances because of uncertainty regarding his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
That seemed reasonable to me because bullpen help is not an area of need. The Royals needed to spend their payroll dollars elsewhere and, at the time Soria departed, the Royals had not yet made their trade with Tampa Bay.
Efforts to keep Soria ended when Texas offered of $8 million in guaranteed money over two years. Soria would have been foolish to turn that down, and I think the Royals would have been foolish to match it.
The Royals put this staff together under the assumption that anything they get from Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino will be a bonus. I think that was the right move, too. Both are coming back from major elbow surgeries.
@EJsBalls15: what kind of start could KC get off to that would see Yost fired? 10-20?
First, I get no sense that Ned Yost is on the hot seat. So that would have to change, and I doubt 30 games is enough time for that change.
@mtb5003: player who may come out of nowhere to have a major impact on this squad?
There’s unlikely to be anybody on the final roster who is a genuine surprise. So I don’t know about coming “out of nowhere.” But I think Elliot Johnson, through his versatility, may have a bigger impact than many people expect.
@Acouch190: what does falu need to improve to stay in the bigs ... he did a great job when he was up last year but that was only briefly
The Royals believe Irving Falu is good enough to hold a utility job in the big leagues. The don’t see him as a regular. Nor do scouts from other organizations. (They could all be wrong; it happens.)
Falu’s biggest problem is he still has options remaining. That makes him very attractive in terms of inventory. Call him up when you need him; send him back down when you don’t.
Elliot Johnson experienced much the same thing in recent years at Tampa Bay. Now, Johnson is out of options. And he’s likely to be in the big leagues all year.
@brian_mcgill: Any talk of skipping Mendoza in the first week of the season (because of the off day)?
That really can’t be done because the Royals, after an open date following Monday’s season opener, play eight straight days. So all five starters, including Luis Mendoza, need to start.
The tentative plan is to skip Mendoza once in mid-April when the open dates pile up to avoid having some starters work on six days rest instead of the usual four.
@ChrisWoerner: Any chance of seeing something similar to this on days when Perez doesnt catch to keep his bat in the lineup?
I’m assuming this is asking whether the Royals might (1) bench Jeff Francoeur by (2) playing Eric Hosmer in right field, which (3) opens a spot at first base for Billy Butler and (4) enables Salvy Perez to be the DH.
I think that’s unlikely.
All catchers, even Perez, need an occasional day off – especially considering the workload of 140-plus games that manager Ned Yost is projecting.
Also, I’m not sure how much we’re going to see Hosmer is right field. I remember what happened last year in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t pretty.
@pfunk270: I've seen @Brett_Eibner in @nwanaturals time line with a few multi hit nights ... hear anything about improved contact ability
Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo points to Eibner as a prime breakout candidate in 2013. He obviously sees something. I’d trust his eye over mine even if I was getting a good look at guys in the minors. And I’m not.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.