SURPRISE, Ariz. It’s getting close to what Royals manager Ned Yost likes to view as the “2 second” point in the decision-making process regarding roles and roster decisions prior to the April 1 opener in Chicago.
Yes, that needs explaining. Hold tight a moment.
Yost is promising to announce the order of his starting rotation Friday at some point. It will be a surprise if it isn’t James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis and Bruce Chen.
Yost is certainly capable of a surprise, particularly regarding the final spot -- a battle between Chen and Luis Mendoza. But Yost seems to tip his hand every time he refers to Mendoza as “a perfect long guy.”
It also now appears Yost will employ a five-man rotation from the start of the season even though the schedule offers the opportunity to keep the top four on regular rest while using the fifth guy just once in the first 21 games.
“I’m probably going to roll five,” he admitted. “I think these guys are all going to throw 200 innings, and I don’t want them worn out at the end of the year. I want to give them their break when they get their breaks.
“I don’t want to pound them too much early. Wade Davis is a guy who is coming back (from a year of pitching 70 ⅓ innings in the bullpen). I want to make sure I don’t burn them out.
“I’m not 100 percent sure. I’m still trying to weigh the benefits of it, but I’m leaning that way.”
Similarly, Yost confirmed he’s “pretty firm” the Royals will break camp with a seven-man bullpen. Barring injuries, that leaves just one available spot since he has long maintained the unit has six locks:
Closer Greg Holland, set-up relievers Kelvin Herrera, Aaron Crow and Tim Collins, along with Luke Hochevar and either Mendoza or Chen.
Determining that seventh guy, along with picking a starting second baseman (Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella) and a backup catcher (Brett Hayes or George Kottaras)...remember that 2-second point?
“I saw an interview one time with a fighter pilot,” Yost recalled, “and they asked him: 'If your plane was crashing, and you had 15 seconds until you hit the ground, what would you do?’
“The fighter pilot gave what I thought was a great answer.
“He said, `I’d consider all of my options for the first 13 seconds; then I would act.’ That makes sense to me. You take your time, if you have time, to consider all of your options. Then you make a decision.
“I want to give these guys a full opportunity right down to the time we have to make a decision. That’s my philosophy.”
That doesn’t mean those decisions will come down to March 29, when the Royals break camp after their game against Cleveland at Surprise Stadium. It’s likely to be a few days before that.
“Tuesday or Wednesday,” Yost suggested. “I’d prefer not to (wait until Friday, March 29). I’m not saying we won’t, but you want to do it with a couple of days left in spring training so the group can work together.”