The question Eric Hosmer heard the most from his friends in Miami is a familiar one for Kansas City fans.
Would Alex Gordon have been safe?
It is one for eternal debate here, because third-base coach Mike Jirschele held Gordon rather than sending him in the final inning of the final game of the World Series. Jirschele did not want to test the rocket arm of Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had already received the baseball as Gordon reached third. Salvador Perez popped up for the final out of the season soon after.
Hosmer, like the rest of the Royals organization, gives a familiar answer to the question.
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“I personally thought he had no chance at making it at home,” he said during a break in the action at Friday’s FanFest at Bartle Hall.
Manager Ned Yost agreed. He relayed the reasoning espoused by general manager Dayton Moore.
“I think Dayton’s got the best response, when they ask him about it,” he said. “He’ll ask the fans who ask him about it, ‘Do you know the third-base coach’s name?’ And most of the time, they’ll say, ‘No, not really.’
“And he’ll say, ‘Well, you would know it if he would have sent him there. Because it would have been the dumbest thing in baseball. Everybody would know his name.’
“So, no. He shouldn’t have sent him.”
The road ahead for Finnegan
Brandon Finnegan, the rookie southpaw who stabilized the team’s bullpen during September and October, figures to play a prominent role for the Royals in 2015. That exact role has yet to be determined.
The team intends to let Finnegan work as a starter during spring training, assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told The Star earlier this month. Finnegan will be one of at least 10 starting pitchers in the mix early on in camp. But with five spots in the rotation already expected to be filled, Finnegan has two paths ahead of him: He can either help the big-league club as a reliever or head to the minors to polish his repertoire as a starter.
How the team decides to use him depends on a myriad of factors, but there is a strong pull within the organization to let Finnegan develop as a starter. The club drafted him in the first round last summer out of Texas Christian for that purpose. Finnegan did not hide his zeal for the rotation.
“I would not mind being in the ’pen at all,” he said. “It’s fun. I like hanging out with those guys down there. But also, starting’s fun, too. I like starting. I’ve done it my entire life.”
Slowed down spring
Yost was already planning to ease outfielder Alex Gordon into action this spring as Gordon returns from wrist surgery. But Yost also explained how he’ll be careful with other veterans on the club.
Salvador Perez set a major-league record with 158 starts behind the plate in 2014. Yost has sworn he can’t replicate that feat. He intends to pair the team’s backup catcher, likely Erik Kratz, with one member of the starting rotation. That way, Yost will be forced to sit Perez once every five days.
Yost also wants to be careful with shortstop Alcides Escobar and second baseman Omar Infante. Escobar started every game for the club last season. Infante struggled in the second half because of issues with his right shoulder.
“We’re planning again on playing deep into October,” Yost said. “So we’ll go slow in the beginning, and make sure everybody is ready to go Opening Day.”
Rios happy to be healthy
The Royals inked outfielder Alex Rios to a one-year, $11 million contract with the hope he could bounce back from a deflated offensive performance in 2014.
“I’m 33 years old,” he said. “I’ll be 34 in a week. And I feel like I was 25. So that’s a good thing.”
After averaging 18 homers a year from 2005 to 2013, he went deep just four times for Texas last season.
A pair of nagging injuries, to his right ankle and his right thumb, contributed to his decline. He required a minor operation in September to clean out his thumb. The ailment caused him to play “in a lot of pain,” he said.
“It feels good to be back in normal shape,” Rios said. “Hopefully that’ll let me do some damage.”