The pitchers and catchers of the Royals convened for their first official workout on Saturday morning, with a team meeting planned for 9:50 a.m. Manager Ned Yost predicted little rhetorical flourish for this address.
The first Cactus League game is not until Feb. 27. At that point, the organization can begin sorting out the final touches to their pitching staff, which Yost predicts will be a quandary.
One complicating factor is the competition for the fifth starter spot. The four prime candidates are Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis. Longer shots include Chris Dwyer and Brad Penny.
Both Hochevar and Davis are more experienced than Ventura and Duffy, but they have struggled as starters. Shifted into relief last season, Hochevar responded with the finest season of his career, with a 1.92 ERA in 70 1/3 innings. Davis posted a 5.67 ERA in 24 starts, with a 0.90 ERA in seven relief appearances.
Ventura and Duffy each profile as a potential weapon out of the bullpen. A stint like that may delay their development as starters, and the organization is counting on them segueing into that role for the future.
For right now, the only left-hander ticketed for a spot in the bullpen is Tim Collins. Duffy would be an interesting complement. But Yost indicated he did not view carrying a second lefty as a necessity.
Until the chase for the last rotation spot is settled, the bullpen can’t be properly configured. So contenders such as Kelvin Herrera, Louis Coleman, Donnie Joseph, Francisley Bueno and others won’t know their fates until much later in camp.
“It’s going to be a big competition,” Yost said. “Our pitching is going to be probably the biggest area of competition we’ve got on our club. You’ve got spots for the backup infielder and spots for the backup catcher. But the pitching staff is going to be real, real competitive. But the good news is, however it shakes out, we’re going to have a hell of a pitching staff.”Report: Bonifacio to Cubs
One other note this morning: Emilio Bonifacio has signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs, Fox Sports reported. The Royals had released Bonifacio to make room for Bruce Chen on the 40-man roster.