Royals Q and A with Bob Dutton

Keep those questions coming to @Royals_Report at twitter.com. I’m arriving later today in Surprise, Ariz., and hope to have some on-site reports for Friday’s question-and-answer session. Full coverage starts in Sunday’s paper.

First, some news: right-hander Luis Mendoza is already making a push for consideration for a spot in the Royals’ rotation. He carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning Wednesday night in pitching Mexico to a 10-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the Caribbean World Series.

It was Mendoza’s second dynamic performance in the Series and boosted Mexico into the title game against the Dominican Republic.

Until now, manager Ned Yost ticketed Mendoza for duty as a long reliever. Will that change? Stay tuned.

On to the questions:

@keithlrader: What are the best indicators during spring that Hosmer will have a better year than last? Other than numbers of course.

That’s tough to say because he had a good spring last year before hitting into tough luck when the season opened. But it would be a definite plus to see him hitting line drives with authority. That’s something we’ll be tracking.

@davidrand10: is the shields trade a success if it only nets 87 wins and 2nd place in the central in 13 and 14?

Well, you’ll have to decide that. The goal, certainly, is to win the World Series, but the Royals have had only one winning season since 1994. Reversing that malaise would be no small thing.

@SmugDingus: Are the Royals truly optimistic about Francoeur or just unwilling to take a bath on all those "Frenchy Quarter" t-shirts?

A little snark with your morning coffee. OK. I think it’s more accurate to say the Royals are willing to give Francoeur an opportunity to return to his 2011 form.

My guess, and that’s all it is, is he gets maybe 40 games or so to show some bounce back. If that doesn’t happen, I think they’ll dosomething. Just what they’ll do is hard to say at this point.

The most likely in-house solution would be to switch Lorenzo Cain from center to right and put Jarrod Dyson in center. Maybe David Lough gets an extended look. Or perhaps free-agent acquisitions Endy Chavez or Xavier Nady have shown they deserve a look.

The Royals could also make a trade. But the clear vibe from club officials is Frenchy won’t get 600 plate appearances again unless he shows real improvement.

@string3599: If they are 15 games under at the trade deadline, who are they most likely to trade?

How this for optimism before pitchers and catchers even report? Should that be the case, the likeliest candidates would be guys on short-term deal – such as pitcher Ervin Santana, who will be a free agent after the season.

I don’t think the Royals are prepared to blow up their young corps no matter how bad things are by late July.

@yankeerolo: Is Sugar Ray Marimon going to be fighting for any specific spot?

He’s in big-league camp as a non-roster invite, which means the Royals want to (a) give the major-league staff a chance to get a first-hand look and (b) expose him to big-league players.

It’s hard to picture a scenario in which he breaks camp with the big-league club. My guess is he opens the season by returning to Class AA Northwest Arkansas, although a promotion to Class AAA Omaha is possible.

@KCOracle: Royals seem to be candidate for four man rotation. Any chance Yost has guts to try it?

I don’t know about “guts,” but I’d be astounded to see Yost pitch guys on three days rest. A quick glance at the April schedule would permit him to ride with four starters (instead of five) on normal rest for most of the month. That’s a possibility.

@DanielSWesley: Rumor is the Astros are shopping Bud Norris. I don’t think the #Royals would have to give up much to get him. Possible move?

Don’t see it happening. The Royals like their rotation and believe they have several additional guys ready to compete for spots over the next year.

Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are on track to return to duty by mid-July. Will Smith remains in the picture, while Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer and John Lamb could all position themselves for a look prior to the end of the year.

@APhiLionel: have not heard Cheslor Cuthbert name much when talking about #Royals Breakout prospects. Are they still high on him?

Cuthbert is still just 20 and definitely remains a valued prospect, but he’s coming off a disappointing season – just .240 with a .296 on-base percentage at Class A Wilmington.

A year ago, he was drawing raves as another Miguel Cabrera. I haven’t heard that lately. This is a big year for him.

@gihnow: Can we stop referring to Tejada as "former MVP?" While true, misleads fans 2 believe he’s a viable present-day solution.

You’re free to do so, but.he is a former MVP.