Royals Q and A with Dutton: Pitchers and catchers report today

The countdown continues. Today is the official reporting day for pitchers and catchers, although that is something of an anachronism in recent years.

Reporting day is usually a day of little activity.

Players merely have to report in, and they can do so with a phone call. In fact, many players stay away from camp on reporting day because it’s the last “free” day before camp starts.

Pitchers and catchers begin their official workouts on Tuesday. All seven catchers have already reported and taken part in conditioning workouts. Only a handful of the 34 pitchers have yet to work out.

The infielders and outfielders, many of whom are also here, must report by Thursday. The first official workout is Friday, and all workouts are free and open to the public.

The Royals open their Cactus League schedule a week from Friday – Feb. 22 – with the first of three straight games against complex co-tenant Texas at Surprise Stadium.

Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Now, on to today’s exchange:

@texred: In phoenix now. Anything to see before the ST games start?

Official workouts are held every morning. Access is easy, and fans can get close. If you’re an autograph hound, you’ll never have a better chance. Just wait until players are exiting the fields after the workouts, approach and ask politely.

@dgdowner2: disturbing reports on the health of Shields. Heard any inside scoop that says we might have gotten damaged goods?

I read the zone-percentage numbers crunching by fangraphs.com, which is a fascinating site. It’s interesting, but I think it’s drawing the worst possible conclusion. One year can be an anomaly. A lot of pitches are pitches thrown out of the zone. Etc.

Injuries are possible with any pitcher, but Shields made at least 31 starts and worked at least 203 innings for six straight years while pitching as regular as clockwork. His velocity is also steady.

Shields will be tracked closely this spring and throughout the year in everything he does. So if there are any early signs of problems, they’ll probably get noticed.

@sodpro: I’m having a hard time seeing two long men, Chen and Mendoza, in the pen as being the best use of a bullpen. Your thoughts?

I think the Royals are going to carry two long men. Manager Ned Yost likes the idea, and I don’t expect the club to cut Chen, Mendoza or Luke Hochevar. Since only one of them is likely to open the season in the rotation, the other two will probably serve as long relievers.

@rick_kohl: If Hoch and Chen don’t impress in ST, any chance Mendoza gets the number 5 starter spot?

There’s a chance, but everything points to Mendoza being third in the pecking order as camp opens.

@MoRaiderFan: are the #royals actively pursuing an extension for shields?

Not that I’ve heard, and I don’t sense any real urgency from either side to do an extension. I think the Royals would have to blow Shields away to get anything done at this point.

@dpartschNC: Assuming Shields, Guthrie, Santana, Davis, Chen/Hochaver are top 6. Who are the next 4 for Omaha?

If those six stick with the big-league club – a reasonable expectation barring injuries – the top candidates for Omaha are Will Smith, Nate Adcock, Ryan Verdugo and Chris Dwyer.

@Simmsbillj: what does Gio have to do to win 2b job this spring? Just hit? Or are the Royals looking for defense improvement also?

I think it’s a legit competition between Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz for the starting job at second base. I think Getz is the known quality in that the Royals can be reasonably certain of what he’ll provide.

Gio is the x-factor. His defense still needs to get better, but he showed real improvement last season in the closing weeks. I think it comes down to his bat. If he shows signs of carrying his minor-league success into the big leagues, I think it’s his job.

@catsfan20012002: I lost a lunch bet that the Royals would make the playoffs last year. Should I go double or nothing this year?

Can you afford to lose the bet? I think a winning record is a reason expectation this season. A postseason spot is possible, but some things need to go right – although not as many things as in previous years.

@daveo933: Odds that the Royals break camp with more than one outfielder and more in particular, David Lough’s odds?

A lot depends on whether club breaks camp with seven relievers or eight. They kept eight for much of last year, which pretty much leaves room for three backups: a catcher, a utility infielder and an outfielder.

If it is just one outfielder, it’s likely to be Jarrod Dyson, who is out of options.

@jeff_fett: If Santana is performing well in July and the team is mediocre, will the Royals consider trading him or sign him long-term?

Those circumstances would likely position Santana as a very attractive trade chip.