Royals Q and A: Shields pitches today

James Shields makes his much-anticipated spring debut today in a one-inning start against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Ariz. It’s just 32 days before he starts for real when the Royals open the season in Chicago.

If you’ve been playing along, you know Shields’ spring debut was delayed because pitching coach Dave Eiland believes six starts is the optimal number prior to the regular season.

Accordingly, Ervin Santana will make his debut Friday against Cincinnati, and Jeremy Guthrie goes for the first time in Saturday’s game against a San Francisco split squad. Both of those games are in Surprise.

It turned out the Royals were right in saying Alex Gordon’s back spasms were a minor ailment. He returned to action in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over Milwaukee after missing two games. Gordon went two for three.

The Royals are now saying Elliot Johnson’s bruised left knee, suffered Wednesday on a play at second, is a minor issue.

Center fielder Lorenzo Cain played for the first time Wednesday when he replaced Jarrod Dyson in the sixth inning. Cain had missed the first five games because of a strain near the knuckles on his right hand.

Cain made an impact: He walked in his only plate appearance, stole second and scored the winning run on Max Ramirez’s single.

Royals officials had no official reaction to the story in the

Tampa Bay Times

in which Rays manager Joe Maddon seemed to criticize their failure to turn outfielder Wil Myers into a “complete player.”

There were, generally, three unofficial reactions:

Maddon was deflecting the Rays’ intention to send Myers to the minors because of service-time considerations; conceding the Rays’ success in developing pitchers but questioning their success in developing “complete” position players; and shrugs.

Mostly shrugs.

Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is today’s exchange:

daniel_winans: Any trade value in Max Ramirez if paired with one of our extra relievers?

Maybe a little. Max Ramirez profiles as a right-handed DH who can play some first base and serve as a third catcher. He has some value to the Royals as a hedge against an injury to Billy Butler. (I’m not suggesting there wouldn’t be a drop off.)

Ramirez was available in the off-season as a minor-league free agent. My guess is he would have jumped at any big-league offer before choosing to return to the Royals on a minor-league contract.

@pandajerk01: Do u a case for Dyson as our starting CF if he out performs Cain?

It’s hard for me to see that happening prior to opening day – though far from impossible at some point during the season. Jarrod Dyson has the type of skill set that, if he can keep the ball on the ground, can enable him to be a productive everyday player.

I just don’t see the Royals taking the job away from a healthy Cain based on what happens in spring training.

@KDub_43: Looks like it’s going to be a crowded bullpen. With all the depth, will the Royals release one of the losers for the 5 spot?

Release one of them? Really unlikely. Trade one of them? Very possible if they get to late March with no injuries – and if they can get value in return. There’s no reason to think they’ll just dump one of them.

@poogles21: Who is more likely to win the second spot in the rotation Santana or Guthrie?

My guess is Ervin Santana, but that’s all it is.

@85royal: Did injuries permantly erode Moore’s skills or can he reclaim status as a true prospect compete for backup C for Royals?

I don’t know whether he’ll ever be viewed again as true prospect, but I think he’d have a real shot at the backup job if he weren’t in camp as a minor-league invite. That puts him at a huge disadvantage in competition with Brett Hayes and George Kottaras.

Moore can simply be reassigned to the minors without passing through waivers. Hayes and Kottaras are both on the 40-man roster and out of options. That means neither can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers.

The Royals do like Moore as organizational depth, and I could see circumstances unfolding this season in which he gets promoted to the backup job. I don’t see him breaking camp on the 25-man roster, however.

@fieldsman10: who will be the better acquisition: Shields for Royals or Alex Smith for Chiefs?

Look at it this waytake each guy off his new team. Which team is better positioned to field a capable replacement?

@Proud2bApstolic: in light of Hochevar’s horrific performance today is he still being considered as a candidate for the 5th spot?

I saw every pitch of the performance. It wasn’t horrific. I’m not as enthusiastic about it as Ned Yost – although Yost (a) knows more about it than me and (b) his opinion is one of the few that truly matters.

Luke Hochevar had some command issues the first time out in spring training. He gave up one hard-hit ball. It’s far from a deal-breaker. And not only is he still a candidate for the fifth spot; I’d still rate him as the favorite. (Although maybe a little less of a favorite.)

@DanRighterJr: Do know if James Shields is pitching Friday or Saturday?

Neither. He is pitching today against the Padres in Peoria. Plans call for him to work one inning.

@gabkris72: is Mendoza given fair shot if he clearly outduels Hoch Chen, or is he bullpen no matter what?

If Luis Mendoza “clearly outduels” Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen, I’d expect him to be the fifth starter.

@DBLesky: Rare #Chiefs question for @Royals_Report. Well sort of a Chiefs question. Do you see Alex Smith playing RF in place of Francoeur?

The Vulcans are right. Humor is a difficult concept.

@YeakelSteve: how do the royals keep both Gutierrez and moscosco if they are both lights out?

Barring injuries and/or a trade or two, I don’t see how J.C. Gutierrez and Guillermo Moscoso both make the 25-man roster if the Royals keep 12 pitchers.

@KCOracle: Still would like to know what Royals coaches/management mean with contant references to "command."How differs from "control?"

Synonymous. Like speed and velocity.