Rotation candidates Will Smith and Yordano Ventura were among seven pitchers cut by the Royals before Monday night’s 8-2 loss to Texas at Surprise Stadium.
Five more players, all non-pitchers, were reassigned after the game to minor-league camp.
Smith was optioned to Class AAA Omaha along with fellow left-hander Everett Teaford and right-hander Nate Adcock. All three pitched previously in the big leagues and loom this season as likely recall candidates.
“I think that’s a fair assessment,” manager Ned Yost said. “Those are guys we could quite possibly see — depending on situations. These are guys we’re going to count on to be ready if we have a need.”
Smith, 23, was particularly impressive in yielding just two earned runs in 11 innings over four games. Adcock, 25, gave up one run and two hits in 8 ⅓ innings but walked walked four and hit two batters.
Teaford, 28, made only two appearances after battling a sore shoulder through the camp’s early week.
Ventura, 21, flashed the form that has the Royals seeing him as a front-of-the-rotation candidate. He was reassigned to minor-league camp along with right-handers Blaine Boyer, Michael Mariot and Brian Sanches.
The five post-game reassignments were catcher Adam Moore, outfielder Willy Taveras and infielders Christian Colon, Anthony Seratelli and Brandon Wood.
“Numbers,” Yost said. “We’ll bump (the regulars) up to seven innings and, next week, we’ll bump them up to eight and they’ll be ready to go. We’re starting to lose at-bats for position players and innings for pitchers.
“It’s time to make the numbers smaller.”
Players on the 40-man roster must be optioned, while those in camp as minor-league invites can simply be reassigned. The moves leave 39 active players on the big-league camp roster.
“I would say Mariot opened more eyes than Ventura did,” Yost said. “(Mariot) did everything he wanted to do. Coming into spring training, he wanted to make an impression, and he definitely did that.
“Ventura, we knew what he was. He continued his development to the major leagues. He’s not that far away. That’s for sure.”
Mariot, 24, spent most of last year at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, but he could be position to close games for Class AAA Omaha after registering three saves in seven appearances.
Cutting Smith and Ventura effectively leaves Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza as the only competitors for the fifth spot in rotation behind James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis.
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