Nine from Royals organization make WBC provisional rosters

The Royals will gather for spring training next month, but some players already know they will need to take a leave of absence.

That’s because nine players in the Royals organization were chosen to play in the World Baseball Classic, which begins March 2. The provisional rosters for all 16 teams were announced Thursday.

The lone Royal picked by Team USA manager Joe Torre was left-handed reliever Tim Collins.

Collins, 24, is 9-8 with a 3.49 ERA in 140 games over two seasons with the Royals. Last year, he was 5-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 72 games.

While Collins was traveling Thursday and not available to talk about his inclusion on the Team USA roster, Torre said pitching was key.

“The big puzzle is the pitching staff,” Torre said on the MLB Network. “The biggest gripe in the past from what I’ve been told is the fact the pitchers haven’t had enough work or pushed a little too much.

“We want to make sure we have the right number just to make sure we have what we need and they get what they need.”

Two Royals were picked for Team Dominican Republic: pitcher Kelvin Herrera and Miguel Tejada.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez was chosen to play for Team Venezuela, which is in the same group as Team USA. Left-handed starter Bruce Chen is on China’s roster, second baseman Irving Falu is on Team Puerto Rico and Luis Mendoza made Team Mexico’s roster.

Outfielder Paulo Orlando, who spent last season with Northwest Arkansas, the Royals’ Class AA team, will play for Brazil. Orlando's teammate at Northwest Arkansas Juan Carlos Sulbaran, was picked for Team Netherlands.

The WBC is a 16-team tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation after baseball was dropped as an Olympic sport. Japan won the first two WBCs.

There are four pools of four teams, and play begins March 2 with games in Pool A and Pool B in Japan and Taiwan. Pool C and Pool D play begins March 7 in Puerto Rico and Arizona. The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.

The semifinals and final are in San Francisco. The championship game is March 19.

The rosters announced Thursday are provisional. Full rosters are due Feb. 20, and no replacements can be made unless there is an injury.

Major League Baseball sought to blunt criticism that the players who take part in the WBC are prone to injury.

The MLB public relations department noted in a tweet that in April 2009, after the WBC, 17.8 percent of non-WBC players spent time on the disabled list compared with 9.5 percent of those who played.

Game times announced

On Thursday, the Royals announced their 2013 regular-season schedule with times.

The Royals open the season April 1 at 3:10 p.m. against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The Royals’ home opener is a week later against Minnesota. That game is also a 3:10 first pitch.

Other notable game times include a 1:10 p.m. start on Memorial Day, May 27 against St. Louis, a 1:10 start on July 4 against Cleveland and a 1:10 start on Labor Day, Sept. 2 against Seattle.

The Royals will have four 1:10 weekday contests: May 2 against Tampa Bay, June 12 against Detroit, Aug. 14 against Miami and Sept. 5 against Seattle.

The game on Saturday, June 8 against Houston is scheduled for a 6:15 start. Saturday home games against the Los Angeles Angels on May 25, against the White Sox on June 22 and July 6 against the A’s will all start at 1:10 p.m.

Otherwise, there are standard start times for the rest of the games at Kauffman Stadium. They are Monday through Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturdays at 6:10 p.m., and Sundays at 1:10 p.m.