Royals players hit the golf course

It sounds like the Royals had a great time Thursday in their team-building golf tournament at The Raven Golf Course. That many of the players had never played before only seemed to heighten the event.

“The highlight was Miguel Tejada hitting an exploding golf ball,” said right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who organized the outing. “We set him up. It was the first golf ball he’s ever hit — and it exploded. He freaked out. It was unreal.”

The winners of the scramble event were four new Royals: pitcher Wade Davis, catcher Brett Hayes and infielders Brandon Wood and Xavier Nady.

“A stacked team,” Francoeur said. “They were split originally, but then a couple of guys didn’t show up. The other six groups were already out there, so we had to combine their group.

“My team sucked. We got last place, but it was a lot of fun. We had 40 guys. We all went out to dinner and had a few beers. It was fun. Guys enjoyed it.”

The Cactus League season opens later today with the Royals playing the first of three straight weekend games against campus co-tenant Texas at Surprise Stadium. The game can be heard on KCSP (610 AM).

Conditions are close to optimal for this time of year. Clear skies with temperatures expected to be around 60 for the first pitch at 2:05 p.m. Central time.

The Royals are easing their projected starting pitchers into duty this spring because of the extended schedule. None will pitch until Tuesday, when Wade Davis will start the cycle.

Luke Hochevar starts Wednesday followed by James Shields, Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie.

Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report.

@BradShapiroKC: Why the daily Myers update? He is not a Royals player. Why no Esteban German update? At least he had played in majors.

Judging from my emails, texts and direct messages, a lot of people remain interested in Wil Myers. More than Esteban German, anyway.

@gillaspiewoods: Who is Guillermo Moscoso?

The Royals acquired Moscoso, 29, in a Nov. 2 waiver claim from Colorado, where he was 3-2 with a 6.12 ERA in 23 games (including three starts). The hope is he can recapture his 2011 form: 8-10 and 3.38in 23 games at Oakland.

When claimed, Moscoso projected as a strong candidate for the rotation, but that was before the club retained free-agent Jeremy Guthrie and acquired James Shields and Wade Davis in a Dec. 9 trade from Tampa Bay.

Moscoso now projects as a swingman candidate in the bullpen. He’s out of options but has no prior outright, which means the Royals could assign him to the minors if he clears waivers.

@fieldsman10: is it a good or bad thing that so many royals are participating in WBC?

It’s good in the sense that a larger number of players are judged to be good enough for their national rosters, but teams in any sport aren’t keen about losing players to international competitions.

While officials from all clubs are publicly supportive of the World Baseball Classic, many remain privately apprehensive. The real concern typically centers around starting pitchers, i.e., are they sufficiently conditioned for what they will be asked to do?

The Royals’ concerns are minimized here because Luis Mendoza is their only starter taking part in the WBC, and he threw 113 pitches as recently as Feb. 6 in the Caribbean World Series.

@Silly_Rabbott: What makes this year's team different from any of the (lackluster) #Royals squads of the past 20+yrs? No cynicism just curious

The rotation should be better than it was in most of those years, although the 2009 unit entered the season with high expectations. That improved rotation, if the attack improves as expected, should mean a lot more victories.

@ThomMcAleer: What's up with Giavitella? Is he even in the conversation to start at second? Or are we stuck with Getz?

Johnny Giavotella is starting today at second base in the Cactus League opener against Texas and is battling Chris Getz for the starting job.

@85royal: If Royals carry only two catchers, odds that Hayes or Kottraris clear waivers, and become starting C at Omaha?

That move would likely come near the end of spring camp – and it’s hard to predict who will and won’t clear waivers at that time. If someone has a real need for a backup catcher, the odds go way down.

@jeff_fett: Ryan Verdugo pitched well in Triple A last year. Whats the latest on him and where does he fit in the Royals plans?

My guess is he ends up back at Class AAA Omaha to open the season.

@ClintScoles: @Royals_Report, @NicolePoell when will we see the Media response dance?

Let me ask the former Kansas State Classy Cat and get back to you. She was very impressed by the impromptu Harlem Shake performance Thursday by Salvy Perez, Kelvin Herrera, Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza and Felipe Paulino.

@kc_at_the_bat: Would anything under .500 be seen as a failure this year? Vegas has Royals over/under at 78.5.

I think a winning record is a reason bar for this team. Remember, too, those betting lines are set in an effort to get equal wagering on both sides. It’s possible the Royals’ struggles over the last 20 or so years aren’t inspiring much nationwide faith.

@erickolkmeyer: why do they have to sign the young guys every year. Since they are under team control. Don't they sign a contract after draft

There is a pro forma aspect to it, certainly. Players who don’t yet qualify for arbitration have scant negotiating leverage.

@GarrySPark: how is John Lamb's recovery looking to you? His projection for the bigs? Enjoy your writing.

He passed the eye test — my eye test, at least — in his one-inning outing Wednesday in an intrasquad game. We’ll get a better look Sunday if he pitches, as scheduled, against the Rangers.

The primary goal this year for Lamb, in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, is to make 25 starts and pitch 150 innings. If all goes well, he could get a late-season look, but I think he’s more likely to be a candidate for the 2014 rotation.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.