The combination of Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura represents both an asset and a quandary for the Royals. They are two talented young pitchers who the organization believes will be critical to their future. They are also critical to their present.
There is one spot open in the Royals rotation. Duffy and Ventura are two of the four main candidates (along with Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar). The dilemma for the Royals is where to place the pitcher who does not win that fifth spot.
Manager Ned Yost has been open about how either pitcher could be potent in relief (although some in the organization wonder whether Duffy’s shaky command may be hampered by short bursts of activity).
"Here’s our focus: At the end of spring training, we’re going to put together the best pitching staff that we could assemble," Yost said on Tuesday morning. "And if that means that one of these young guys we feel makes our pitching staff better in the ‘pen, we’ll do it. If it’s Hoch or Davis or whatever and we feel our best pitching staff is with them in the ‘pen, we’re going to do it.
"But, again, there’s too many things that have to happen before we come to those decisions."
The other path for Duffy/Ventura: Go to Class AAA Omaha, work as a starting pitcher and prepare for an arrival later in the season. But Yost, of course, is in charge of winning in 2014, not winning in 2017. Here is his rationale for balancing the short-term gain versus the long-term development.
"Look, you’ve got short windows," he said. "There’s not a lot of teams out there like the Braves that won 14 consecutive division championships, right? Windows, they tend to be two, three, four years long. And I think when you get in those windows, you better take full advantage of it."
A friendly reminder: Today is Feb. 18. No Cactus League games have been played. No decisions have been made. No roles have been decided (save for James Shields pitching Opening Day, Greg Holland closing and Tim Collins probably facing a lot of left-handed hitters). But if the Royals do keep either Duffy or Ventura for the big-league bullpen, this is part of their rationale.
A few other notes from the morning:
1. Yost says all his players are still healthy.
2. Yost expects no delays for any players for Wednesday’s full-squad report date.
3. It’s another day of live batting practice. Veterans like James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas will take the mound.
4. Yost on how Duffy looked during his throwing on Monday: "Fine." So there is that.
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