The Royals played their seventh Catcus League game on Friday, and there was at least one constant in the previous six.
Closer Kelvin Herrera has yet to make an appearance, and he didn’t face the Dodgers on Friday either.
There is no need for concern from Royals fans, because this is by design. With the early start of spring training this year, manager Ned Yost said he is bringing Herrera along slowly.
“It’s a long spring,” Yost said Friday. “That’s the only reason.”
Herrera is expected to throw on Monday when the Royals take on the Diamondbacks at Surprise Stadium.
Over the last three seasons, Herrera has appeared in 236 games, throwing 240 1/3 innings. He’s accumulated 73 holds in that time, helping the Royals keep a lead for either Greg Holland or Wade Davis to close out.
Holland is now with the Colorado Rockies and Wade Davis is with the Chicago Cubs, so Herrera was elevated to the closer’s role. It’s not an unfamiliar position for Herrera.
A year ago, Davis spent two stints on the disabled list and Herrera ended up saving 12 games. He was the closer in August and collected 10 saves and had a 2.35 ERA, with 18 strikeouts and one walk in 15 1/3 innings.
The Royals see no need to push Herrera at this point.
“We know what he is and we know his work load will be probably be pretty extensive during the season,” Yost said. “No sense to pound him now, so you bring him along slow, just like we’re along out starters slow. It’s just the extra time.”