A little more than a week remains before decisions must be made by the Royals brain trust, and the choice whether or not to include veteran Homer Bailey in the starting pitching rotation figures to make things interesting.
Bailey pitched four scoreless innings in his best outing of the spring and worked around the leadoff batter reaching base in each of the first three innings. He allowed four hits and one walk in a 6-2 split-squad win over the Milwaukee Brewers in front of an announced crowd of 9,855 at Surprise Stadium on Saturday.
The Royals have repeatedly expressed confidence in Bailey and his experience. Bailey, a veteran of 12 seasons in the majors, entered the day having allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings in his previous two games (one start).
“Like we talked about last game, you see things that you’re doing that you could be doing better,” Bailey said. “That’s what we did, just addressed a few things with getting good results. That’s kind of what spring training is for, I would say.”
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Bailey can opt out of the minor-league contract he signed with the team by March 25. Though when asked about it, he called the opt out “agent stuff” and said he pays somebody to worry about that while his focus stays on pitching.
The Royals must eventually sort out a five-man group from candidates Brad Keller, Ian Kennedy, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, Jorge Lopez, Heath Fillmyer and Bailey. Though they won’t need a fifth starter until 11th day of the season, and Duffy may begin the season on the injured list.
Maldonado getting closer: Royals catcher Martin Maldonado, who arrived at camp on Monday after signing a one-year contract, caught four innings on the minor-league side of camp on Saturday. He was also hit by a pitch during one of his plate appearances. He took his base after being hit, but a pinch runner was sent in for him anyway. He did return to his post behind the plate, though he moved gingerly.
Earlier in the morning, Royals manager Ned Yost said the plan included Maldonado catching four innings and then serving as designated hitter on Sunday before catching in the big-league exhibition game Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Duffy delay: Pitcher Danny Duffy threw on the side on Saturday, and Yost said Duffy was scheduled for two more side sessions before throwing a live batting practice session on March 25. Duffy was setback after being shut down with shoulder tightness early in camp. It’s becoming more evident that Duffy will likely have to remain in Arizona for extended spring training, though that determination has not officially been made.
Up next: The Royals will play the San Francisco Giants on the road at Scottsdale Stadium on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 p.m. (CT). The Royals list Brad Keller as the starting pitcher, while Kennedy, Michael Ynoa, Sam McWilliams and Richard Lovelady are also scheduled to pitch. KCSP 610 AM will carry the radio broadcast of the game.