For Royals manager Ned Yost, the final spots on the Royals’ 25-man roster came down to a simple calculus. The Royals desired the presence of right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who won the final bullpen spot after a surprise camp performance. They also desired the speed of outfielder Terrance Gore, who will fill a bench role as outfielder Jarrod Dyson recovers from a strained oblique muscle.
In all, the Royals’ Opening Day roster, which was unveiled on early Sunday morning, offered few surprises. Wang and Gore had emerged as favorites to make the roster in recent days. Outfielder Reymond Fuentes, who started on Sunday, appeared locked into an outfield spot after the injury to Dyson. Yost said the Royals would not set a straight right-field platoon with Fuentes and the right-handed hitting Paulo Orlando. For now, Yost said, they will ride the hot bat with Fuentes, who emerged as a breakout performer in Arizona.
“We’ll play Paulo whenever we feel like it’s a good matchup,” Yost said.
Of Fuentes, he added: “He did what we hoped he was going to do when we came into spring training.”
The inclusion of Wang, meanwhile, marks the latest step in a remarkable career turnaround. At age 36, the former Yankees ace hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2013. He now appears poised to find a home in the Royals’ bullpen. To make room for Wang on the 40-man roster, the Royals placed left-handed pitcher Tim Collins on the 60-day disabled list. Collins is set to undergo his second Tommy John surgery after suffering a rehab setback this spring.
Wang arrived at camp as a long shot to make the club. He impressed the Royals’ coaching staff with a steely posture on the mound and a sinking fastball that touched 95 mph.
“We really like the sinker,” Yost said. “We envision him being a fifth- or sixth-inning guy for us, maybe even a seventh-inning guy if we need a double play. He’s got a lot of action on that sinker.”
The Royals also officially Dyson on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 25. Dyson suffered a strained right oblique in the Royals’ spring training opener. The club also re-assigned four players, including utility man Whit Merrifield, to minor-league camp. Left-handed pitchers David Huff and John Lannan, as well as infielder Cody Decker, were also sent down.
Merrifield, 27, had a breakout spring training and emerged as a candidate for the final bench spot. But Yost preferred the speed and pinch-running ability of Gore, especially while Dyson finishes his rehab. Merrifield is also not a member of the Royals’ 40-man roster, meaning his inclusion would have required another corresponding roster move.
The alignment could last just weeks. When Dyson is ready to return, Gore will likely find himself returning to the minor leagues.
It’s official: Young to start Tuesday
Right-handed pitcher Chris Young will start Tuesday against he Mets, Yost confirmed on Sunday. Young will take the spot of Ian Kennedy, who will be pushed back four days after suffering from a bout of hamstring tightness. Kennedy said Friday that his condition was improving and he likely could have started Tuesday. But the Royals will play it cautious in the opening week of the season.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura will remain in his scheduled spot, opening the season Friday night against the Minnesota Twins. Kennedy will start on Saturday while opening day starter Edinson Volquez will return on Sunday.
With three off days this week, the Royals will skip right-hander Kris Medlen during the first turn through the rotation.
Royals’ full 25-man roster for opening day
No. 17 — Wade Davis, R/R, 6-5, 220, 30
No. 41 — Danny Duffy, L/L, 6-3, 205, 27
No. 53 — Dillon Gee, R/R, 6-1, 205, 30
No. 40 — Kelvin Herrera, R/R, 5-10, 200, 26
No. 44 — Luke Hochevar, R/R, 6-5, 225, 32
No. 31 — Ian Kennedy, R/R, 6-0, 200, 31
No. 39 — Kris Medlen, S/R, 5-10, 190, 30
No. 48 — Joakim Soria, R/R, 6-3, 200, 32
No. 30 — Yordano Ventura, R/R, 6-0, 180, 25
No. 36 — Edinson Volquez, R/R, 6-0, 220, 32
No. 32 — Chris Young, R/R, 6-10, 255, 37
No. 67 — Chien-Ming Wang, R/R, 6-4, 225, 36
No. 9 — Drew Butera, R/R, 6-1, 200, 32
No. 13 — Salvador Perez, R/R, 6-3, 240, 26
No. 24 — Christian Colon, R/R, 5-10, 190, 27
No. 2 — Alcides Escobar, R/R, 6-1, 185, 29
No. 35 — Eric Hosmer, L/L, 6-4, 225, 26
No. 14 — Omar Infante, R/R, 5-11, 195, 34
No. 25 — Kendrys Morales, S/R, 6-1, 225, 33
No. 8 — Mike Moustakas, L/R, 6-0, 215, 27
No. 6 — Lorenzo Cain, R/R, 6-2, 205, 30
No. 34 — Reymond Fuentes, L/L, 6-0, 160, 25
No. 4 — Alex Gordon, L/R, 6-1, 220, 32
No. 0 — Terrance Gore, R/R, 5-7, 165, 25
No. 16 — Paulo Orlando, R/R, 6-2, 210, 30