The Kansas City Royals have only lost 20% of their spring games thus far. Their victory Tuesday over the Seattle Mariners put the Royals at 23-6-1, good enough to clinch the absolutely meaningless Cactus league title. While the title carries no weight whatsoever, it is a fun fact and it should be stirring our excitement for the upcoming season. As I mentioned in yesterday’s recap, the record has been built mainly on unsustainable batting averages compiled through small sample sizes, maybe 15-20 games worth in the regular season. Still, it has us talking baseball and that can’t be a bad thing.
On the Mound
Since scheduled starter Bruce Chen was designated to start the season the bullpen earlier in the day, the Royals brought in minor leaguer Sugar Ray Marimon to start the game. Marimon pitch 4.1 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits. Greg Holland, Bruce Chen, Kelvin Herrera, and Louis Coleman combined for 3.2 scoreless innings. Tim Collins, continued his spring struggles as he surrendered two home runs in his one inning of work. Collins’ ERA now sits at 14.14 for the spring. As important as Collins has been to the Kansas City bullpen the last two seasons, there is no reason the Royals should feel obligated to go north with Collins on the roster. For once, the Royals have such depth with their pitching, especially in the bullpen, and they can afford to send Collins to AAA until he finds his groove. Dan Wheeler, Donnie Joseph, and Louis Coleman have all pitched well enough to deserve a roster spot.
At the Plate
The Royals stayed red hot, scoring 11 runs on 18 hits but most of the damage on Tuesday was generated by bench players trying to secure a job. Roster hopefuls Brett Hayes and Miguel Tejada led the charge. Hayes went 4-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI in his bid to win the back up catcher’s job. Tejada 3-5, also with 2 runs and 2 RBI, is trying to secure a utility spot. Jarrod Dyson pitched in 2 hits in 4 at bats, with 1 run and 2 RBI.
This and That
Luis Mendoza was named the team’s 5th starter and Bruce Chen will join Luke Hochevar in the bullpen. In some organizational moves, the Royals released Jose Jimenez, Leondy Perez, Michael Giovenco, and Elisaul Pimentel. All four were minor league pitchers at the A or AA level.
The Royals have a split squad day today. Newly anointed 5th starter Bruce Chen will take on the Milwaukee Brewers and James Shields will face the Chicago Cubs in his final spring outing as he tries to tune up for his Opening Day start.
AL Central Notes
Detroit Tigers: Rookie Avisail Garcia will start the season on the DL with a bruised heel. He probably wouldn’t have made the Opening Day roster any way. The Tigers finally named Rick Porcello the 5th starter. Drew Smyly will work from the pen.
Cleveland Indians: 42-year old Jason Giambi will start the season on the DL with a lower back strain but has made the team as a part time DH and pinch hitter. He will join the active roster when his DL stint is over.
Chicago White Sox: Recuperating starting pitcher John Danks will begin the season on the DL as he tries to build arm strength and velocity. He had shoulder surgery last season. Royal legend Bo Jackson will throw out the first pitch Monday when the Royals open the season in Chicago against the White Sox.
Minnesota Twins: While trying to protect his face from a line-up drive roped up the middle by Oriole second baseman Brian Roberts, starting pitcher Liam Hendricks was struck on the hand by the batted ball. At this point, it appears to be bruised hand and swollen pinkie finger. He is considered day-to-day ( aren’t we all?).