Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spring Training Notes, Volume 1

--Reports say that Mark Teahen’s right shoulder is good to go following off season surgery. He brought his infield and outfield glove with him—anticipating the switch to right field. I’ll be interested to see how this experiment with Teahen shakes out during the spring. Presumably, he’ll be taking Reggie Sanders spot in right and Sanders will move to left, which leaves Emil Brown as the odd man out—or maybe he’ll platoon with Sanders. I can’t see taking Teahen’s bat out of the line up, except when he needs rest.

--Zack Greinke is throwing “free and easy” so far. If Zack can get past his social anxiety problems and if he can learn to pitch for the sake of getting guys out, rather than simply selecting pitches and arm angles simply because they look “cool,” then he would be a welcome addition to the Royals staff.

--Alex Gordon knows that he’s probably going to break camp with the major league ball club and be the starting third basemen on opening day. He’s even wearing number 7 already—as opposed to 89 or some other crazy number other rookies might be forced into. Here’s what Bell said about his chances of making the club: “We’re going to give him every opportunity to make the club. But we’ve got to make sure we do what’s best for Alex Gordon. Because if we do that, that’s what will be best for the organization—and the fans—in the long run.” I guess he’s leaving the door open for sending Gordon to Omaha to start the year if he only hits .269 in the spring. I don’t see that happening.

--Ryan Shealy reported to camp yesterday. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last October. No big deal if you ask him. “I had it cleaned up, it was real minor,” Shealy is quoted as saying in this article on the Royals website: “I was off the crutches in a day and running around a couple of weeks after that. It was just bothering me the whole last part of last year. It was something I could play with and it was fine. But then with getting the time off, I just figured it was a good time to just get it cleaned up. I'm ready to rock and roll now.”

--Brandon Duckworth is reportedly throwing pain free. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in August. He’s put up great numbers in the minor leagues during his career (75-39 with a 3.58 ERA) but his major league numbers are far from impressive (17-26 with a 5.43 ERA). At 31 years old, it would seem that he’s reaching a stage in his career when it’s now or never.

--Sounds like Scott Elarton is making good strides on his comeback. Here’s what the Star is reporting: “Veteran right-hander Scott Elarton will throw a supervised session today from a mound for the first time since July 16, when he made his last start before undergoing surgery Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum.” Elarton said that his doctor is saying he should be ready around May 1. By then, the rotation may have sorted itself out. If my memory is correct, the Royals are paying the guy $4 million this season, so once he’s ready, I’m sure they’ll find a spot for him in the rotation—even after a disastrous 2006 season in Royal blue (4-9, 5.34 ERA).

--Andres Blanco is making small progress after having surgery on his left shoulder at the end of last September. He’s a switch-hitter who can’t swing right handed yet. He is taking ground balls and throwing though. Given his light hitting numbers, he really can’t afford to start the season injured if he wants to make the major league club—especially since Esteban German is expected to see some action at shortstop this season and Angel Sanchez is waiting in the wings, so to speak, as is Alex Gonzalez.

--Bob Dutton is saying that we need to be watching for a left-hander named Neal Musser “as an early candidate to emerge this spring as the big surprise in the Royals’ camp.” The Royals put the 26-year old on the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He’s 50-47 in his 7-year minor league career with a 3.98 ERA—during which he’s primarily been a starter. The Royals noticed that he had better velocity out of the pen and they were impressed by his efforts out of the pen in both Wichita and the Arizona Fall League. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs in camp.

--Zach Day is said to be ahead of schedule following his surgery last July to repair a partial tear in his right rotator cuff. According to this, he probably won’t break camp with the club, but he may be a possibility for the rotation as the season progresses.

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