Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Training Notes #5

The Royals have split their last two games and currently find themselves 13-11 in Cactus League play, which ranks them fifth among a dozen teams. Lots of news coming out of camp in the past couple of days:

First, Luke Hochevar has been sent to Omaha. This is disappointing to me. He had a 2.25 ERA in his three appearances and opponents were hitting just .226 against him. What more could he have done to win a spot in the rotation? They Royals didn't consider moving him to the bullpen, which I'm glad to hear, so he'll go into the rotation in Omaha. That leaves Brett Tomko, Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Davies, and John Bale to fight for the final two spots. Bale seems to have secured one of them, but then again, I thought Hochevar probably had too. De La Rosa and Tomko have been hit hard all spring. Davies has been decent.

The Royals are still waiting to hear from the Commissioner's Office regarding Jose Guillen and Miguel Olivo. Both have appealed their suspensions. No matter which way it's turns out, the Royals need to know as soon as possible so they can figure out what to do with their roster. Losing Olivo for five games would cost the Royals a roster spot and they'd have to open the season with 24 players instead of 25, and you'd have to assume one of those 24 would be a third catcher, so it would really stretch the rest of the roster during the opening week of the season. Guillen would miss the first 15 days of the season (12 games), but it wouldn't cost the Royals a roster spot.

Trey Hillman has announced that Billy Butler will mostly be a DH this season. That's hardly breaking news if you've ever seen Butler move in the field. Unfortunately that means the Royals may end up with an extra first baseman on the roster. I got the feeling a week or so ago that Ryan Shealy might not make the Opening Day roster, but here's what Hillman said about when discussing Billy Butler and the situation at first base recently: "I like the lateral range of (Ryan) Shealy and (Ross) Gload a little better than I like the lateral range of Billy Butler. But I've been very impressed with Billy’s footwork around the bag and his hands defensively overall."

Mark Grudzielanek is back in action. He hit a home run over the weekend, but he admitted that he felt like he "had 250 pounds of cement" in his legs." Grud is a great guy to have in the clubhouse right now and I'm sure he'll be able to help some of our younger guys like Alberto Callaspo, but you get the feeling that Grud's productive days are behind him. He's 37, he's battling injuries on a regular basis now, and his legs are heavy. I'm still rooting for him, but I'm not optimistic. Before the season is over, I wouldn't be surprised to see Callaspo as the regular second baseman.

Jorge De La Rosa will start for the Royals tonight against the Dodgers at 7:05 PM on FSN.

We're just one week from Opening Day for the Royals.

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