Friday, March 21, 2008

ST Game #21

Game Date: March 20, 2008
Royals 11, Brewers 3 / Box Score
Royals Spring Training Record: 11-10

Wasn't it nice to be able to watch a Royals game on FSN for the first time this spring?

We heard quite a bit during the broadcast about Brett Tomko and his new spike curveball, which in my day was called a knuckle curve. And we heard that the major problem with Tomko this spring has been the similar speed of all his pitches. Pitching coach Bob McClure and manager Trey Hillman have been trying to get Tomko to throw his breaking pitches, primarily his change up, much slower. At the beginning of spring, he was throwing it 87 mph and his fastball was around 93 mph--not much of a difference, making it easy for hitters to tee-off on him. Last night, Tomko had has change up in the low 70s, so now he has about a 20 mph variance, which should help. Of course, he still has an ERA of 8.59, but that doesn't seem to be bothering McClure or Hillman.

I like what I saw from David DeJesus in the first inning. He looks confident at the plate and he's reportedly been working on taking more pitches. [It appears like many others are embracing this philosophy as well...we drew six more walks last night.] He worked the count to 3-1 before he singled the opposite way. He stole second base and scored on a single by Jose Guillen. All of that set the stage for a two-run bloop-single into right field off the bat of Ryan Shealy, which brought in two more runs. Before the inning was over, the Royals had a 4-0 lead.

Seeing Mark Teahen hitting in the seven-hole looks funny, but it sounds like he might be there quite a bit this season, which would certainly take the pressure off him, but it would put it squarely on the shoulders of Alex Gordon, who hit number three last night and he looked pretty good doing so. He was 2-for-3. Teahen was 1-for-2 with a walk.

If you listened to what Hillman said between innings, you get the feeling that Ryan Shealy might not making the Opening Day roster. He isn't crazy about carrying a lot of first basemen and Ross Gload can play multiple positions, so he seems secure. Hillman also said that he plans to play Teahen at first base during the final week of Spring Training and if he can be adequate over there, coupled with the play of Gload and occasionally Billy Butler, then it might end up taking an injury to one of those guys for Shealy to get another chance any time soon.

Speaking of Teahen--he looks uncomfortable in left field to me. He had a ball hit at him last night and he misplayed it, allowing it to get over his head and it rolled all the way to the fence. I love his willingness to play wherever the teams needs him, but I don't like the fact that he's on another new learning curve defensively while at the same time trying to find his old stroke at the plate.

Hideo Nomo was impressive in relief last night. He struck out three and didn't issue any hits, walks, or runs in two innings of work. His ERA is down to 4.85 and I'm sure he's still in the running to win a spot in the bullpen.

This afternoon, Gil Meche will make his final start of the spring. He'll go against Erik Bedard of the Mariners.

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