Finally, baseball is officially back.
As pitchers and catchers start up in Surprise for the Royals, the first news and notes of the spring are bouncing around as reporters dig for information and quotes. So far nobody’s in the best shape of their life, but I’m sure somebody will be.
It’s not Sleezer quality, but here’s a shot of Shields explaining Perez how he prefers Perez set up for his pitches. twitter.com/Royals_Report/…
— Bob Dutton (@Royals_Report) February 11, 2013
Maybe it happens every spring, but that’s the first time I’ve seen a direct reference to the pitcher squatting down with his catcher to talk about positioning. Shields has that sort of reputation and it was enough for Danny Duffy to call him one of the best teammates he’ll ever have, for what that’s worth. No matter the hyperbole, Shields is making an impression.
Duffy’s got some work to do as well, and he’s going to be able to throw off a mound tomorrow. According to Bob Dutton, he’ll only make 20 soft throws, but he’s headed in the right direction. His surgery was eight months ago, so if he’s in the normal 10-14 month range of recovery (as he seems to be) he’s still in line for the June/July return everyone’s been expecting. He talked more about his rehab (and his hope to come back in May) on the Kansas City Baseball Vault two weeks ago.
Bob Fescoe passed some information via Twitter as well, sparking discussion. First, Ned Yost said that he thought Luke Hochevar could be a 15-18 game winner in 2013. For some perspective, the last pitcher to win 15 or more games for the Royals was Zack Greinke in 2009 when he won 16. Paul Byrd won 17 in 2002. Before that, you have to go to the mid-1990s to find a pitcher who’d won that many games. The last 18 game winner was Kevin Appier in 1993. So if Hochevar can do it, that’ll be impressive.
Fescoe also reported that Eric Hosmer tried to make adjustments on his own in the second half last year. New hitting coach Jack Maloof said that this made him more confused at the plate. There hasn’t been a lot said by the front office about the ouster of Kevin Seitzer after last season other than a stated hope for more homers and more willingness to pull the ball, but it’s been assumed that the struggles of Hosmer and Mike Moustakas (in the second half) sealed his fate. If what Maloof said is true, there could have been difficulty getting through to Hosmer or an unclear message. But that’s all my speculation. The statement suggests that a change was inevitable, with or without a change in philosophy.
But the most interesting news that Fescoe mentioned was a tweet saying that the Royals had a choice of Wil Myers or Salvador Perez as their price for a top starting pitcher in a trade. Myers has always been a top prospect, going back to the draft and his first days in the Royals organization. Perez only started rising in 2010 and 2011, but he’s now considered a central part to the Royals rebuilding efforts. That’s a tough call to make, but with position scarcity in mind and Perez’s contract to be considered, it may have been the right decision. On one hand, the Royals were in a position where whichever they chose, they’d have a potentially great player leftover after whatever deal they made.
Tomorrow, more workouts will take place (after physicals) as all pitchers and catchers have arrived.