Today’s biggest notes seem to be outfield-related.
First, Bob Dutton was able to get more information on Lorenzo Cain, who was held out of batting practice with some hand issues. It’s apparently a strain between metacarpals on his right hand. So far, the Royals are saying it’s nothing serious and he’ll be right back out there in a couple days. This is an important year for Cain and for his sake (and the Royals) hopefully that assessment is right. He’s going to have a full season to escape the “injury-prone” label.
If Cain ends up being hurt, the Royals will really have to get a good season out of Jeff Francoeur to make up for the production they expect from the outfield. Jarrod Dyson would step into the center field spot but it’s really Francoeur who has to step up. He’s aware of the criticisms out there and said today that he’d be leading the charge against him if he were on the outside looking in. He told Joel Goldberg that he’s been working with Alex Gordon, a known “workout freak“, as early as 6:45 a.m.
Francoeur also mentioned that he sees Gordon’s work ethic as an example and sees him as a leader. That’s an interesting shift, as Francoeur is usually the poster child for the “good locker room guy” and Gordon’s more of the quiet type by most accounts. That example does stand out, though, and the results of the past two years has to add some weight. Gordon later said that he’s been around long enough to get onto a teammate if he needs to. I’ve thought that Francoeur had a small role in Gordon’s turnaround in 2011, even if it was just by being able to relate to the pressures of being a young star and face of the franchise. To see it flip is an interesting development.
Eric Hosmer has to turn it around and he’s looking at curveballs from the pitching machine in the cage this spring. He told Goldberg that most pitchers don’t throw as many and he’s taken the advice of Albert Pujols in order to see a steady diet in the early stages. Most think he’ll be able to get things turned around this year, which makes him vital to any playoff push. The Royals will play against the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies in April, so the Royals will have to choose between he or Billy Butler. Or they can try to work Hosmer in the outfield again, as they did last season during interleague play. Ned Yost said that Hosmer will see some time out there this spring as additional depth but not necessarily because of interleague play. I suppose if Cain ends up hurt again, Hosmer’s another potential option in the outfield, but I really don’t see that as very likely unless the Royals get desperate.
Tuesday is the first intrasquad game of the spring and the Royals have announced lineups. They’re going with a USA vs. the World theme, so Nathan Adcock will start against Bruce Chen. The US will start (in this batting order) Gordon, Chris Getz, Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Francoeur, Dyson, Elliot Johnson, Brett Hayes and Adam Moore (at DH) against the World’s lineup of Luis Durango, Alcides Escobar, Miguel Tejada, Salvador Perez, Max Ramirez, Endy Chavez, Irving Falu, Willy Taveras, and Luis Rodriguez (DH). Butler and Johnny Giavotella will substitute in for Hosmer and Getz.
The Royals have another intrasquad game on Wednesday before spring training games start against other teams. They’ll face the Texas Rangers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
And then we all get to obsess over spring training stats.