The Royals are 9-0-1 in spring training so far, with their only “loss” happening in the second intrasquad game. As J.J. Cooper has pointed out, the Royals haven’t had an eight game winning streak since 2003.
So while it’s a great story for now, we have to remember that it’s just spring. Regardless, winning games in spring and playing well is probably better than losing games and playing poorly and the Royals have gotten good performances from most to this point.
Today’s victory came over the Cincinnati Reds, an easy 8-1 win that saw Mike Moustakas hit two doubles, Christian Colon drive in two, and Alex Gordon‘s first homer. Wade Davis threw three innings, piling up 39 pitches, 27 of them for strikes. He struck out three and gave up just two hits. Combined with his first start, he’s got five innings of work in and given up only three hits and no runs. For a guy who some are skeptical of as a starter (after two years of iffy work in that role in Tampa Bay), that’s a good way to introduce yourself to the Royals.
After the first seven games, the Royals hadn’t gotten a lot of power in the form of home runs. Then on Friday, Chris Getz, of all people, homered. On Saturday, Eric Hosmer and Moustakas homered. Today, Gordon homered. Maybe that’s a sign that the hitters are starting to get their timing down. Maybe it’s simply the randomness of a ten game sample.
Yordano Ventura pitched on Sunday and this spring he has 5.2 innings pitched, with only the Nelson Cruz homer in his first appearance as a blemish. He’s struck out four and walked none. Will Smith has thrown five innings and struck out six, and Donnie Joseph, who drew praise from scout/writer Bernie Pleskoff, has struck out seven batters in three innings. He struck out the side in his first two appearances, then the first batter he faced against the Reds on Friday. Then Derrick Robinson, former Royals farmhand, bunted his way on base to snap the string. He was left stranded on base.
Right now everything’s going well. Eventually, the Royals will lose a game, but until then, it’s fun to follow. There’s no pattern to spring training records, though. Some teams will win the year before and finish in the middle of the pack in spring training, but still win their division (like the San Francisco Giants). Some will roll through spring training and finish well below .500 (like the Toronto Blue Jays last year).
-A number of previews are popping up, including a couple of reports that included a lot of input from scouts. Some of it is just the usual stuff you here every spring. Some really pushes the strengths of James Shields. There are plenty of opinions from other teams who found the Royals moves in the offseason to be just what was necessary, and the players themselves seem boosted by the efforts. Dayton Moore says the timing was right (but, then, why would he say anything else?). Jeff Zimmerman at Royals Review offered some rebuttals, for what it’s worth.
-Monday marks the first day of minor league camp workouts. There may be some players reassigned this week, but there are short squad games and a loss of bodies due to the WBC, so we’ll see. The Royals may want to see Ventura another time and John Lamb probably gets some more innings in big league camp as well. Luis Durango, Anthony Seratelli, Sugar Ray Marimon and Michael Mariot would be my guesses for the first to get sent across the complex. I’m basing that mostly on their prospects to make the team out of spring training at all, plus the idea that guys like Brian Sanches and Blaine Boyer can fill in innings in big league games while Mariot and Marimon work on getting prepared for their roles in the minors this year.
-Eric Hosmer said he’s feeling more disciplined so far this spring, and he’s been hitting well. Or he was until Sunday when he struck out twice and grounded out. He’s still hitting .400/.478/.750 with a triple, two doubles and a homer. The standard spring training caveats apply, of course. He mashed last spring as well, only to struggle all season.
-The Royals are apparently looking at the outfield market. Probably a good idea if Jeff Francoeur struggles again and if Lorenzo Cain can’t stay healthy. Jarrod Dyson and even David Lough could be passable in part-time roles, but to have to rely on them for long stretches may not be the best strategy. If only they had a major-league-ready outfielder in the minors…(I kid, I kid. Kind of.)