June 20, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Pedro Ciriaco (3) slides safely into third base for an RBI triple during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Finding a Role for Pedro Ciriaco


Jul 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Pedro Ciriaco (3) fields a ground ball during warmups prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In a time of specialized relievers and expanded bullpens, bench spots are at a premium. If a team can find a player that can play all over the field, that provides a lot more value than someone who can play only one or two positions at most. That position flexibility is a major reason why someone like Emilio Bonifacio is so valuable, since he can play six different positions and only take up one roster spot.

The Royals bench is likely to consist of Bonifacio, a backup catcher and a fourth outfielder. The biggest question mark heading into Spring Training may be as to who will take that final bench spot. Will the Royals go with five outfielders, leaving Bonifacio as the only backup infielder on the roster? Or will they look to have another utility infielder, so that Bonifacio does not need to play four or five times a week? Another option may end up being Pedro Ciriaco, a player who has displayed an ability to play virtually everywhere on the diamond.

Ciriaco has bounced around, as the Royals are his fifth organization. He had been the definition of AAA depth, being shuttled between the majors and the minors every season aside from his time with the Red Sox in 2012. However, during his time in the majors, Ciriaco has shown that he could potentially be similar to Bonifacio. He has a .277/.307/.385 batting line in his career, with 27 stolen bases in 32 attempts.

Pedro Ciriaco is certainly not a perfect player. Most of his extra base hits are due to his speed instead of any actual power, and he does not make nearly as much contact as one would like. Ciriaco also does not walk as much as would befit someone with his speed. However, Ciriaco has played every infield position and has also played all over the outfield. Sound familiar?

Another factor in Ciriaco cracking the lineup may be that he is out of minor league options. In order to get Ciriaco to Omaha, he would need to pass through waivers. Teams in need of a utility player who could play all over the diamond while contributing solid speed to the lineup would likely sign Ciriaco in hopes that he could turn into another Emilio Bonifacio.

Barring a trade, Pedro Ciriaco may be a longshot to be the 25th man on the Royals roster. However, if he does manage to claim that role, he could provide a valuable depth option, capable of playing almost every position on the diamond. If nothing else, that versatility could get him a long look in Spring Training.

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Tags: Kansas City Royals Pedro Ciriaco

  • LastRoyalsFan

    It seems like a pretty sure bet that Valencia makes the roster along with Bonifacio, a backup catcher and a fourth outfielder. The only question is whether the team feels they can take the risk of a breaking with a 6-man bullpen, which would allow them to keep both Maxwell and Dyson. The short pen might be an issue if they end up with both Duffy and Ventura in the rotation as neither have shown to be inning eaters.

    • Dave Hill

      Completely blanked on Valencia in this post. As I was writing it, I knew there was someone that I wasn’t thinking of. Thanks for picking that up.

      • kcstengelSr

        Outside the box, but another possibility:
        Still four man bench, but it is actually five if Billy Butler is traded, because DH rotates. We keep both Dyson and Maxwell. We keep Valencia. We have one substitute catcher and we have one utility infielder. We also have seven bullpen fellows.

    • jimfetterolf

      LRF, my assumption is that Ventura starts in Omaha to game service time and polish the 3rd pitch, but that still leaves either Hochevar or Davis in the rotation and they’ll either throw a nice seven innings or blow up in three. Both are capable of giving two or three innings, so could fill the long-man role. I would go with a six man ‘pen and pray, at least for a month. Not sure if Collins and Crow have options left.

      • moretrouble

        If their fifth starter is Ventura, they could possibly break camp with him going to Omaha to get regular starts. I haven’t taken a look at the 14 schedule, but often the fifth starter on the big club isn’t needed until late April. You may be right about that for three weeks or so.

        • jimfetterolf

          Two major considerations on Ventura; he needs to polish the third pitch and, as he’s seen as a top of the rotation talent, Super Two time. That suggests Omaha and either Hochevar or Davis beginning the year in the rotation to me.

          • LastRoyalsFan

            If that is the case I hope Davis is the one in the rotation instead of Hochevar. The transformation of Hoch from a terrible starter to a solid setup man was effective to the point that I don’t think they should mess with it. I see Davis as a middle innings guy and possible long man, with Hoch being used in a setup role.

          • jimfetterolf

            When Ventura comes back, if he goes down, that looks likely, keep Davis stretched out to see if he can keep his mechanics. This is Luke’s walk year, so I think they put him in a situation where he can develop the most value for an ASB trade. If he sticks with four pitches and retains his new found ability to limit damage from the stretch he’s a “closer” trade if he hasn’t reestablished himself as a starter. We’ll learn a lot in SP, both will get plenty of starts to try to win a rotation spot. If both fail they may have to start the season with Ventura.

          • moretrouble

            You could be right about Hoch or Davis starting the season in the rotation. Where we disagree, though, is on our assessment of Ventura. In my opinion, his breaking pitches look very good. He needs better command of his FB — and use his breaking pitches in FB counts.

            Where he’ll likely run into trouble is when he can’t locate those breaking pitches — and must rely on the FB — hitters will hit him hard. Yeah, he can throw super hard, but he’s still got to locate it. Otherwise, they’ll hit the sheet out of it.

          • jimfetterolf

            I’m thinking that I had read that he has a “hammer curve” but his CH comes in around 88mph with not enough movement. One thing Duffy learned from matching up against Verlander a few years ago is to vary the speed on the heater, not throw 98 every pitch, but vary down to 92 with location and motion, get hitters a little out front or a little behind. Like Herrera, Ventura gets best movement around 96mph, so that’s something they’ll work on. Also might be good to add a two-seamer.

            I’m ready for spring training :)

          • moretrouble

            Changing speed on the FB is something most pitchers do — it starts with the idea that they can hold back for certain times when they need a K. Frankly, they learn that in high school, LOL. Every pitcher finds a zone where his FB is controllable; it can be fairly wide. That’s where the verbage — “sits at ‘X’ , peaks at ‘X’” — comes from.

            I’ve seen Ventura throw superior change-ups. The challenge is to be confident enough that he can throw it for strikes in FB counts. Every pitcher on the planet must be a reverse pitcher at times — it’s the only way to be successful, for Verlander or anyone else.

          • jimfetterolf

            In the case of Duffy, he talked at some length about it a few years ago after losing to Verlander, like it was an epiphany for him.

            Pitchers can vary speeds, but will they on the mound against the best hitters in the world? Herrera has been challenged with that, Jeffress fell in love with the gun, that’s something I would guess that most big power pitchers have to work through at some point. In the case of Ventura, I’ve read his FB has the most movement at 96 but watching game day it looked like everything was at 99 or 100. Veralander is rare because he can command his FB between 92 and 102, that on top of a CH at 84, giving him an 18mph spread from the same release and slot, hard to time that.

          • moretrouble

            I’m sure it is instructive for ANY young pitcher to sit in the dugout and watch Verlander, or any other fine pitcher. That goes without saying. Duffy said it — fine — he had to say something, LOL.

            With all due respect, you don’t think a pitcher who throws a 96 mph fastball CAN’T throw the same pitch at 86 with control? Hogwash. All of ‘em can — every single one of them.

            With Verlander, you are mostly looking at a FB in the 96-98 range, with a CH about 84 and a CB about 78. There’s nothing unusual about that. Everyone has pretty good range. The last time I saw Bruce Chen, he was 68 to 89. So what? You don’t think hitters pick that stuff up?

            I get the feeling sometimes that you believe some pitchers go out there and throw without thinking — just on pure emotion. Jim, these guys are smart, they’ve got a plan, they try to execute, and I NEVER see anyone throw without thinking.

            And, radar guns vary by A LOT. The most common question I get watching summer ball is, “Whad’ya get him at?” I tell them and they say, “I had him at (pick a number:)”

          • jimfetterolf

            Anyone can throw softer, the trick is to do it with the same hand speed and release. Hitters get a good idea of speed by watching the hand leading to release, that’s what makes CH so effective, fastball hand speed and release/arm slot, but the grip transfers less energy to the ball. I assume the Verlanders adjust the FB grip to take a little off, a semi-change pitch, rather than slowing the arm. That’s where the deception comes in.

          • moretrouble

            Oh, really? So, you think pitchers should throw all their pitches with the same arm speed? Welcome to pitching 101 — you’re now ready to coach 8th graders. I apologize for being sarcastic, I just didn’t realize that needed to be said.

          • moretrouble

            Sorry for getting a bit frustrated, Jim. That comment was probably uncalled for. I just get so many of those beginner kinds of comments — always phrased as though it’s some sort of revelation — I just get impatient, that’s all. Once again, sorry.

          • jimfetterolf

            Opinions vary. When arm speed and slot tip pitches you have a problem. That’s something we learned in 8th grade. Tim Collins had trouble a couple of years ago with dropping his arm for the curve. Even the announcers saw that. A batter can spot a curve off the hand with a loopy thrower, the hand comes around the outside instead of staying behind the ball. That’s what makes two-seamers, cutters, sinkers, and changes effective, they all look exactly the same on delivery, same slot, same plane. the best ones have the latest break, look like a straight four-seamer ’til the last ten feet.

          • moretrouble

            No offense meant, Jim, but you’re not saying anything people don’t already know. You’re not saying anything meaningful. It’s Pitching 101.

            So, allow me to relate one of my favorite stories: Jim Palmer is struggling in the late innings of a ballgame in a game the Orioles need to win (late 60′s), he’s pitched a great game, but he’s tiring in the ninth and Earl Weaver goes out to the mound. Andy Etchebarren walks out, too, but won’t look at either of them because he knows an explosion is about to take place. Palmer turns toward Earl and screams, “What the hell are you doing out here?” Earl screams right back, “I’m out here because you’re pitching bad, Palmer.” Palmer responds, “Earl, the only fcking thing you know about pitching is you can’t hit it. Go back to the dugout and sit your azz down.” Earl turns to Etchebarren and says, “How’s he look to you?” Etchebarren glances at Palmer, then Earl, then Palmer again and finally says, “Earl, why don’t you go back to the dugout and let us finish up here.” Well, Earl is pissed so he just stands there. Nestor Chylak gets to the mound and says, “Everything ok here, boys?” Earl says, ‘What the fck are you doing out here?” Nestor says, “Earl, they can hear you up in the radio booth. Get your azz back to the dugout and let’s go.” Earl screams, “You can’t talk to me like that, Nestor.” Nestor says, “Sure I can. Palmer already did.”

            Pitchers know their stuff, JIm.

          • jimfetterolf

            Great story. But if pitchers knew their stuff, Luke Hochevar would be an easy bet for the Hall of Fame. Like golfers who can make one perfect shot, then lose it the next swing, pitchers can make one great pitch, then try to make an even better one next time and get blasted. Wade Davis mentioned that last year, Duffy’s also talked about that. Repeat mechanics, listen to the catcher, and stay within your abilities.

          • moretrouble

            Well, with all due respect, Jim, knowing it and executing it are two different things. Just because guys struggle at times DOES NOT mean they don’t know what they’re doing.

            I hope you don’t fail to give MLB players the respect they deserve, Jim. They are the best in the world playing against the best in the world. You can’t get any better than that — and any fan who thinks they know more than these guys is flat wrong.

            I’m not saying people shouldn’t give an opinion — but, no fan should ever say these guys don’t know what they’re doing. They do.

          • jimfetterolf

            World of difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it consistently. Duffy knows that he shouldn’t get cute when he has an 0-2 count, Davis knows that he shouldn’t overthrow, Hochevar knows he shouldn’t try to throw six straight fastballs to a big league hitter, Ventura knows he gets best movement at 96mph.

            I respect the talent and commitment but also respect my eyes and listen to what the players say, then watch them try to put it in action. They have to be like a bull rider, in the words of Garth Brooks, “Keep your mind in the middle as the world spins round and round.” That’s what separates Verlander and Shields from Hochevar and Davis. Wade Davis commented one time that he watched Ervin Santana closely, tried to emulate his calm and centeredness. Davis thought that that was what he lacked. I agree with him.

          • moretrouble

            I respect your right to have an opinion and say it. I don’t respect your judgement of KC’s players. You’ve not convinced me that you know what you’re talking about.

            The KC organization is full of bright, talented and experienced people. It’s a first class operation, from the front office down, including stadium staff. The players, coaches and front office don’t deserve 99% of the criticism that’s said on fan boards.

  • retCSM

    -7 in southeast Kansas has me ready for spring training even more that I have been.