Obviously, the biggest news is Monday’s pitchers and catchers reporting date, though many players are showing up early.
One such player is James Shields who arrived in Surprise on Saturday to take part in a conditioning workout, according to Bob Dutton. He threw a bit off the mound – Salvador Perez stayed late to catch for him – and Dutton even got a shot of Shields’s first work as a Royal.
Ned Yost has expressed confidence with Shields in the rotation. On Royals.com, he noted that it felt like his Atlanta days where they always had that big arm at the top of the staff to rely on. The benefits of Shields (and the additions of Ervin Santana and Wade Davis) could also result in less losing streaks (having a tough stopper at the top) and less wear on the bullpen, which has been worked hard the last two seasons.
Speaking of Davis, Yost suggested that he’s basically a lock for the fourth spot in the rotation, which could obviously change if he doesn’t pitch well in camp. One of the elements of the trade involved the potential value of Davis in the rotation, otherwise, he’s just another reliever thrown into the deal. He didn’t pitch well in Tampa as a starter, but after a good year in 2012 out of the bullpen, he might have something to build on heading into 2013 (and beyond).
On the offensive front, Jarrod Dyson said that he has the goal of 50 stolen bases in 2013. The only way that’s likely to happen is if someone gets hurt or if Jeff Francoeur struggles again, as Clint Scoles points out. It seems that if Francoeur has another rough season like last year, he’s going to give way to Dyson with Lorenzo Cain likely to move into right field.
(If Dyson is going to get to 50, maybe he should buy himself 50 pairs of batting gloves. “One for every base I’m gonna steal” as Willie Mays Hayes said in the movie Major League – which you can see on the big screen on Sunday afternoon at the Screenland Armour theater in Kansas City. Starting at 4:00 p.m., the Kansas City Baseball Vault and ESPN 1510 AM’s The Ballgame will help host an event that will feature Willie Aikens and 1985 World Series Champion Greg Pryor as well as a Skype appearance from local boy and Royals prospect Jason Adam. Tickets are $5, but you can save a buck if you mention the podcast at the window.)
The final big bit of news so far involves George Sherrill, who signed as a minor league free agent in early December. The lefty specialist underwent Tommy John surgery last year and was expected to be back somewhere in May, but it seems he may be able to return in late April now. The Royals don’t have a clear-cut lefty specialist, as we’ve discussed before, so Sherrill could be a nice piece if he’s healthy and pitching well.