J.C. Gutierrez Nabs Final Bullpen Spot
The Royals have finally showed their hand at what will resemble the complete bullpen product come Opening Day.
In a very competitive battle for the final bullpen role, right-hander J.C. Gutierrez was tabbed as the final piece to manager Ned Yost‘s pantry of relievers.
Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher J.C. Gutierrez (27) poses for a picture during photo day at the Royals Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Gutierrez captured the spot over two other remaining candidates in big-league camp: righties Louis Coleman and Dan Wheeler.
Prior to the move, Yost and the Royals sent the organization’s No. 11 prospect, Donnie Joseph, back to the minors after having an electrifying spring tour, striking out 14 batters over ten innings of work and holding opposing hitters to a .083 batting average.
While some were hoping Joseph would grab the final spot, it’s apparent Yost and the Royals were looking for a right-handed pitcher to round out the bullpen.
Over the course of spring training, Gutierrez compiled 12 innings of work with 10 strikeouts, but also posted a 4.50 ERA and a .308 opponent batting average.
As for the other candidates who saw their spring training tour come to an end with the big-league team, Coleman posted 12.1 innings and eight strikeouts with a 1.46 ERA, while Wheeler tossed 11 innings of work, 14 strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA.
The numbers drastically differ between the three right-handed pitchers, but, obviously from a small pool of work and opportunities, Yost must have seen something in Gutierrez that will translate into regular season.
With the final trimming done to the pitching the staff the bullpen will look something like this:
RHP Luke Hochevar
RHP J.C. Gutierrez
RHP Aaron Crow
RHP Kelvin Herrera
RHP Greg Holland
LHP Tim Collins
LHP Bruce Chen
It should also be noted that once lefty Danny Duffy returns from the disabled list, a spot should either open up for him in the bullpen or rotation with either Chen or righty Luis Mendoza being shuffled out of the picture.
On top of the pitching cuts, minor league catcher Max Ramirez was sent down to the minor league camp, leaving the back-up catcher position up to either Brett Hayes or George Kottaras.
Ramirez hit .318 with 2 home runs and 14 RBIs in big-league camp.
Finally, the back-up infielders have also been selected with Irving Falu being sent down to triple-A Omaha. Falu concluded his spring training by hitting .217 in 23 at-bats. Falu also spent some time away from camp as he played for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
Utility player Elliot Johnson, who was final player in the big offseason acquisition for James Shields and Wade Davis, and veteran infielder Miguel Tejada rounded out the infielders selected for the Opening Day roster.
Johnson batted .286 with eight RBIs, while Tejada hit .367 in 30 at-bats.