KC Royals News: Old friends, a new pitcher, and injuries

Catching up with Kansas City.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

While some former KC Royals have locked in Opening Day jobs jobs with other clubs, others enter this final week of spring training possibly battling for their major league futures. And among the latter group, the cases of Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy, two of the very few members of the 2015 World Series title team still playing the game, may not be strong enough to secure spots on their teams' active rosters.

Moustakas, the Royals' long-time third baseman who's been with five organizations and spent time at second, first, and the hot corner since KC traded him away in 2018, was back at third for the White Sox Monday and went 0-for-2 in three plate appearances. The hitless afternoon left his average below the Mendoza Line at .167; he has one home run and two RBI in 17 games. He's in Chicago's camp on a non-roster invitation which, even considering general manager and ex-teammate Chris Getz's penchant for former Royals, makes his standing with the club tenuous.

Whether Duffy is headed for the minors again — he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2021 — remains to be seen, but he hasn't worked in a Cactus League game for the Rangers since March 12 when he gave up two runs, a walk, and a home run in one inning and took the loss against Cleveland. The lefthander's four-game ERA is 5.40.

And Hunter Dozier, who didn't catch on with any big league organization after Kansas City released him last May, isn't lighting fires for the Angels. He's batting .211 as a non-roster invitee.

The Royals have added a new pitcher to the organization

Remember Samad Taylor, the speedy Royal who last season walked off the Angels in his first major game, then cooled off at the plate and spent most of the campaign's final month at Triple-A Omaha? Kansas City traded him to Seattle in January in a move that made room on the 40-man roster for newly acquired utility man Adam Frazier.

But the Taylor deal wasn't complete until late last week when the Mariners sent young pitcher Natanael Garabitos to the Royals as the transaction's player-to-be-named-later.

Don't, however, look for Garabitos on the Kauffman Stadium mound anytime soon. This will be the righthanded reliever's fifth professional season, but he's never pitched above the Single (Low) A level, where he worked in both 2021 and 2022.

Garabitos began his career in 2019 in the Dominican Summer League and in 14 games went 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA. After sitting out the pandemic season, he moved to the Arizona Complex League and was 3-2, 5.31 in 12 appearances. He pitched 35 times for Modesto two seasons ago and was 2-1 with a 5.11 ERA, then suffered his first losing (2-3) campaign last year but lowered his ERA to 4.02.

Concerning about Garabitos is his control — he's walked 111 batters in 145.1 innings, an issue the Royals' minor league staff will devote much attention to this season. He's currently on Omaha's roster, but may not be ready to skip High-A and Double-A.

Kansas City Injuries: Dairon Blanco and Jake Brentz

On the health front, outfielder Dairon Blanco, who we've predicted will make the Royals' Opening Day roster, appears to be recovered from the calf issue that bothered him recently. Blanco pinch-ran for Kyle Isbel, then took Isbel's place in center field, during the club's 6-4 loss to Milwaukee Sunday.

Reliever Jake Brentz wasn't so fortunate against the Brewers. Just a few pitches into his late-game appearance, he went down with a hamstring injury, which could further complicate his efforts to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster — opposing hitters have battered him for 10 runs (nine earned) in 4.1 innings and are batting .330 against him. He's also walked 11.

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