Wednesday, long before KC Royals stars Bobby Witt Jr. and Brady Singer learned precisely where they and Team USA stood in their quest to reach the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals, fellow Royal Robbie Glendinning's impressive tournament run came to an abrupt end.
While the U.S. awaited its final Pool C game, Glendinning and Team Australia faced Cuba in the tournament's first quarterfinal contest. Australia landed its berth in the single-elimination quarters due in no small part to Glendinning's bat—he was slashing .375/.444/.750 with two homers and six RBIs at game time—but he went 0-for-4 as Australia lost 4-3. Glendinning now returns to the Royals where he and the club hope he picks up right where he left off—his bat was sizzling before he left for the WBC.
The day was good, though, for other Royals. Before Team USA secured a spot in the quarters with a 3-2 late-night victory over Colombia (more on that in a moment), Puerto Rico and KC catcher-outfielder MJ Melendez punched their ticket into the next round by beating Team Dominican Republic 5-2. Melendez went 0-for-4. He and Puerto Rico take on Mexico at 6 p.m.. CDT Friday on Fox Sports 1.
But back to the United States. Although Witt and Singer didn't play, Team USA made certain Royals fans have a lot to look forward to: beating Colombia pits the U.S. against Venezuela and Royals Salvador Perez and Carlos Hernández in Miami Saturday night. Venezuela capped its perfect 4-0 Pool D record with a 5-1 win over Israel earlier Wednesday; Perez was 0-for-2 but boasts a .417/.500/.917 line with three doubles, a homer and five RBIs.
Saturday evening's USA-Venezuela matchup is set for 6 p.m. CDT. Fox has the telecast. The winner moves on to play Cuba and Ronald Bolaños Sunday at 6 p.m. CDT on Fox Sports 1.
Kansas City has two other representatives in the WBC quarterfinals. Nicky Lopez, Vinnie Pasquantino, and their Team Italy were scheduled to face powerful Japan beginning at 5 a.m. CDT this morning (before this story published).
The KC Royals made four roster moves Wednesday
Besides losing their third game in a row Wednesday, a 4-3 squeaker to Surprise Stadium co-tenant Texas, the Royals altered their roster late in the day. Per MLB.com KC beat writer Anne Rogers:
None of the moves were particularly surprising, especially Zerpa's, who hasn't seen any Cactus League action. He also didn't get to play with Team Venezuela, for whom he was selected, in the WBC.
The struggles that began for Kowar as soon as the Royals called him up from Triple-A two seasons ago continue. Although he threw two scoreless innings in the club's 5-3 loss to Cincinnati Tuesday, he gave up five runs in three previous Cactus League frames and is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA over five appearances. Those numbers, his 0-6, 10.76 ERA 16-game big league record, and his 4-10, 6.16 year in Triple-A last season prove he needs more time in the minors.
Although he's won twice, opposing batters are hitting .292 against Castillo and he's given them seven runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He's struck out seven but walked four. And his ERA is an ugly 11.12.
Taylor, on the other hand, has been impressive, but consiering his lack of experience above Double-A ball (70 games) and the presence of so many veterans vying for so few Opening Day roster spots, moving him to the minors for more seasoning makes perfect sense. He clubbed his second home run of the spring Tuesday and in 10 games is hitting .400 with two homers, a double, and a triple.
Is this former KC Royals favorite recapturing the stellar form he once had?
Mike Moustakas' baseball life has changed considerably since he first tested free agency after the 2017 season. "Moose" became a Royal icon during the parts of seven seasons he played before becoming a free agent: he'd proven his leadership skills, established himself as a power-hitter, handled third base well, and made two All-Star teams.
But the market proved less than Moustakas-friendly, forcing him back to the Royals until the club swung a trade deadline deal with Milwaukee and sent him to the Brewers for Jorgé Lopez and Brett Phillips. He stayed in Milwaukee through the end of the 2019 season, then joined the Reds on a four-year, $64 million deal.
He didn't get to play the contract out. After Moustakas hit only .216 with 21 homers in three injury-plagued Cincinnati campaigns, the Reds cut him loose in January, casting his once-stellar big league career in serious doubt.
Now, it looks like he has new life. Colorado, taking advantage of the fact it's responsible only for paying Moustakas the minimum major league salary this season while Cincinnati remains on the hook for the rest of the $18 million (plus any performances bonuses he achieves) due him this year on his Cincinnati contract, recently signed him to a minor league deal.
How are things working out? So far, so good.
Moose debuted Saturday and went 1-for-3. He came back Saturday and was 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs. Monday was excellent, too: Moustakas drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double off Oakland's' Shintaro Fujinami, and also singled. He took Tuesday off and Wednesday's Colorado game was canceled.
Is the Moose loose again? Let's hope so.