KC Royals Spring Training Update: Salvador Perez, Seth Lugo, Nick Pratto, and more

Catching up with the club on an off day.

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After completing 11 of the 32 games on their exhibition schedule, the KC Royals don't play today. In action again Tuesday when they host the Cubs, Kansas City is 8-3, a nice record good enough for second place in the Cactus League.

Left on the Royals' schedule before Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium are 19 more games in Arizona and the exhibition season finale against Northwest Arkansas, their Double-A minor league affiliate, March 25 in Springdale, Arkansas.

A lot can happen, and probably will, in those 20 remaining games — some slumping players will heat up, some hot players will cool down, an injury or two will likely crop up, and some seemingly safe roster spots may become contested.

For now, though, some interesting player performances warrant a look.

Salvador Perez caught fire over the weekend

No spring training story is ever complete without the obligatory "It's only spring training" disclaimer." But even as true as that is, concern creeps in whenever an eight-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner like Salvador Perez struggles at the plate. And hitless in nine at-bats and without a walk or a run driven through Thursday, struggling is precisely what he was doing.

Fortunately, things changed a bit against the A's Friday. Perez clubbed a two-run homer for his first hit and RBIs of the spring before retiring for the day. He was even better Sunday: after taking Saturday off, he went 3-for-3 and knocked in another run against the Reds to raise his small-sample-size average to .267.

The Royals will undoubtedly continue their recent trend of deploying Perez more and more at first base and designated hitter during the regular season, but so far in Cactus League play he's caught twice and DH'd twice.

Don't look now, but Nick Pratto is alive and well

After two disappointing stints in the majors -- 2022 when he homered seven times but hit .184 in 49 games, and last season when he again hit seven homers but hit just .232 in 95 contests, Nick Pratto's chances of being anywhere near Kauffman Stadium for the club's March 28 opener aren't good.

But don't tell him that. The Cactus League tear he's been on continued Sunday when he went 2-for-3 against Cincinnati. Pratto is now a sizzling 6-for-14 with a home run and four RBIs in five games.

Seth Lugo struggled Saturday, but Sam Long is catching everyone's eye

Included in the impressive package of players Kansas City brought aboard during the winter was Seth Lugo, who returned to starting last season after spending most of the previous five of his then-seven big league seasons pitching out of the Mets' bullpen. The change was by no means a disaster: Lugo went 8-7 with a 3.57 ERA

Lugo wasn't bad in his first Cactus League start this spring. Working against the Cubs a week ago, he threw two scoreless innings with a strikeout, a walk, and the hit he gave the sixth man he faced. (He also hit a batter).

Saturday, though, he was bad. In 2.1 innings against Cleveland, he allowed three home runs, five runs, five hits, and a pair of walks, all of which collectively tend to overshadow his three strikeouts.

Each of Sam Long's appearances, on the other hand, have been excellent — he's struck out seven, walked only one, and has yet to yield a run or a hit in his three games. Acquired via free agency after the Winter Meetings, and with 80 major league games on his resume, he could be on the verge of consideration for a spot in manager Matt Quatraro's bullpen.

The KC Royals assigned a few players to minor league camp Sunday

Following their 7-3 Sunday victory over Cincinnati, Kansas City announced it's sending four players — pitchers Mason Barnett and Chandler Champlain, and catchers Carter Jensen and Luca Tresh — to its minor league camp.

Champlain gave up two runs, two walks, a homer, and two other hits in two innings. Barnett, who's been making a name for himself in the minors, had surrendered four runs, four hits and walked two in 2.1 innings.

Jensen, a top KC prospect, was 1-for-6 with two RBIs in six games; Tresh was 3-for-9 and had driven in four runs in his half-dozen appearances.

Despite the assignments, all four players can still appear in big league exhibition games.

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