KC Royals manager Ned Yost was expected to have his Opening Day roster ready for Friday, but now will not share it with the public until the absolute last moment (which is Sunday).
The Royals did however make two moves prior to their exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks last night.
As predicted, Raul Mondesi was optioned to Double-A. I wish the media would finally realize he is NOT a junior! Anyway, he joins fellow middle infielders Ramon Torres and Jack Lopez in NW Arkansas.
I was confused as to why Mondesi was in big league camp this long, but it seemed the Royals were inclined to continue to rush him. Sending him to NWA is a great move because he will finally be repeating a level (and he has yet to conquer a level yet in his professional career).
The Royals also optioned catcher Tony Cruz to Triple-A. I am a bit surprised with this move, though Cruz did not have a great spring. Cruz is a long-time big leaguer and I assumed the Royals would just cut him loose or trade him (maybe they still will). Cruz sure will help the Omaha pitching staff.
I assume Cruz will split catching duties with Parker Morin in Omaha. That means Drew Butera earned the backup job.
Ian Kennedy is no longer pitching Game 2 (Tuesday) against the NY Mets. Being that it is the start of the season, the Royals smartly want to be cautious with his hamstring (plus he has not run on it yet). In his place, Chris Young will start the game (which is also the ring ceremony).
Yordano Ventura will start on Friday against Minnesota. Kris Medlen will be skipped the first time through the rotation, with the Royals having three days off next week before they play Friday’s game.
Speaking of Young, he started Friday night’s exhibition game in Phoenix. He allowed four runs on four hits and a walk over 2.1 innings. Granted, he left with two runners on base in the third and minor leaguer Kevin McCarthy allowed both (and his own run) to score. The Royals middle infield defense of Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante also failed both.
Unfortunately for KMac, that is the second time in as many appearances he did not pitch well in a big league game. He walked in a run and threw just eight of his 16 pitches for strikes (which is unlike him) last night.
According to Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd, he feels the final roster spots will go to Chien-Ming Wang and Terrance Gore, leaving the deserving Whit Merrifield once again on the outside looking in. Merrifield is expected to head back to Omaha, along with veteran minor leaguer Cody Decker.
That also means Reymond Fuentes earned a spot, platooning with Paulo Orlando in right field. Fuentes started in right last night and batted ninth. He went 1-for-3 and is hitting a whopping .386 this spring.
Speaking of Wang, he took a comebacker off his chest last night, but is fine. In one inning last night, he allowed a run on three hits while striking out one.
Lefty Danny Duffy, who appears FINALLY to be converting to a full-time reliever, threw another scoreless inning last night. That gives him four of his last five, which is a good sign heading into the regular season.
The Royals finish up spring training this afternoon against the Diamondbacks, with mostly minor leaguers. The regulars are flying to Kansas City this morning to get prepared for tomorrow night’s rematch against the Mets.