Spring Training Report #2

Spring Training Report #2: Games Just Days Away
Former Naturals Hitting their Stride in spring

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Kansas City Royals wrapped up their first week of workouts last week, and position players have officially reported and begun to work out this week.  Some of the Highlights from the first week of Spring practice included former Natural Greg Holland.  Holland, who will be competing for a spot in the major league bullpen with a host of others has reportedly come to camp in great shape and thrown several solid sessions in the bullpen.

Some baseball observers believe that Holland has the ability and stuff to be a closer in the near future, although he’s most likely to begin 2012 as the set-up man for Joakim Soria.

Ned Yost has also come out with his “ideal” lineup for the 2012 season.  This lineup has former Natural Johnny Giavotella hitting in the number two spot.   This would indicate that as position players get set to begin their first full week of workouts that Giavotella has a leg up in the competition to earn the starting job at second base.  He will be competing for the spot this spring with major league veteran Chris Getz.

Another former Natural Aaron Crow was in the news in the first week of camp and is expected to get a chance to make the starting rotation this season.  Crow was very successful last season in relief for the Royals.  The primary concern with moving him to the rotation would be his workload having only worked 60.2 innings last season.  Yost has reportedly said that he will be going with a six-man rotation early in spring training due to the large number of pitchers that he has at his disposal, before shaving back down to the traditional five-man rotation for the last couple of weeks of Spring.

The Royals will be playing their opening spring training game on Sunday March 4 when they take on the Texas Rangers at 1:05pm.  All games will be webcast on royals.com.

Naturals/Texas League Notes

Naturals in Other CampsJuan Abreu (2009) is in camp with the Astros and is expected to compete to be the team’s closer.  He will be competing against Brandon Lyon and with former Texas Leaguers David Carpenter and Wilton Lopez.  Abreu made his major league debut with Houston last season.  Angel Sanchez (2008) is in camp with Houston as a non-roster invitee and will look to make the roster as a utility infielder after the Astros traded for Jed Lowrie.  Kila Ka’aihue (2008) is also in camp with the Oakland Athletics and is expected to compete for playing time at first base and designated hitter with Daric Barton and former Texas leaguer Chris Carter (Midland, 2009).  Ka’aihue is out of options, and must make the big league roster or be exposed to waivers prior to being sent to the minor leagues.  Former right-hander Jeff Fulchino (2008) is competing with among others major league veteran Chad Durbin for a bullpen role with the Washington Nationals.  Other former Naturals in spring training this season include Dan Cortes (Nationals), and a trio of players who are in camp with the Atlanta Braves  Dusty Hughes (2008), first baseman Ernesto Mejia (2010), and outfielder Jordan Parraz (2009).

Transactions:  The Royals extended the contract of former Naturals’ catcher Salvador Perez on February 27th.  Perez agreed to a five year deal worth $7 million in guaranteed money and the deal includes three options that could potentially keep Perez in Kansas City until 2019.  The deal makes Perez the first former Natural to sign a multi-year major league deal.

Manny’s Surgery:  One of the early stories in camp this season for the Royals was the injury to Manny Pina.  Pina was expected to compete for the back-up catcher job with the Royals, but suffered a knee injury twisting his knee while trying to catch a foul-tip during batting practice on February 23.  The injury was later revealed to be a torn meniscus, and Pina has undergone surgery, and could miss the rest of spring training.  He is projected to miss 3-4 weeks depending on how quickly he recovers after surgery.

Other Injury Notes: Several former Naturals were also hampered by a flu-bug that was passed around the clubhouse during the first week of spring training.  The players affected included Jake Odorizzi, Everett Teaford.  Paulo Orlando was diagnosed with a sports hernia on February 22, it is not yet known how much time he will miss, or whether surgery will be required.  He flew to Philadelphia late last week to see a specialist.

Check nwanaturals.com for our Spring Training Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in spring training as well as cover other baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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