Spring Training Report #3: Let the Games Begin

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Kansas City Royals are just two games into the spring season, but already have shown a winning attitude.  They dominated the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers in a 6-1 win to open the year, and used a late rally to win 7-6 in their second game.

Many former Naturals have been a part of the team’s early spring success.  Johnny Giavotella scored two runs in the first game, while Mike Moustakas had a pair of hits and an RBI in game one.  Giavotella continues to have the upper hand in the battle with Chris Getz to be the Royals starting second baseman, but Getz has shown a better ability to drive the ball so far this spring.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, a non-roster invitee to spring training, capped the 6-5 win in game two with a two-run double in the ninth inning to drive home former Naturals Moustakas and Wil Myers.  Myers has picked up where he left off last fall in the Arizona Fall League this spring.  He has gone 2-for-4 so far this spring and scored twice in just two games.  Myers is trying to make the step up to Triple-A Omaha to start the 2012 season.  Derrick Robinson, who is trying to make that same step, also had a big day Monday for the Royals delivering a two-run single in yesterday’s game.

The Royals are in action Tuesday playing in two games (split squad) against San Diego and Cleveland.  The minor league affiliates will begin playing spring games next Thursday March 15th.  The last minor league game this spring will be March 28th.

Naturals/Texas League Notes

Naturals in Other CampsJuan Abreu (2009) allowed one run in one inning of work so far this spring for the Astros.  Abreu, who made his major league debut with Houston last season is trying to make the team in a relief role.  Angel Sanchez (2008) is in camp with Houston as a non-roster invitee but has yet to see any game action for the Astros.  Kila Ka’aihue (2008) has gone 2-for-10 thus far in three games for the Oakland Athletics.  He is competing 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.  Jeff Fulchino (2008) made his debut for the Nationals this spring tossing a scoreless inning March 4 against Houston.  Other former Naturals in spring training this season include 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).  Parraz has gone 2-for-4 with an RBI so far this spring, while Mejia is 1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.  Hughes made his first appearance on March 3 throwing a scoreless inning against the Detroit Tigers while surrendering a pair of hits.  Former Natural Jeff Bianchi, who is in major league camp with the Milwaukee Brewers, made the highlight real last night tripping on two different occasions while trying to score on a botched fly ball in a game versus the San Francisco Giants. Bianchi had singled off Giants’ ace reliever Sergio Romo.

Transactions:  Former Natural Dan Cortes failed his physical last week.  This voided his minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, making him a free agent.  Longtime Natural Blake Johnson was signed to a minor league deal by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday March 2nd.   Johnson is the only player to suit up for Northwest Arkansas in all four seasons of their existence.  This season the right-hander will either find himself at Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque.

Other Injury Notes: Felipe Paulino experienced some tightness in his hamstring last week during camp, but it does not appear to be something that will be a long term issue at this point.  Manny Pina is expected to miss the rest of spring training as he recovers from knee surgery, while Paulo Orlando who is recovering from surgery for a sports hernia is expected to be back soon for the Royals.

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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