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Royals bullpen: who’s in, who’s out

We keep hearing that there’s very little competition at the day-to-day positions in Royals camp. Other than the mess that Yuniesky Betancourt and the other second basemen are in, the roster could have been filled out prior to spring training.

Having Salvador Perez go down created intrigue that wasn’t expected at catcher. That problem was resolved for the time being with the acquisition of Humberto Quintero.

But the bullpen situation is another matter entirely. When Joakim Soria was sidelined with a serious elbow injury, it only further muddied the waters. The Royals have so many questions to be answered it’s hard to know where to begin.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain… No there is too much. Let me sum up.”

First, Soria’s injury ended, for the time being, the conversion of Aaron Crow to the starting rotation. He’s now fully entrenched in the bullpen and will probably end up closing some games.

Manager Ned Yost most likely will try a closer-by-committee approach, using Crow, Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland in that role.

So if the Royals starters include Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen, then a couple of rotation spots will affect the pen.

Felipe Paulino and Luis Mendoza are out of options, so they are going to be given every opportunity to stick. Paulino showed potential last year, but has been rough so far this spring. Mendoza was great at Omaha last year, and has had a good spring.

But Danny Duffy has been solid thus far and has the most potential. It’s hard to envision him not coming to KC. The numbers don’t add up.

The Royals have room for eight relievers. Crow, Broxton and Holland are locks. That leaves five spots.

Guys who had bullpen roles last year are right-handers Louis Coleman, Blake Wood and Nathan Adcock, and left-handers Tim Collins and Everett Teaford.

Add to the mix righty Kelvin Herrera and lefty Jose Mijares. Both have been very good so far this spring, but there isn’t room for both.

Wood is temporarily out of commission, so we’ll count him out for now.

Adcock has already been sent to minor league camp.

Injuries to Wood and Soria probably take most of the decision making out of Yost’s hands.

Best case seems to me to have potential starters Mendoza and Everett Teaford join the bullpen mix for now. That gives another righty (Mendoza) to work with, and two guys who can go long innings or make necessary starts.

Herrera would probably benefit from some time in Omaha, so he’s a logical cut. If the Royals don’t keep Mendoza in the pen, however, then Herrera becomes a more important right-handed option to keep in KC.

Seems like what was a mess a few days ago now lines up pretty clearly like this:

Starters (5): Sanchez, Hochevar, Chen, Duffy, Paulino.

Middle Relievers (5): Righties Coleman, Mendoza; Lefties Collins, Teaford, Mijares.

Closers (3): Righties Crow, Broxton, Holland

If the Royals are willing to go with Mendoza in the bullpen, this would look on paper like a balanced, experienced group holding down the fort until Soria returns.

Some wonder if Soria will ever return. Either way, the confusion of the Royals bullpen seems to be resolving itself.

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