Tag Archive | "Relief Appearances"

Jason Motte injury might have helped St. Louis Cardinals’ Shelby Miller decision

The St. Louis Cardinals finally made their most-anticipated decision of their 2013 spring training camp Monday when they announced Shelby Miller would be the team’s fifth starter to start the regular season. And while Miller truly might be the better choice, circumstances surely made the decision easier.

Motte I70

Miller began spring training in a competition with teammates Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly to win the fifth and final spot in the Cardinals’ starting rotation.

The team quickly decided Rosenthal would be more of an asset in the bullpen after a couple of shaky starts early in spring training, but the battle between Miller and Kelly lasted nearly an entire month.

The competition lasted so long because the two pitchers had nearly identical stats throughout the spring. Both had one relatively bad outing, and each had several good appearances. Miller won the battle with a 3.94 earned-run average in five appearances with 13 strikeouts and five walks. Kelly posted a 5.54 ERA in five appearances, but he also allowed six walks and just two strikeouts.

But an injury to closer Jason Motte in the final week might have played as large a role in the final decision as anything. Motte fell victim to an elbow strain March 21 and will likely start the season on the disabled list.

That forced Mitchell Boggs into the closer’s role and opened up a spot at the front of the bullpen roster, which Kelly will likely fill now that the team has given Miller the starting job.

Kelly has experience in the bullpen. He was a closer while in college at the University of California-Riverside and made 15 relief appearances for the Cardinals in 2012 during the regular season and playoffs.

Plus, he performed well as a reliever. Kelly gave up just four earned runs in his eight regular-season relief appearances, and he allowed four runs in his seven playoff appearances.

The Cardinals were going to be in a difficult position if they gave Kelly the job and Motte hadn’t been injured. They wanted Miller to be a starter at some level, whether that be with the Cardinals or the Triple-A affiliate Memphis Redbirds, but they had groomed him as a starter in the minor leagues and were reluctant to put him in the bullpen.

Kelly, with his experience as a reliever, could more easily switch between the rotation and bullpen, but the Cardinals still might not have had a spot for him if Motte didn’t suffer his elbow injury.

The Cardinals already had plenty of righthanded relievers, including Boggs, Rosenthal, Edward Mujica and Fernando Salas.

That glut of pitchers might have forced the Cardinals to send Kelly to the minors if he didn’t win the starting job, but now they can keep both pitchers on the roster.

The Cardinals are taking a little bit more of a risk by choosing Miller as their fifth starter. Miller has pitched in just seven games as a major leaguer. He pitched well, posting a 1.32 ERA, but now the Cardinals will count on him to be a consistent starter for an entire season.

Kelly showed in 2012 he could be consistently effective for the better part of the season, and Miller will have to prove the same thing this year.

If he does, the Cardinals made a great spring-training decision. If not, they could be in for a long season that requires manager Mike Matheny constantly juggle his pitching staff, and those types of seasons rarely conclude with a playoff appearance.

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Is Donnie Joseph for real, or a spring mirage?

You can’t take too much stock in Spring Training performances. For instance, there’s left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph. In two one-inning relief appearances, Joseph faced and struck out six batters, which is impressive. Of course the batters he faced were AAA level players and five of them were left-handed. But if a pitcher is going to make a good impression in Spring Training, Joseph is doing a good job of it.

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star

Last July, the Royals got Joseph when they sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. In four Minor League seasons, Joseph pitched in 193 games over 225.1 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 3.01 SO/BB ratio, all in relief.

Joseph struggled when he went to AAA Omaha. In 11 games over 17.1 innings, his ERA was 4.15. He struck out 19 batters and gave up 13 walks, ending up with a 1.46 SO/BB ratio.

Despite the two good outings striking out the side, Joseph is a long shot to make the team. His command of the strike zone is inconsistent, and he’s only pitched 29 games in AAA. And there’s the current makeup of the bullpen. The Royals plan to carry seven relievers and for now Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are locks. And who doesn’t get the fifth starter job between Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will join the bullpen as long relievers. That leaves one spot and 14 pitchers are vying for that spot, including Joseph.

As a lefty, Joseph could be the left-handed specialist if he makes the team. He’s on the on 40-man roster and has options remaining, so even with a great spring, Joseph might end up in Omaha, especially with the strength of the Royals bullpen. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t hurt Joseph to get more experience facing AAA batters and improving his command. Even if he starts the season in Omaha, it’s likely he’ll be with the Royals sometime this year.

Donnie Joseph isn’t for real yet, but he’s not a mirage either.

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Negro League Widow Passes Away

HiltonSmithLouise Smith, widow of Hilton Smith, has passed away at the age of 98 years old.

Hilton Smith is a hall of fame pitcher famous for his time in Negro League Baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs.  During his playing career, according to the Hall Of Fame, he was credited with 20 wins in each of his 12 seasons with the Monarchs.

Possibly best known for his relief appearances behind the great Satchel Paige, Smith pitched in six consecutive “East-West All Star Games” from 1937-1942.  He was considered by many to be the best pitcher in black baseball but was largely overlooked due to his quiet demeanor, a stark contrast to that of Paige’s.

Hilton hurled a no-hitter in 1937 and according to many sources did not lose a single competition in 1938.  During the winter of 1946, he pitched the Vargas team in the Venezuelan league to the championship.  The following March, he would pitch for the Vargas team in an exhibition game in Venezuela against the New York Yankees.  He would allow one hit over five innings and be credited with the win in a 4-3 ballgame.

Smith would decline an offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers as baseball’s color barrier came crashing down, eventually retiring in 1948.  He would go on to teach, coach, and eventually become a scout for the Chicago Cubs.  He passed away in 1983 and was inducted into Cooperstown in 2001 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Louise Humphrey would marry Hilton Smith in 1934.  The couple would have two children during their marriage.  During an interview for the 2005 Oral History film, Louise would recount how she turned down Hilton’s marriage proposal at first because she did not want to marry a ballplayer.  Ultimately, she identified that he was a professional man and was rewarded with being able to see areas of the world she never thought possible.

From the “Did You Know” section of his Baseball Hall Of Fame Bio:

Hilton Smith advised Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson to sign Jackie Robinson to a contract with the powerhouse Negro American League club?

According the the Negro League Baseball Museum, Louise visited the museum for “one last tour” earlier this week.

You can visit the Negro League Baseball Museum’s website by clicking this link.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Extend 21 Invites To Spring Training

KCRoyalsPressRelease

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 9, 2013) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has invited 21 non-roster players to Major League Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.  Among the invitations are nine pitchers, four catchers, four infielders and four outfielders.

Pitchers (9):

Blaine Boyer, 31, is 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA in 233 Major League relief appearances for the Braves (2005-09), Cardinals (2009), Diamondbacks (2009-10) and Mets (2011).  The 6-foot-3, 245-pound right-hander from Marietta, Ga., is a groundball specialist, allowing just 17 home runs in 234.0 innings.  He was signed as a minor league free agent on January 3, 2013.

22-year-old Sugar Ray Marimon pitched for both Wilmington (High A) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012.  He was a Carolina League All-Star, posting a 4-2 record with a 2.12 ERA in 14 games (nine starts) before his promotion to the Naturals.  Marimon, a 6-foot-1 right-hander from Cartagena, Colombia, was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on November 20, 2006.  He earned a win for Colombia over Nicaragua on November 16, 2012 in World Baseball Classic qualifying and also tossed 5.0 scoreless innings over two appearances for Licey in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

Michael Mariot, 24, was the Northwest Arkansas (AA) Pitcher of the Year in 2012, recording a 6-3 record with a 3.40 ERA in 31 games, including 14 starts.  The University of Nebraska product is a 5-foot-11 right-hander from Southlake, Texas, who was selected by the Royals in the eighth round of the 2010 Draft.

34-year-old right-hander Brian Sanches returned to the Royals organization on a minor league contract on November 20, 2012 after nearly 10 years with other clubs.  Sanches was the Royals’ second-round selection in 1999.  He pitched in the Kansas City system until August 26, 2003 when he was traded to San Diego for outfielder Rondell White.  The 6-foot-1 Nederland, Texas native has made 195 career appearances, all but two in relief, in the Majors with the Phillies (2006-07, 2012), Nationals (2008) and Marlins (2009-11), recording a 13-7 record with a 3.75 ERA in 235.0 innings.

Atahualpa (at-ah-WALL-pa) Severino, 28, posted a 3-0 record with three saves and a 2.81 ERA in 46 relief stints for Syracuse, Washington’s Triple-A affiliate, in 2012.  The left-hander was signed to a minor league contract on November 14, 2012.  Born in Cotui, Dominican Republic, Severino saw his only Major League action in 2011 with the Nationals, recording a 1-0 record with a 3.86 ERA in six games.

Left-hander George Sherrill, 35, is 19-17 with 56 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 442 career Major League appearances, all in relief, for the Mariners (2004-07, 2012), Orioles (2008-09), Dodgers (2009-10) and Braves (2011).  The 2008 American League All-Star made just two appearances for Seattle in 2012 before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on May 4.  Born and raised in Tennessee, the current Utah resident has held left-handed batters to a .186 batting average in his Major League career. He was signed to a minor league deal on December 12, 2012.

Yordano Ventura, 21, was the 2012 Wilmington Pitcher of the Year, a Carolina League All-Star and tossed a scoreless inning as the starting pitcher for the World squad in the SiriusXM MLB Futures All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 8, 2012.  The 5-foot-11 resident of Samana, Dominican Republic, opened 2012 at Wilmington, posting a 3-5 record with a 3.30 ERA in 16 starts.  Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Royals on October 8, 2008, the right-hander also made six starts for Northwest Arkansas.

25-year-old Ryan Verdugo was a Pacific Coast League All-Star and member of the All-PCL Team in 2012.  The southpaw also made his Major League debut for the Royals in July in a start.  Verdugo was 12-4 at Omaha (AAA) with a 3.75 ERA in 27 games (24 starts).  He was acquired by the Royals from the San Francisco Giants on November 7, 2011.

Dan Wheeler, 35, is 25-43 with a 3.98 ERA in 589 outings over a 13-year Major League career for the Rays (1999-2001, 2007-10), Mets (2003-04), Astros (2004-07), Red Sox (2011) and Indians (2012).  Born in Rhode Island but now living in Florida, the right-hander split the 2012 campaign between the Cleveland Indians and Triple-A Columbus.  He signed a minor league contract with the Royals on December 16, 2012.

Catchers (4):

28-year-old Adam Moore was claimed on Outright Waivers from the Seattle Mariners on July 7, 2012 and appeared in four games with the Royals in September.  The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has appeared in the big leagues for parts of the last four seasons, playing 72 games.

Manuel Pina was re-signed by the Royals after appearing in 49 minor league contests for Surprise (R) and Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2012, as well as one game with the big league club in September.  The 25-year-old from Venezuela missed the first three months of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee during Spring Training.

28-year-old Max Ramirez remains in the Kansas City system after initially signing as a minor league free agent on December 14, 2011.  The resident of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has appeared in the Majors with the Texas Rangers in 2008 and 2010.  Ramirez spent all of 2012 with Omaha, batting .300 with 17 home runs and 77 RBI in 110 games.

Julio Rodriguez, 23, was acquired by the Royals with left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz from the Detroit Tigers for infielder Wilson Betemit on July 20, 2011.  The Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic resident was a minor league All-Star in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and named the Dominican Tigers Player of the Year in 2008.  Rodriguez batted .234 in 67 games for Northwest Arkansas a season ago.

Infielders (4):

23-year-old Christian Colon was the Northwest Arkansas Player of the Year and a Texas League All-Star in 2012.  The middle infielder saw his season end prematurely in mid-August due to a right eye injury after batting .412 in five games for Omaha.  Colon, the club’s first round pick (fourth overall) in 2010 out of Cal State-Fullerton, hit .289 with five home runs and 12 stolen bases in 73 games for Northwest Arkansas.  The right-handed batter is hitting .301 with 13 stolen bases in 39 games for Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Anthony Seratelli, 29, hit .299 with 17 doubles, 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 115 games for Omaha in 2012.  The versatile switch-hitter also stole 15 bases.  The Royals purchased Seratelli from the Windy City ThunderBolts of the Frontier League on February 27, 2007.

38-year-old Miguel Tejada, signed as a minor league free agent on December 31, 2012, is a six-time All-Star and was the 2002 American League MVP after batting .308 with 34 home runs and 131 RBI with Oakland.  The 15-year veteran is a career .285 hitter with 304 home runs, 1,282 RBI and 463 doubles in 2,118 games for the A’s (1997-2003), Orioles (2004-07, 2010), Astros (2008-09), Padres (2010) and Giants (2011).  Tejada played 36 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2012 and is currently batting .284 with nine doubles, four home runs and 19 RBI in 34 games for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League.

Infielder Brandon Wood, 27, spent 2012 at Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Rockies organization, batting .259 with 10 home runs and 64 RBI on 119 games.  The former top prospect in the Los Angeles Angels system has played in 272 Major League contests since his debut with the Angels as a 22-year-old in 2007.  He is a career .186 hitter with 18 home runs for the Angels (2007-11) and Pirates (2011).  Wood signed a minor league contract with the Royals on November 19, 2012.

Outfielders (4):

Endy Chavez, 34, an 11-year Major League veteran, signed a minor league deal with the Royals on December 26, 2012.  He made his debut in 2001 with Kansas City after the Royals selected him from the New York Mets organization in the 2000 Rule 5 Draft.  The 6-foot resident of Valencia, Venezuela, is a career .269 hitter with 118 doubles, 32 triples, 26 home runs, 229 RBI, 341 runs and 100 stolen bases for the Royals (2001), Expos (2002-04), Nationals (2005), Phillies (2005), Mets (2006-08), Mariners (2009), Rangers (2011) and Orioles (2012).  The left-handed hitting and throwing outfielder appeared in 64 regular season games with Baltimore last season, also playing in three Division Series games against the Yankees.  Chavez hit .276 with 15 walks in 30 games for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League.

26-year-old Luis Durango hit .289 and stole an International League-leading 46 bases in 62 attempts for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, serving as the club’s primary centerfielder.  The 5-foot-9 switch-hitter from Panama has played 39 games in the Major Leagues for the San Diego Padres in 2009 and 2010, hitting .292 with seven stolen bases in eight attempts.  Durango, who signed a minor league deal on November 8, 2012, competed for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .286 with six steals and playing all three outfield positions.

Xavier Nady, 34, has played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Padres (2000, 2003-05), Mets (2006), Pirates (2006-08), Yankees (2008-09), Cubs (2010), Diamondbacks (2011), Nationals (2012) and Giants (2012).  He is a career .270 hitter with 101 home runs and 406 RBI in 939 games.  The 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-handed hitter and thrower split 2012 between the Nationals and Giants organizations, playing 59 games at the Major League level.  Nady signed a minor league pact on December 18, 2012.

Willy Taveras, 31, is a seven-year Major League veteran who has compiled a .274 career average with 195 stolen bases for the Astros (2004-06), Rockies (2007-08), Reds (2009) and Nationals (2010).  The Dominican Republic resident led the National League with 68 stolen bases in 75 attempts for Colorado in 2008.  Taveras is currently batting .255 with nine stolen bases in 52 games for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.

Pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise on Monday, February 11.  Workouts for pitchers begin the following day, Tuesday, February 12.  The remainder of the squad will report on Thursday, February 14 and begin workouts for the 2012 campaign on Friday, February 15.

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Royals Sign Four To Minor League Deals

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 16, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has signed four additional players to minor league contracts for the 2013 season.  The club plans to announce Major League Spring Training invitations at a later date.

Right-handed pitcher Anthony Ortega, 27, is currently pitching for Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, recording a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA in 16 relief appearances.  The 6-footer from Miranda, Venezuela, who made three starts for the Angels in 2009, is 26-31 with a 4.41 ERA in 118 career minor league games, including 82 starts.  Ortega did not pitch during the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

34-year-old right-handed pitcher Brian Sanches returns to the Royals organization after nearly 10 with other clubs.  Sanches was the Royals’ second-round selection in 1999 out of Lamar University.  He pitched in the Kansas City system until August 26, 2003 when he was traded to San Diego for outfielder Rondell White.  Sanches was then sent to Philadelphia in a trade on April 1, 2004.  The 6-foot-1 Nederland, Texas native has made 195 career appearances, all but two in relief, in the Majors with the Phillies (2006-07, 2012), Nationals (2008) and Marlins (2009-11), recording a 13-7 record with a 3.75 ERA in 235.0 innings.

Left-handed pitcher Atahualpa Severino, 28, posted a 3-0 record with three saves and a 2.81 ERA in 46 relief stints for Syracuse, Washington’s Triple-A affiliate, in 2012.  Born in Cotui, Dominican Republic, Severino saw his only Major League action in 2011 with the Nationals, recording a 1-0 record with a 3.86 ERA in six games.

Infielder Brandon Wood, 27, spent 2012 at Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Rockies organization, batting .259 with 10 home runs and 64 RBI on 119 games.  The former top prospect of the Los Angeles Angels has played in 272 Major League contests since his debut with the Angels as a 22-year-old in 2007.  He is a career .186 hitter with 18 home runs for the Angels (2007-11) and Pirates (2011).  The 2003 first-round selection (23rd overall), who has connected for at least 20 home runs in five minor league seasons including a California League-record 43 in 2005, came up as a shortstop and third baseman, but has since appeared at first base and in the outfield.

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Royals Promote Tommy Hottovy

KANSAS CITY, MO (April 25, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Tommy Hottovy from Triple-A Omaha today and optioned right-handed pitcher Jeremy Jeffress to Omaha. With the selection of Hottovy, who is expected to be in uniform tonight (#46) in Cleveland, the Royals 40-man roster stands at 40.  In addition, the club returned outfielder Lorenzo Cain from his rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas (AA).  Cain remains on the 15-day D.L.

Hottovy, 30, was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in seven relief appearances with the Storm Chasers.  The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder had allowed three earned runs on eight hits in 10.0 innings, walking five and striking out 17.  A Kansas City, Mo., native, Hottovy made his Major League debut for the Boston Red Sox last season, recording no record and a 6.75 ERA (4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) in eight relief outings.  Hottovy graduated from Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo., and Wichita State University.

Jeffress, 24, combined to toss 1.0 scoreless inning over two relief appearances for the Royals, allowing four hits and walking two.

Cain, who has been on the Disabled List since April 13 with a left groin strain, made three rehab starts for the Naturals and was 1-for-9 at the plate. He exited last night’s game and is currently being re-evaluated by the Royals medical staff in Kansas City.

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Five Royals Players Who Could Surprise Fans In Surprise

The Kansas City Royals make their Spring Training home at the Surprise Recreation Campus in Surprise, AZ. I have no idea why a group of people got together and named a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona Surprise. Maybe the dry heat had something to do with it.

But it does give me an opportunity to make a dry pun about the surprise players the Royals may have in Spring Training. I picked a starting pitcher, relief pitcher, catcher, infielder and outfielder who could pleasantly surprise fans and the Royals enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Starting pitcher Zach Miner: He’s not like the last pitcher named Zack the Royals had. Still, Miner had a solid career as a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers with a 25-20 W-L record, 4.24 ERA, 5.5 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9 from 2006-2009 before being sidelined with Tommy John surgery. The right-hander didn’t play in 2010, but Miner appeared in 23 games last season between AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha, pitching to a 3-7 W-L record, 5.26 ERA, 5.9 SO/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9.

Miner is 29 years old and will turn 30 during Spring Training. Two of his prime playing years were recovering from Tommy John surgery and he’s been out of the Majors since 2009. Miner will need to step up and make a good impression for the Royals to give him a spot in the starting rotation.

Relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera: You have to like a pitcher named after a unit of temperature measurement. And like the rising temperatures of Arizona, Herrera shot up through three Minor League levels in 2011 before making two relief appearances in the Majors last September. While Herrera’s outings weren’t spectacular in the Majors with 2IP, 2 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 home run and a 13.50 ERA, the Royals saw his potential and kept him on the 40-Man roster.

The 22 year-old right-handed Herrera began his career as a starter, but elbow injuries in 2009 and 2010 put him in the bullpen. The Royals will likely keep Herrera as a reliever. With the Royals already strong bullpen, Herrera may start the season in Omaha’s bullpen if he has an average or lackluster Spring Training.

Herrera does have the talent to be a starter. If the Royals are serious about making Herrera a starter, it’s likely he will be in the Northwest Arkansas or Omaha starting rotation to build up his endurance and arm strength.

Catcher Manny Pina: The 24 year old catcher named after a pineapple played three games with Northwest Arkansas and 68 games with Omaha in 2011. Pina had a line of .239 BA, .365 OBP, .372 SLG. Pina threw out 27% of the basestealers, as opposed to the 42% of basestealers he threw out in 2010.

If Pina does make the Royals Opening Day roster, it will likely be as a backup catcher behind Salvador Perez, who the Royals project as their starting catcher. However, Pina does have options left and another year in Omaha wouldn’t hurt. Brayan Pena is 30 years old, out of options and the Royals believe his role is being a backup catcher. The Spring Training performances of the three catchers will determine who is the starter, who is the backup and who will go to Omaha.

Infielder Clint Robinson: If Clint Robinson was with another Major League team, he might be a strong candidate as their starting first baseman or designated hitter. His .326 BA, .399 OBP and .533 SLG in Omaha last year were good numbers, but when Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler are ahead of you, it doesn’t matter. And being 26 years old makes Robinson more organizational depth than a prospect.

But anything can happen in Spring Training. Hosmer or Butler could get hurt, or the Royals could trade Butler during Spring Training, unlikely as that may be. If Hosmer or Butler go down, Robinson will get a chance. If Hosmer or Butler stay healthy, Robinson will get another year mashing the ball in Omaha or he may be traded to a team who could use him.

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson: The Royals have a good outfield with Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur and the potential goodness of Lorenzo Cain. Mitch Maier did a respectable job as a fourth outfielder in limited plate appearances. So what gives the 27 year-old Jarrod Dyson a chance to make the Royals outfield corps?

Dyson’s main asset is his speed on the base paths and in the outfield. Last year in Omaha, Dyson played in 83 games and in 369 plate appearances stole 38 bases and got caught stealing twice. That’s pretty good, in case you are wondering. And in his 26 games and 53 plate appearances with the Royals last year, Dyson stole 11 bases and got caught once. Still pretty good.

And Dyson’s .279 BA, .356 OBP and .357 SLG line in Omaha last year is respectable and his defense is good when he’s out in the field.

But Dyson isn’t starting outfielder material. He doesn’t hit for much power and his value is being a pinch runner and playing defense, which works for a fourth outfielder or bench player. If Mitch Maier struggles during Spring Training and Dyson has a strong showing, he could be the Royals fourth outfielder.

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Royals Invite Brandon Sisk To Surprise

ROYALS INVITE LEFT-HANDED PITCHER BRANDON SISK TO SPRING TRAINING

KANSAS CITY, MO (February 2, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has invited left-handed pitcher Brandon Sisk to Major League Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.  Sisk becomes the 17th non-roster player to receive an invitation.  The Royals have now invited eight pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and three outfielders.

Sisk, 26, opened 2011 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, making 16 relief appearances.  The Elkhart, Texas, resident was then promoted to Omaha (AAA) where he went 4-2 with two saves and a 1.41 ERA in 25 outings, all in relief.  Signed from the Independent Bay Area Toros on July 8, 2008, Sisk was also a part of Major League camp in 2011.

Pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise on Monday, February 20.  Workouts for pitchers begin the following afternoon, Tuesday, February 21.  The remainder of the squad will report on Friday, February 24 and begin workouts for the 2012 campaign on Saturday afternoon, February 25.

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Royals Invite 16 To Major League Camp

ROYALS INVITE 16 TO MAJOR LEAGUE SPRING TRAINING

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 25, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has invited 16 players to Major League Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.  The Royals have invited seven pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and three outfielders.

Pitchers (7):

Francisley Bueno, 30, made 15 starts last season for Monterrey in the Mexican Summer League.  Born in Havana, Cuba, the left-hander now resides in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and was signed by Kansas City as a minor league free agent on November 17, 2011.

23-year-old left-handed pitcher Chris Dwyer will participate in his second Major League spring training.  The Royals fourth round pick in 2009 out of Clemson University was 8-10 with a 5.60 ERA in 27 starts for Northwest Arkansas (AA) in 2011, finishing third in the Texas League with 126 strikeouts.

Tommy Hottovy, 30, will make his first appearance in Major League spring training for his hometown Royals after inking a minor league deal on November 18, 2011.  Born and raised in Kansas City and a graduate of Park Hill South High School and Wichita State University, the left-hander received his first big league call with the Red Sox in 2011, making eight relief appearances.

29-year-old right-hander Zach Miner makes his second straight appearance in Royals Major League camp, although he did not pitch last spring due to rehab from Tommy John surgery.  Signed as a minor league free agent on January 3, 2011, Miner was 25-20 with a 4.24 ERA in 157 games (35 starts) for the Tigers from 2006-2009.

Recently rated as the top prospect in the Royals organization by Baseball AmericaMike Montgomery, 22, will make his second consecutive appearance in Major League spring training.  Montgomery was 5-11 with a 5.32 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) with Omaha last season.  The 6-foot-4 left-hander was the Royals supplemental first round selection (36th overall) in 2008.

21-year-old right-hander Jake Odorizzi joins Royals Major League camp for the first time in his second season in the organization.  Odorizzi was acquired with shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Jeremy Jeffress from the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Zack Greinke and infielder Yuniesky Betancourt on December 19, 2010.  Born and raised in Illinois, he made 27 combined starts during the 2011 season between Wilmington (A Advanced) and Northwest Arkansas, and was named the Wilmington Pitcher of the Year.

Will Smith, 22, will join Major League spring training for the third straight year, the second with the Royals after the club acquired him from the Los Angeles Angels along with pitcher Sean O’Sullivan for infielder Alberto Callaspo on July 22, 2010.  Smith, the 2011 Northwest Arkansas Pitcher of the Year, led the Texas League with 13 wins and 161.1 innings pitched.

Catchers (3):

Cody Clark, 30, enters his sixth season in the Royals organization after playing in 2011 with Omaha (AAA).  The resident of Conway, Ark., signed with Kansas City as a minor league free agent on October 26, 2006.

27-year-old Max Ramirez joins the Kansas City system after signing as a minor league free agent on December 14, 2011.  The resident of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has appeared in the Majors with the Texas Rangers in 2008 and 2010.

Julio Rodriguez, 22, was acquired by the Royals with left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz from the Detroit Tigers for infielder Wilson Betemit on July 20, 2011.  The Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic resident was a minor league All-Star in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and named the Dominican Tigers Player of the Year in 2008.

Infielders (3):

Tony Abreu, 27, is a switch-hitting infielder who has batted .251 in 146 career Major League games with the Dodgers (2007, 2009) and Diamondbacks (2010).  The Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic resident signed with the Royals as a minor league free agent on December 1, 2011.

28-year-old switch-hitter Irving Falu batted .301 in 111 games for Omaha (AAA) last season. The Carolina, Puerto Rico resident was selected by the Royals in the 21st round in 2003.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 30, signed with the Royals as a minor league free agent on January 18, 2012.  The six-year Major League veteran from Evergreen, Colo., is a career .255 hitter with 137 doubles, 85 home runs and 261 RBI in 672 games for the Indians (2006), Padres (2007-09), A’s (2010-11) and Rockies (2011).

Outfielders (3):

Greg Golson, 26, joins the Kansas City organization as a minor league free agent, signing on December 13, 2011.  A native of Austin, Texas, Golson has seen time in the Majors with the Phillies (2008), Rangers (2009) and Yankees (2010-11).

22-year-old outfielder Wil Myers will be a part of Major League spring training for the first time in his career.  The converted catcher and Royals third-round pick in 2009 followed up his 2011 season at Northwest Arkansas with a tremendous campaign in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .360 while finishing in the top three in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

Paulo Orlando, 26, was invited to his first big league camp.  The right-handed hitting outfielder played at both Omaha and Northwest Arkansas in 2011.  Acquired by Kansas City from the Chicago White Sox on August 9, 2008 in exchange for pitcher Horacio Ramirez, Orlando is attempting to become the first player born in Brazil to make it to the Major Leagues.

Pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise on Monday, February 20.  Workouts for pitchers begin the following afternoon, Tuesday, February 21.  The remainder of the squad will report on Friday, February 24 and begin workouts for the 2012 campaign on Saturday afternoon, February 25.

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Bullpen Could Be A Strength For St. Louis Cardinals In 2012

The St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen came a long way in 2011, beginning with Ryan Franklin’s blown save on Opening Day and ending with Jason Motte’s final pitch to win Game Seven of the World Series.

The squad battled through major ups and downs throughout the season, and the final roster hardly resembled the Opening Day roster. All of those changes turned out to be a blessing, however, as the team went on to win the World Series.

The Opening Day bullpen that included pitchers such as Miguel Batista, Brian Tallet and Bryan Augenstein eventually turned into a bullpen with Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel.

The latter group was instrumental in the Cardinals run to the world championship. Manager Tony La Russa used his bullpen more extensively in the playoffs than any manager in the history of the game, and the relievers came through nearly every time in the playoffs.

Veterans such as Dotel and Arthur Rhodes left during the offseason, but the Cardinals picked up left-handed specialist J.C. Romero Dec. 15 and still have a strong core of young arms that will be ready to defend the championship this year.

Plus, the experience those young pitchers got during the stretch run of the 2011 season is sure to help them in future seasons.

After watching Motte nervously bumble his way through relief appearances at times during the previous two seasons, few people could have imagined him all of a sudden shutting down the best teams in the game during the most important stretch of the season, much less coming through flawlessly in the World Series to beat the Texas Rangers.

Yet, there he was on the mound at Busch Stadium throwing some of the most important pitches of the season.
After years of turnover and uncertainty in the Cardinals bullpen, that group could be one of the best parts of the team in 2012.

The Cardinals lost a lot of firepower in the lineup when first baseman Albert Pujols left in December to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and they only brought in players who were Pujols’ age or older. The chances of both shortstop Rafeal Furcal and outfielder Carlos Beltran staying healthy for the entire season are very low.

That means the Cardinals will have to rely heavily on their pitching staff. The good news is this year’s pitching staff could be the best the Cardinals have had since 2004 when four starters had 15 or more wins, and that team went to the World Series.

Adam Wainwright will return this season to join what should be a strong rotation that includes Chris Carpenter, Jamie Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook.

However, that rotation can only do so much. The bullpen is also going to have to shut down teams regularly late in games. With a strong rotation, the relievers will likely come into games with a lead, and a bad stretch of relief pitching could quickly demoralize the entire team.

Losing games is one thing, but losing because a reliever blew the game late adds an extra sting.

In any case, Cardinals fans should be as confident in this season’s bullpen as it has been in many years. This group is younger than most of the Cardinals’ bullpens during the La Russa era, and it now has experience that should keep them from getting rattled in tight situations.

After having a bullpen that appeared to be one of the worst in the league less than 12 months ago, the Cardinals could go into 2012 with one of the best bullpens in the game. That is quite a turnaround.

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