03/26/11 1:01 AM ET
Royals make three Minor League deals
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
In other deals, the Royals traded pitcher Gaby Hernandez to the Chicago White Sox for future considerations and dealt pitcher Alex Caldera to the Washington Nationals for cash. Both are right-handers.
Whittleman, 24, has played first base and third base since he was a second-round Draft choice by the Rangers in 2005. Last season, he batted .215 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs for Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco in the Rangers' organization.
Hernandez, 24, was one of the early cuts in the Royals' Major League camp this year. Last season as a starter for Triple-A Omaha, he was 10-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 31 games. He was claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox a year ago.
Caldera, 25, was 6-4 with a 3.25 ERA last year for Class A Wilmington and went 3-2 with a 5.12 ERA as a starter. He was a 13th-round Draft choice in 2007.
Francoeur finally finding groove at plate
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur believes he's finally ready for the start of the season. He's getting his swing and his timing in sync, just in time.
"I went back and watched some film and the biggest thing I've done is my hands,' Francoeur said. "I'm kind of wrapping my hands [back] and it's a straight path to the ball."
The adjustment was made with the advice of hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and encouragement of Hall of Famer George Brett, in camp as an instructor.
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"George kind of wrapped his hands like that and he was saying what a straight path it had to the ball. And I can feel it," Francoeur said.
His two-run homer on Friday night was a line drive to left. It punctuated a 1-for-3 game for Francoeur, who drove in two runs with the blast.
"Those kind of home runs are great for Kauffman Stadium, those are the kind of balls that go out of Kauffman Stadium," he said. "If you hit the high ones, it's a 'hang with 'em.' "
After a terrible start, Francoeur has seven hits in his last 14 at-bats.
"It's a great time to get locked and loaded," he said.
Mazzaro succeeds at limiting damage vs. Giants
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals right-hander Vin Mazzaro was off target with his pitches, and he gave up nine hits to the Giants in four innings on Friday night. But one thing really caught Royals manager Ned Yost's attention.
"Mazzaro had good stuff, his command was all over the place but what was so impressive is that the opportunity for them to score seven or eight or nine runs in the first three innings was there, and he limited the damage to three," Yost said.
That was all the Giants would get as the Royals pounded out a 15-3 victory.
"Overall, I thought my stuff was pretty good. Command was an issue a little bit [with] the fastball. But the other pitches were working really well, and I was getting them to chase," Mazzaro said.
Ideally, Mazzaro would've gone six innings but he was lifted after 77 pitches (47 strikes) in four innings.
"When you're out there, you just want to keep that damage to a minimum. I was just trying to keep that two-seamer low and get a couple rollovers," he said, referring to a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second. "I got one of them and a couple key strikeouts which was pretty good."
Mazzaro, the Royals' fifth starter, will stay in Arizona when the club leaves on Tuesday and pitch in Minor League games until needed on April 16 to face the Mariners.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.