02/11/2013 4:54 PM ET
Chill in the air for informal spring workout
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Chilly weather at the Royals' Spring Training complex continued on Monday as the team held an informal workout on the eve of its first official practice for pitchers and catchers.
A few sprinkles fell from the gray skies, and the threat of more rain chased the hitters into the batting cages for cover. The pitchers, though, threw in the outdoor bullpen, and Mother Nature didn't interrupt.
All 34 pitchers and seven catchers had checked in by Monday, reporting day, though most have been on the premises for days anyway.
Physical examinations will occupy most of Tuesday morning, and the first workout won't begin until 12:30 p.m. CT. The pitchers will work on long tossing, practice defensive fundamentals and bunting, and throw batting practice.
"There's always a high level of excitement for the first day of Spring Training. Everybody feels good, everybody's rarin' to go. So that's natural," manager Ned Yost said. "I think our excitement level is a little more elevated than it has been in the past, with the addition of the new pitchers that we've got. They can take a look at the roster that we've put together and see that it's going be a pretty good team."
Starting Wednesday, daily workouts at the Surprise complex will begin at 11 a.m. CT -- except for next Friday, when the infielders and outfielders officially join the action. Another round of physical exams will delay that day's start.
Shields, Perez working to develop rapport
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- James Shields, the Royals' new No. 1 pitcher, was a tapestry of team colors as he threw in the bullpen on Monday.
The team's new training caps have a white front panel on the crown, surrounded by blue. Shields also wore a blue long-sleeved shirt and blue shorts, the outfit accented by long white stockings. He was non-uniformly fashionable as he threw to catcher Salvador Perez.
Shields' every toss was scrutinized by pitching coach Dave Eiland, who stood behind him, and bullpen coach Doug Henry, who watched from behind Perez along with assistant general manager J.J. Picollo.
After finishing, Shields approached Perez for an intense conversation that lasted several minutes. Squatting and pointing at portions of the plate, Shields was obviously discussing his pitching tendencies with the young catcher.
"I was just kind of basically explaining to him where I wanted him to set up," Shields said. "Kind of my thinking on each pitch -- if I want to set him up in thirds or corner or middle. And kind of where I throw most of my pitches. Just having him get familiar with me and how I throw."
Shields has been hearing good things about Perez's work. In fact, he was in the Rays' dugout when Perez made his Major League debut against Tampa Bay in 2011 with a spectacular defensive display that included picking off two runners and catching five popups.
"He works hard, and looking from the opposing dugout, his energy is just phenomenal, so I'm excited to work with him," Shields said. "I'm going to slowly build a relationship with him in Spring Training so we don't have to worry about it during the season."
Lefty Lamb looking to make up for lost time
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander John Lamb, after being sidetracked by Tommy John surgery and other ailments, is in the Royals' Major League camp and ready to make up for lost time.
Lamb underwent the surgery in June 2011, but his return last year was complicated by ankle and back problems. When the 2012 season ended, he had started just six games for two Rookie-level clubs, Surprise and Idaho Falls.
"From what I've heard, [there are] no restrictions on me," Lamb said. "I don't know how much they're trying to throw me out here in the spring, but I'm just going out to compete and stay healthy."
With Jake Odorizzi traded to Tampa Bay, Lamb is now ranked third among Royals pitching prospects by MLB.com, behind Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura, and fifth among the team's prospects overall. He's not sure where he'll be assigned this season.
"Obviously, my goal is Kansas City, sooner than later, but I can't rush the process. It's all on them, so I'm just trusting it and whenever I'm there, I'm there," he said.
Mendoza arrives fresh off Mexico's win
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Luis Mendoza arrived in camp on Monday and accepted congratulations for being named Most Valuable Player of his Obregon team from Mexico, which won the Caribbean Series last week.
Mendoza's final victory put Mexico in the title game. He had a no-hitter for seven innings against Puerto Rico but reached the 100-pitch mark. The no-no ended in the eighth, and Mendoza was taken out of the game.
If the no-hitter had continued, would he have tried to finish the game?
"Yeah, probably," Mendoza said, laughing.
But, more seriously, he added, "When I was pitching, I was thinking about it -- shut it down because Spring Training was around the corner. I thought about it. I told the manager, 'Hey, I would like to stay in the game, but you better get some people ready [in the bullpen].' "
The decision was made easier after he surrendered a double to start the eighth. After an out and a single, Mendoza was pulled after expending 113 pitches. In his last three games for Obregon, he threw a total of 19 1/3 shutout innings.
"I was very happy for my country and for the year I had," he said. "I hope to bring that into Spring Training, keep working hard and keep pitching like that."
Manager Ned Yost has Mendoza in the competition for the No. 5 rotation spot along with Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Everett Teaford and Will Smith.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.