03/19/2013 1:59 AM ET
Cuts leave Chen, Mendoza alone in rotation battle
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The battle for the fifth spot in the Royals rotation was narrowed to two candidates on Monday -- left-hander Bruce Chen and right-hander Luis Mendoza -- when lefty Will Smith and righty Yordano Ventura were among seven pitchers sent to the Minor Leagues.
Smith, right-hander Nate Adcock and left-hander Everett Teaford were optioned to Triple-A Omaha. Ventura and fellow right-handers Blaine Boyer, Michael Mariot and Brian Sanches were reassigned to the Minor League camp.
"They all showed something. The problem we ran into is innings -- we're out of innings," manager Ned Yost said. "So we need them down on the other side pitching, in case something happens."
The moves reduced the camp roster to 45, and some position players were expected to be reassigned later in the day.
Smith, who was in the Royals' rotation for part of last season, pitched impressively in the Cactus League. In four games, he had a 1.64 ERA with 10 strikeouts and just one walk in 11 innings. Opponents hit .179 against him.
Smith, Adcock and Teaford would be possible callups in case of injury or other problems.
"Those are guys that we could quite possibly see, depending on situations, on what's happening. These are guys who we're going to count on to be ready in case we have a need," Yost said.
Ventura, rated the No. 3 Royals prospect by MLB.com, appeared in five games with a 3.86 ERA. He gave up nine hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings.
"He's going to start in Double-A, but you can get to the big leagues from Double-A as you can from Triple-A, just go do your thing," Yost said.
Adcock, a starter last season for Omaha and a part-time reliever for the Royals, appeared in eight Cactus games and posted a 1.08 ERA. Teaford got a late start because of a sore shoulder and pitched in just two games.
Boyer, who sat out last season, had a 6.23 ERA in five games. Mariot, a rising prospect, had a 3.86 ERA and held opponents to a .120 average in seven games. Sanches, one of the camp's oldest pitchers at 34, had a 4.50 ERA in four games.
Colon, Seratelli, Wood among camp cuts
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Infielder Christian Colon, the 10th-ranked Royals prospect by MLB.com, was among five non-roster players dropped from the Major League Spring Training roster after Monday night's game.
Also re-assigned to the Minor League camp were infielders Anthony Seratelli and Brandon Wood, outfielder Willy Taveras and catcher Adam Moore.
The in-camp roster is at 40 players, including disabled-list pitcher Felipe Paulino. With Opening Day just two weeks away, the Royals needed to reduce their numbers.
"[Before] the last two weeks of Spring Training," manager Ned Yost said, "we play our starting nine five innings and six innings, and this week we'll bump 'em to seven innings and then bump 'em to eight and they'll be ready to go. So we're starting to lose at-bats for position players and lose innings for pitchers and it's time to make the numbers smaller."
Earlier in the day, seven pitchers were cut.
Colon, a first-round pick as a shortstop in the 2010 Draft, batted .222 (6-for-27) in 15 games with a double and four RBIs.
"He's a talented kid. He can play short, but I think his position is eventually going to be second base," Yost said.
Wood bowed out with a two-run double in an 8-2 loss to the Rangers on Monday night. A former prime prospect for the Angels, he's trying to get back to the Major Leagues after being in the Minors all of 2012. He batted .323 (10-for-31) with two homers and nine RBIs in 17 Cactus League games.
Seratelli, who last season had a career-high 17 homers and hit .299 for in his first season for Triple-A Omaha, had a camp average of .208 (5-for-24). He was Double-A Northwest Arkansas' Player of the Year in 2011.
Moore, who has options remaining, lost out in competition with Brett Hayes and George Kottaras, both of whom are out of options, for the backup catching job. Moore hit two homers with a .320 average in 17 Cactus games.
Taveras, who didn't play last season, is attempting a comeback after seven years in the Majors that included a 68-steal season with the Rockies in 2008. His spring mark was .406 (13-for-32) with two doubles and a triple.
Santana hits first bumps of spring
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Ervin Santana had his roughest outing for the Royals on Monday night, giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk in an 8-2 loss to the Rangers.
"I was leaving the pitches up a little bit and I was behind in the count, too. That's why it happened," Santana said.
Santana pitched four innings but racked up an 80-pitch workout, throwing 49 strikes.
"I thought Santana was up a little more consistently than he [had been]," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But it was an Arizona field. Instead of giving up six, in a Major League game during the regular season he probably gives up three."
Santana gave up a long two-run homer to Ian Kinsler but was also hurt by balls that bounced high off a hard infield, including two RBI singles by Julio Borbon.
"The two balls that Borbon hit were both driven right down into the ground in front of the plate and it's like cement there and they both bounded over a drawn-in infield," Yost said. "During the regular season, every Major League park has soft [ground] there -- we hold both those runners and throw Borbon out at first base."
Yost was impressed by the life on left-hander Tim Collins' fastball in his return from the World Baseball Classic. He gave up one run on two hits.
Luke Hochevar gave up two hits and no runs with two strikeouts in one inning, his second outing since going to the bullpen.
"Luke threw the ball good. He had his fastball up to 96 mph and a real good curveball tonight," Yost said. "He continues to get a comfort level with relieving. I think he's going to really roll with it."
Hosmer benefits from early pressure of Classic
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Count Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer as a happy graduate of the World Baseball Classic.
"You're playing at a high level very soon, and it definitely does you a lot of good," Hosmer said. "When you're getting at-bats in a big atmosphere like that and in a turned-up level, it's definitely a good look."
Hosmer was a late replacement on Team USA for injured first baseman Mark Teixeira and played all six games, going 5-for-25, .200, with one double and five RBIs, second to Mets third baseman David Wright's team-high 10.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Hosmer said. "Look to my left and Jimmy Rollins is right there, and then you have a guy like Ryan Braun or David Wright. So it was a great learning experience for me, just seeing how those guys go about their business every day was great. Obviously, I hoped to make a little farther and continue on in the tournament.
"For me, it was probably the highest level of baseball I've played, and I think this year a lot of people see how serious teams are taking it and just hearing the excitement and how loud the crowd was getting when any team would score and the chants that went off, it was definitely a different experience than a regular Major League game and a fun one, that's for sure."
Hosmer returned to Royals action on Sunday and went 2-for-4 with two singles and two strikeouts. That gave him a .407 (11-for-27) average in the Cactus League.
"There was some concern he was getting out of whack, but I saw him in the game, saw him in BP and he looked great to me," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Indeed, Hosmer is convinced that he's holding true to the offseason adjustments he made in his hitting approach and the Classic only helped him.
"It feels good," Hosmer said, "and, honestly, being thrown in a pressure situation like the Classic was good, too, because I think early on I was getting excited, and towards the end I kind of learned how to calm everything down.
"I saw a lot more breaking pitches in the Classic, so that's a big help and I definitely feel like I'm where I want to be right now and the main thing is when the lights turn on, just keep that same composure. Not get so worked up and control that level of excitement and just slow everything down. ... It was a tremendous help for me."
O'Neil Legacy Seat program enters seventh year
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat program, a staple at Kauffman Stadium since 2007, will continue this season.
Once again, the Royals and FOX Sports Kansas City will recognize someone in the community who embodies Buck O'Neil's vibrant spirit with a place of honor in the seat that he filled for countless nights as a scout and a fan.
At the home opener on April 8 as the 40th anniversary of Kauffman Stadium is celebrated, the Royals will honor Charles Wheeler, who was the Kansas City mayor when the facility opened on April 10, 1973, with a 12-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Fans are invited to nominate worthy individuals for the honor this season by visiting www.royals.com/buckseat.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.