3/4/2014 7:15 P.M. ET
Royals getting prepped for first replay contest
Yost's first of five games with challenges set for Wednesday vs. D-backs
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals enter Major League Baseball's new instant replay era for the first time on Wednesday during their game against the host Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Royals manager Ned Yost said that officials have encouraged teams to make challenges in the Cactus League games to help test the broader innovation designed to correct erroneous decisions by umpires.
"Absolutely they have," Yost said. "They want you to go ahead and take advantage of the five games that you have, and use it and get a feel for it, and go from there."
The other four games in which the Royals will have access to instant replay will come next Saturday (at Brewers), next Tuesday (Dodgers), March 17 (Rangers) and March 25 (Mariners).
Yost said he won't be challenging just to be challenging.
"I'm not going to just do a play, but if it's something that we'd challenge during the year, we'll give it a shot," he said.
The Royals are training former catchers Bill Duplissea and Cody Clark to be their eyes on the instant replay monitors. Duplissea has been the club's bullpen catcher since 2006 and has been advance scouting coordinator for the last two years. Clark played in the Royals' Minor League system from 2007-12 and reached the Majors for the first time last year in 16 games with Houston.
"We're going to have two guys in the [TV] truck watching replay with the walkie-talkie and communicating advice back to the dugout, so we're going to try to do it as realistically as we can in all five of these games that we're going to do," Yost said.
"It's going to be a decision not based on emotion so you've got have the right guys that can do that."
Once the season begins, the Royals expect to have just one of them on instant replay duty.
"Both of them are capable of doing pregame activity, catching in the 'pen, throwing batting practice," Yost said. "We want to make sure we've got two guys trained for this [replay] job because if somebody gets sick, something happens, we've got a qualified backup. Which one's going to sit in the truck or which one's going to sit in the video booth, we haven't decided yet so we're training them both."
Chen stellar, Duffy struggles against Cincy
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Great results for Bruce Chen on Tuesday, not so good for Danny Duffy, but both Royals left-handers were satisfied with the way they pitched in a 9-5 victory over the Reds.
Chen, taking over in the fourth inning, had three perfect innings with a strikeout in each. He threw 36 pitches, including 25 strikes, in his second Cactus League outing.
"The results are there, I feel like I'm making good pitches, keeping the ball down, changing speeds really well," Chen said.
There's still some work to do, though, on his velocity.
"That's the one thing I wish I had a little more," Chen said. "I saw a couple times it was 82, 83 [mph]. I think I hit 85 one time, but I'm hoping as Spring Training progresses, I'll get stronger and stronger, and I'll be able to reach back and get some velocity whenever I need to."
Chen is already in the rotation as the fourth starter, but Duffy is trying to win the fifth spot over several other aspirants. In his first outing, Duffy gave up two runs in two innings including a home run to the Rangers' Prince Fielder.
This time, Duffy was tagged for four runs, three on back-to-back homers by Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier, in the first inning. Then, he pitched a perfect second inning although by then his pitch count had reached 40 and the Royals didn't send him out for a scheduled third inning.
"In the first inning, he was just off a little bit and some of those pitches probably could've been called strikes, but where he got hurt were pitches up the zone," manager Ned Yost said. "The second inning, man, he was great."
Duffy was pleased with his stuff and, except for an elevated pitch to Ludwick, with his location.
"I feel like 99.95 percent of the time if I throw the way I did today, I'm putting up two zeros and probably three," Duffy said. "I felt like I threw the ball very well, located very well."
The first out Duffy got in the second inning was an oddity -- Chris Heisey's hot shot went off Duffy's shin and directly to first baseman Eric Hosmer.
"If that's how I've got to get outs, I guess I'll take 'em that way," Duffy said.
Overall, Duffy thought he pitched pretty well.
"I'm really pushing to make that squad and I've got to get out there and do what I did today," he said. "Just hopefully next time there'll be better results."
Infante slated for duty as designated hitter
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Omar Infante missed his fifth consecutive game because of a stiff throwing shoulder on Tuesday, but he's scheduled to return to the lineup on Wednesday -- as the designated hitter.
Infante said he threw on Monday and his shoulder is improving. He played in the first Cactus League game but not since.
"His swing is one where he's not going to need a whole bunch of at-bats to get going. So I'm not too concerned about it," manager Ned Yost said.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar returned from Miami, where his wife, Francys, gave birth to their first child, a boy. He has yet to play in a game and Yost doesn't plan to play him for at least a couple of days.
Giavotella has hitting shoes on early in camp
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Johnny Giavotella hasn't lost his knack for hitting -- he was 4-for-11 with a triple and two doubles in his first five Cactus League games.
"I'm feeling good, I feel confident in my mechanics at the plate, I'm seeing the ball well and having good at-bats," Giavotella said. "Hitting is always something I take pride in, something that I feel is my strength, and I enjoy getting in the box anytime."
This 2014 Royals roster will be tough to crack, though, with Omar Infante signed to play second base and the likelihood that just one backup infielder will make it. Danny Valencia is considered the front-runner there.
"I don't really think about it, I don't let it get to me," Giavotella said. "I just go out and do what I do every day and bring the utmost energy and intensity to every game, and play my hardest no matter what situation I'm in and help the team win any way that I can."
Giavotella, 26, has been a .317 hitter in his three years with Triple-A Omaha but, in three trials with Kansas City in those same three seasons, his average is just .240.
Last season, he played 29 games at third base and 20 games in left field for Omaha. Although the Royals are on a binge of moving players around in Spring Training, Giavotella hasn't been affected much.
"For the most part, I've been playing second base," he said. "I think that's where my value is at and I think they understand that too, and they're just sticking me there right now."
Giavotella, a second-round pick in the 2008 Draft, has been with four championship teams in his six years in the organization, including Omaha in 2013.
"Low-A, Double-A and two Triple-A -- I have four rings," he said. "Once you get that winning taste in your mouth, you don't want to lose it."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.