3/19/2014 9:24 P.M. ET
Sky's the limit for Ventura, but not innings
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Now that young right-hander Yordano Ventura has won his spot in the Royals' rotation, the question is: Will he have a limit on the number of innings he can pitch this year?
"No," manager Ned Yost said. "We're looking at him to throw 180, 200 innings."
Published reports had suggested that the Royals will have an inning limit on Ventura, 22. But Yost brushed that off emphatically.
Last year Ventura worked a total of 150 innings in 28 starts for Northwest Arkansas, Omaha and Kansas City. In the process, he notched 166 strikeouts against 59 walks.
Decision on Duffy, Majors or Minors, remains
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- So will it be the Kansas City bullpen or the Omaha starting rotation for left-hander Danny Duffy?
"There's going to be a lot of debate on if this is the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Probably so, whichever way it goes.
Not too long ago, general manager Dayton Moore and Yost were leaning toward having the loser of the Duffy vs. Yordano Ventura rotation battle go to Omaha to start. That way he'd be stretched out and ready to return if Kansas City needed a starter because of injury or ineffectiveness.
However, after Ventura secured the rotation spot, there was increased talk of having Duffy perhaps take the seventh bullpen spot and work relief in the Majors.
"If you're going to have success, you're going to have to do it up here," Yost said on Wednesday. "So if he's not a starter and there's a spot open and he wins that spot, then we can ease him into situations like we did (Luke Hochevar) to where, hopefully, he can continue to grow, continue to progress at the Major League level."
Hochevar, though, was never brought out of his bullpen role last year to return to starting.
The Royals believe Duffy's future is definitely as a starter and the question is, what's the best way to get him to that point?
"There are so many scenarios here," Yost said. "Do we start with him in the bullpen for six weeks and then, boom, send him back to the Minors to get built up?"
Duffy has competition for the last bullpen spot remaining in camp: Francisley Bueno, Donnie Joseph, Jon Rauch, Cory Wade and P.J. Walters. So, before a decision on Duffy is made, one other thing has to occur.
"He has to make the team," Yost said.
Infante out again, while Escobar improves
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Omar Infante had a cortisone shot in his sore right elbow and was out of the Royals' lineup against the Reds on Wednesday night.
"It's a bone spur, nothing really serious," manager Ned Yost said. "It's a thing that'll pop up from time to time, but we'll let it calm down and he'll be OK. Just go day to day with it, see how he's feeling."
This was the second straight game Infante has missed. Shortstop Alcides Escobar was out again and hasn't played since March 9 because of a right shoulder problem.
But there was good news on Escobar.
"I came out (Tuesday) to watch him throw and he was throwing bullets to 150 feet," Yost said. "He's going to be fine. His arm was feeling much better."
Escobar also did well in a throwing test on Wednesday and is scheduled to play on Thursday in a Minor League game with the possibility of returning to the Cactus League soon.
With both middle infielders hurting, Yost was asked if he was considering adding another backup infielder to his roster plans, possibly by reducing his pitching staff from the planned 12 to 11.
"We're not looking at doing that right now," Yost said.
As it now stands, Danny Valencia is considered to be the only likely extra infielder and he's primarily a corner guy, although he's been playing some second base in Spring Training. Pedro Ciriaco, a shortstop, is still in camp as well.
Complicating matters is that both Valencia and Ciriaco are out of Minor League options.
But Yost is keeping his options open on a second backup infielder.
"Could that change tomorrow?" he said. "Yeah, it very well could."
Hochevar undergoes Tommy John surgery
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar underwent Tommy John surgery successfully on Tuesday, the club announced.
Hochevar had the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow repaired by Dr. Neal ElAttache in Los Angeles. In addition to that, Hochevar had a posterior bone spur removed with no complications reported from either procedure.
Spring Training began with Hochevar, who had a highly successful stint in relief last year, trying to regain a spot in the starting rotation. However, Hochevar felt pain during his first Cactus League appearance on March 3 and didn't pitch again.
Hochevar will miss the entire 2014 season as he begins rehabilitation from the surgery.
Widow of McGuff named O'Neil recipient
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kay McGuff, widow of the prominent Kansas City journalist Joe McGuff, will be the honoree as the eighth season of the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat program begins in 2014.
The Royals have paid tribute to O'Neil since 2007 by filling "Buck's seat" behind home plate with community members who embody his vibrant spirit. O'Neil played for and managed the Kansas City Monarchs, was a Major League coach and scout and co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as well as ambassador-at-large for the game. He died in 2006.
McGuff, as sports editor and columnist for the Kansas City Star, played an important role in obtaining a Major League expansion team for the city after the A's departed for Oakland in 1967. The Royals began play in 1969 and this will be their 45th season.
After joining the Star in 1948, McGuff became sports editor in 1966. Twenty years later, he was named editor and vice president of the Star, a position he held until retiring in 1992. He was voted into the writers' wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985, the year the Royals won the World Series. He threw out of the first pitch for the seventh game of the Series. The press box at Kauffman Stadium is named after McGuff.
From 1994 to 2000, McGuff served on the Royals' board of directors. Afflicted with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, he died in 2006.
Fans throughout the Midwest can nominate individuals they feel are worthy of filling "Buck's seat" by visiting www.royals.com/buckseat. Honorees receive five game tickets, food vouchers, a commemorative plaque and recognition on the scoreboard and the Fox Sports telecast.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.