Nice way to get out of the box for new Royals left fielder Scott Podsednik. First inning: Sharp single to right field off Rangers No. 1 starter Rich Harden. Then, promptly, a steal of second base and, when catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw struck his leg and the ball rolled into left field, it was on to third base. As Jason Kendall, the second batter, hit an excuse-me tap to third base, Podsednik was home.
The Royals had struck first. Alas, the 1-0 lead morphed into a 13-3 deficit, but at least Pod showed something.
“I was kind of nervous today,” he said. “I was more excited than anything. We were all looking forward to this first game and getting out there and playing a little bit. . . . I feel like I’ve been around long enough that I don’t feel like I have anything to go out and prove but we are kind of the new guys in camp so you want to go out and show that you’re ready to go.”
Unfortunately, the Royals pitchers didn’t seem to be quite ready. Kyle Davies and Robinson Tejeda made too many pitches and gave up too many hits and runs but, hey, let’s not panic. They didn’t.
“I didn’t throw as many strikes as I would like to but the one curveball that got hit out wasn’t a bad pitch. It was just middle of the plate, down,” Davies said, noting Saltalamacchia’s three-run blast. “The kind of stuff you work on in Spring Training, for me it’s getting myself in a good position to throw a lot of strikes. I walked one guy and on four straight pitches and you look at and say, well, there’s some stuff to improve on and that’s what Spring Training is for.”
Davies didn’t try to get too fancy in his first outing.
“Pretty much fastballs and changeups today. I threw two curveballs and one of them left the ballpark,” Davies said. “Mostly it was fastballs and my biggest thing in the past has been fastball command so the one thing that I’m stressing in Spring Training is let’s get the fastball over the plate first. Let’s throw 70 percent of them for strikes and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Tejeda also tried to keep it simple.
“My arm feels good and so far the velocity’s good and I think I’ve got pretty much control on my ball. I haven’t worked a lot on my breaking pitch yet but it looks like it’s going to be there, too,” Tejeda said. “Today I threw the changeup and the slider but I was pretty much working with my fastball.”
Gil Meche has been scratched as the Royals’ starter on Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels. Reliever Robinson Tejeda was named to replace him.
Meche has a fatigued right shoulder, the Royals reported. He had been bothered by back problems earlier and was slow coming around since being activated from the disabled list. In his four starts since returning he had a 2-1 record with one no-decision and an ERA of 8.14. Meche lost his last game at Seattle, surrendering seven runs in four innings.
This will be Tejeda’s first start this season but the 48th of his career. He’s made 29 relief appearances this year with a 1-1 record and 4.07 ERA. In his last four games, he’s strung together 7 2/3 shutout innings and given up just one hit.
— Dick Kaegel
Right-hander Luke Hochevar, who took the loss for the Royals on Saturday against the Cardinals, was optioned to Triple-A Omaha as the club made a total of six roster moves following the game.
Shortstop Mike Aviles and reliever Robinson Tejeda were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The Royals added pitchers John Bale and Roman Colon and infielder Tug Hulett, all recalled from Omaha. Bale had been on an injury rehabilitation assignment.
Aviles has a strained right forearm and Tejeda has tendinitis of the right rotator cuff.
When you think about it, the addition of Juan Cruz not only gives the Royals a stronger bullpen but it pretty much sews up who will be in it.
You start from the back end with closer Joakim Soria. Plug in Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth and Ron Mahay as the set-up types. You’ve got Doug Waechter and Robinson Tejeda as the middle men and Jimmy Gobble as the lefty specialist.
As manager Trey Hillman was saying the other day, Farnsworth, Mahay, Waechter, Tejeda and Gobble are the type of guys that can go two innings and maybe even Cruz. So you’ve got plenty of depth in case a starter goes bad in the fourth inning and needs a lot of help. Then you hope the starter the next day can get through six or seven to help stretch things out.
Of course, Hillman also mentioned such guys as Brandon Duckworth and Joel Peralta and Jamey Wright and Carlos Rosa et al because the skipper doesn’t want to throw cold water on anybody’s hopes. And he shouldn’t because, hey, anything can happen in the next month. Somebody could get hot, somebody could get stinky, somebody could get hurt.
In fact, John Bale already has been diverted to an uncertain status because of his thyroid surgery. There’s no telling if he might be ready by Opening Day but that’s probably a long shot. Which is why you can pretty much make a logical forecast on the bullpen seven even at this early juncture. Shapes up as pretty magnificent seven, too, doesn’t it?
— Dick Kaegel
The only three Royals players unsigned are shortstop Mike Aviles, first baseman Billy Butler and outfielder Mitch Maier.
The club announced Saturday that six players had signed contracts: pitchers Julio Pimentel and Robinson Tejeda; catcher Brayan Pena; first baseman Ryan Shealy; second baseman Alberto Callaspo, and outfielder Shane Costa.
— Dick Kaegel