Pitchers and catchers can report to spring training on Monday, and their first workout will come on Tuesday. Position players will start arriving on Wednesday, with their first workout starting on Thursday. All Kansas City Royals players not participating in the World Baseball Classic are required to report to camp by February 20th, although the Royals normally have most of their players report earlier than the deadline. Baseball, mercifully, is just around the corner.
Spring training is a time for optimism and hope for most baseball fans, since almost every team feels like they have a chance to compete for a division title in the spring. The players themselves also appear optimistic about the year, and I imagine every player believes that they will perform well during the season.
A few players for every team each season take this optimism a step farther, and will point to same change they made as evidence that they will play better this summer than they did last summer. Generally, these stories have a similar premise; Player X worked out really hard this off-season, and is reporting to spring training in the best shape of their lives.
Hardball Talk does a great job keeping track of players reporting to camp in the BSOHL, but there are many variations of this type of article. Grant Brisbee wrote an article last season on the different "thisplayeristotallygoingtobebetternowology" stories that fans are treated to each spring, which can include pitchers adding a new pitch, hitters changing their swing and/or fixing their eyesight, and players fixing a previously unknown affliction.
It seems likely that Royals fans will read plenty of these style of stories this off-season, since most people are optimistic about the team in 2013, and don't want to hear that everyone has been eating fried chicken and drinking beer during the winter. So which players are the likely candidates to have an article written about them praising a change they made during the off-season?
Hitter changing his approach
2012 example: Chris Getz "stinging the ball."
2013 candidates: Jeff Francoeur managed to lock this one up before spring training started, courtesy of Sean Keeler from FSKC. Frenchy is so ready for 2013, he couldn't wait until spring to prove how ready he is.
Player X is finally healthy
2012 example: Nobody said Jonathan Broxton was in the BSOHL last season, but he did undergo elbow surgery in November of 2011 to fix some arm issues before reporting to camp.
2013 candidates: Lorenzo Cain is also ahead of the curve, as Pete Grathoff of the KC Star penned an article informing us that Cain did leg exercises to prepare for a healthy 2013 season.
Pitcher changing his delivery
2012 example: Luis Mendoza changed his arm angle before his magical 2011 PCL season, and his consistency with the new release point helped him earn his spot in the rotation last season.
2013 candidates: Luke Hochevar seems like an obvious choice. Ervin Santana is also a likely candidate for Dave Eiland to unearth a flaw in his 2012 delivery that he can totally fix.
Player adding muscle mass
2012 example: Mike Moustakas came into 2012 camp looking chiseled and toned.
2013 candidates: Yost has already mentioned that Getz appears to have added some muscle mass, so maybe this is the season that he manages to hit a home run. I also think Eric Hosmer will follow the example Moustakas has set and will report to camp looking stronger.
Player in the best shape of his life
2012 example: Billy Butler lost weight before the 2012 season, earning himself some praise from Yost.
2013 candidates: Miguel Tejada is a candidate, since his spot on this team needs to be justified somehow, but he was already in the BSHOL last season. I'm thinking Wade Davis will report to camp in the BSOHL. The team is clearly optimistic about his future, and I'm sure Davis wants to lock up his spot in the starting rotation.
Announcer in the best shape of his life
2012 example: Mustard-squirting phenom Rex Hudler blazed a new trail last season, showing that broadcast guys need to stay in shape as well.
2013 candidates: This is the year for Joel Goldberg to unlock his true potential. Let's hope he hit the weight room during the off-season.