James Shields and the Royals play their final game in Arizona this afternoon at 3:05 Central Daylight Time. They will head north tomorrow to play two exhibition games in Milwaukee against the Brewers on Friday and Saturday.
Earlier this week - and even before that - most of us had a pretty clear picture of the Royals' plans for their Opening Day roster: 7 relievers, 2 back-up outfielders, a back-up catcher and Danny Valencia. However, whether saner minds came into play or sanity was forced upon the Royals via injury, it is now looking more and more as though the team will open the season next Monday with just six (gasp!) reliever in the pen.
The lingering elbow issues of second baseman Omar Infante, while not enough to actually force Dayton Moore's hand, have kept Pedro Ciriaco and Jason Donald in camp. Now, with the news that Louis Coleman (who apparently is destined to never open the season on the active major league roster) has a bone bruise to a finger on his pitching hand and will likely open the season on the disabled list it very much appears that Kansas City will actually take a utility infielder north.
With a back-dating of Coleman's anticipated DL stint, he could be eligible to be reactivated as early as April 8th. With 8 games and two off days between the start of the season and April 11th, going with six relievers seems entirely possible and, in fact, quite logical.
The beneficiary of this would appear to be Ciriaco, who has logged more middle infield time this spring than any other player, is already on the 40 man roster and is out of options. The Royals could, as many have pointed out, choose Donald instead by simply moving Luke Hochevar to the 60 man disabled list and adding Donald to the 40 man roster in his place.
As far as filling the spot vacated by Coleman, who was a virtual lock for one of the first six spots, the Royals apparently have zero interest in keeping Patrick Schuster. The acquisition of the Rule 5 encumbered reliever is apparently some sort of Hoodoo-Guru roster maneuvering with regard to the DFA of outfielder Carlos Pegeuro. It seems Francisely Bueno lives to pitch another day!
In the end, I'm thinking the 25 boils down to:
- Perez, Hayes
- Butler, Hosmer, Infante, Escobar, Moustakas, Valencia, Ciriaco
- Gordon, Cain, Aoki, Dyson, Maxwell
- Shields, Vargas, Ventura, Guthrie, Chen
- Holland, Herrera, Davis, Crow, Collins, Bueno