Notes: Improving the fundamentals
Bale slated for Wednesday start; Sanchez suffers pulled groin
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was back to basics again for the Royals on Monday, and this time manager Trey Hillman felt differently about the outcome.
"Elated," he said.
That was in direct contrast to his reaction after a drill on bunting fundamentals last Friday, when his review was two thumbs down. This time the bunting was mixed with the hit-and-run, fake bunt and slash, and stolen base.
"We made a few mistakes but, as far as offensive and defensive execution, I was pleased. We put the pitchers in difficult situations and, overall, I was very pleased with the way all six guys threw the ball," Hillman said.
The bunting improved.
"The technique was better. The guys were concentrating more on being more fundamentally sound with just setting up and getting the proper angle with the bunts," he said.
The drill lasted an hour and a half and involved three sets of fielders, six pitchers and rotating hitters.
"I saw some guys handle the bat really well," Hillman said. "Situationally, I saw effort to do what we needed to do. With a runner on second base, I saw selectivity from the hitters and I saw the pitchers trying to counter it with their batterymate, the catcher, setting up inside and busting a guy in and [moving him] off the plate a little bit," he said.
The hit-and-run was executed reasonably well despite a lack of good pitches to hit.
"There was not a good pitch all day to hit-and-run on. I don't know if the pitchers sniffed it out and threw in on the hands," he said.
"We had a screw-up on one. David [DeJesus] didn't swing and he's got to swing if it's a catchable ball. But we're doing some things that these guys in recent years have not necessarily done a whole lot of, or that's my perception."
Tony Pena Jr. again showed improvement bunting and came within a whisker of pulling off a successful squeeze. However, charging first baseman Ryan Shealy made a diving, grass-top catch and threw to third base for a double play.
Brandon Duckworth, Ryan Braun, Leo Nunez, Roberto Giron, Matt Peterson and Ben Hendrickson did the pitching. Left fielder Mark Teahen got in some defensive work at first base.
Catcher John Buck pounded a home run to left-center field against Peterson.
Did he swing through a bunt sign?
"No, I got the 'go ahead, swing it,'" Buck said.
Wait a minute: Once again the Royals have changed the starting pitcher for Wednesday's game against the Texas Rangers.
Now left-hander John Bale is scheduled to start. Originally, it was Brett Tomko. Then Jorge De La Rosa was named.
"We flip-flopped him and Bale simply because De La Rosa has been a little under the weather and we wanted him to have another day," Hillman said.
"He had a little cold and we want to be as fair as we can in giving guys fair shakes, especially in their first outing, so we thought it'd be a good idea to go with a healthy John Bale."
That means that De La Rosa instead of Bale will be one of the starting pitchers in Thursday's intrasquad game. De La Rosa is getting over his cold but looked a little off in his last throwing session, so the change was made.
Now it's official: Originally, Wednesday's charity game against the Rangers was not going to be counted as an official Cactus League game. It was going be just an "exhibition exhibition game."
But the matter went to the top. The Cactus League commissioner, or at least someone in the Major League Baseball office, ruled that the game will count in the standings and that all individual statistics will count.
Also, although the Royals had been listed as the visiting team, they now are the home team. This will be the first Cactus League game of the spring in the Phoenix area. The Rockies and White Sox also open Wednesday in Tucson.
Sanchez injured: Shortstop Angel Sanchez suffered a pulled groin while running a sprint and was held out of practice on Monday. His availability is day-to-day.
"We'll be very cautious after missing what he did last year with the elbow surgery. He's having a good camp and that's frustrating for him. He was walking OK today but he felt it," Hillman said.
Sanchez missed all of last season because of reconstructive elbow surgery.
Outfielder Joey Gathright has had a sore right wrist but took some swings on Monday in the batting cage and he said he's fine.
Pitcher Tyler Lumsden missed two days last week because of dehydration caused by illness but is back at work. "I've got my feet under me now," he said.
GM away from camp: General manager Dayton Moore left the Royals' camp to be with his mother, who underwent surgery Monday in Houston.
Minor Leaguers arrive: Early camp for Royals Minor League players began on Monday at the Surprise complex. Seventy-one players were listed on the roster including last year's first pick in the First-Year Player Draft, shortstop Mike Moustakas, and the organization's pitcher of the year, left-hander Rowdy Hardy.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.