SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ramon Hernandez brings a lot of credentials to his bid to become the Royals' backup to catcher Salvador Perez.
Hernandez has played 15 Major League seasons and 1,526 games; he's been in six postseasons with Oakland, San Diego and Cincinnati; he was an All-Star in 2003 and, oh yes, he's a .319 hitter at Kauffman Stadium.
He's also 37 years old and sat out most of last season, although that isn't keeping him from being in competition with Brett Hayes, Frank Pena and Adam Moore.
"He has a lot of experience, he's looked good here so far. Both he and Brett Hayes have looked great. All the catchers [have]," manager Ned Yost said.
Hernandez played just 17 games for the Dodgers last year before being released in June. The Blue Jays gave him a brief look at Triple-A Buffalo before he decided to go home to Fort Lauderdale.
"I went home and decided to rest, start working out, then go play winter ball and see if I could catch there a lot," Hernandez said. "It was like a new start-- catch in winter ball and if I sign, great. If not, that's it. It's been a long, nice career."
Being home gave him a lot of time to think things over.
"It's just relaxing. I had a great time when I went home. Refreshed my mind and thought about what I wanted to do. Being with my family, they gave me a lot of support and gave me a new power to start new and fresh," he said.
Hernandez returned to his native Venezuela and played 22 games for Magallanes, batting .328. The Royals saw enough that they signed him to a Minor League contract with a shot to win the backup job.
Defensive skills are the primary requirement.
"Because when we give Salvy a day off, I want him to have a day off so you've got to be able to block a nasty slider from Greg Holland," Yost said. "You've got to be able to control the running game late in a one-run game so I don't have to bring Salvy off the bench like I had to do numerous times last year."
Hernandez has great respect for Perez, 23.
"He's a great kid. He's got a lot of energy. He plays with passion and loves the game of baseball. He has fun playing," Hernandez said.
After years as the regular catcher for the A's, Padres, Orioles and Reds, Hernandez is willing to fill in occasionally for All-Star and Gold Glove winner Perez.
"I got to the point where I had a couple of surgeries to my knees and my body's not the same. So it's kind of tough to catch four or five games in a row," Hernandez said. "Your body lets you know what you can do and what you can't. My mind wants to do it, but your body lets you know. But I'm very happy where I am and if I can play a couple more years, it'd be great as a backup here to help.
"I definitely love the game. That's why I'm still around."
Royals assign pitchers to first five spring games
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching coach Dave Eiland expanded the assignments for the Royals' first five Cactus League games, posting a lengthy list of names on the clubhouse bulletin board on Sunday.
"That's everybody," he said.
Well, almost. Eiland listed 29 of the 30 pitchers on the camp roster. Excluded was Kyle Zimmer, the team's top-rated prospect, who is being brought along slowly because of arm issues late last season and over the winter.
The complete pitching assignments:
Thursday vs. Rangers -- Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy, Donnie Joseph, Cory Wade, Guillermo Mota, Scott Alexander, Kelvin Herrera.
Friday at Rangers - James Shields, Chris Dwyer, Jason Adam, Sugar Ray Marimon, Everett Teaford, Michael Mariot, Tim Collins.
Saturday vs. Padres -- Jason Vargas, Brad Penny, Aaron Brooks, Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, Jon Rauch.
Sunday at Cubs -- Wade Davis, Yordano Ventura, John Lamb, Francisley Bueno, P.J. Walters.
Monday, March 3, at White Sox -- Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Hochevar, Justin Marks, Louis Coleman.
Yost, Royals to test new replay rules in spring
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost will get a chance to test the new instant replay rules in five games during Spring Training.
They are among games being televised by various outlets: March 5, at D-backs; March 8, at Brewers; March 11, vs. Dodgers; March 17, vs. Rangers, and March 25, vs. Seattle. The last two are night games.
Yost said that for purposes of the tests, the decisions on disputed plays are expected to be made off monitors in the press box rather than the New York location that will be used during the season.
Former managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, representing the Commissioner's Office, are to meet with the Royals and other clubs this week at Peoria to discuss replay procedures.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.