Spring Training Notes: Escape from Surprise

Yeah, that was your heart that skipped a beat when reading the tweet about Ian Kennedy.

The depth of the pitching in general and the starters specifically has been the subject of much bandwidth this spring. It’s kind of ridiculous to test that depth before the season even starts. Word came quickly Kennedy had a tight hamstring and left the game as a precaution. We’ve heard those words before. Gulp.

And exhale.

That moment – in an exhibition game for crying out loud – underscores the fragility of the rotation. It’s not just the Royals in this position. Every team feels the same way. Depth is a good thing to have. And then you have to use it.

The Royals have already announced their starting rotation for the first week or so of the season.

Sunday vs. Mets – Edinson Volquez
Tuesday vs. Mets – Kennedy
Friday vs. Twins – Yordano Ventura
Saturday vs. Twins – Chris Young
Sunday vs. Twins – Volquez

From there your two, three, and four starters fall into line and will be backed up by Kris Medlen in the fifth spot. The Royals don’t have an off day the second week of the season, traveling to Houston for four games and Oakland for three, so Medlen figures to make his rotation debut on April 14 against the Astros.

Naturally, that all is dependent upon the health of Kennedy’s hamstring. For now, everything seems hunky dory and the rotation remains set. The possible fallout could come in the form of carrying a 12-man pitching staff straight out of the gate as coverage. Also, if necessary the Royals could skip Kennedy, move everyone forward a spot, and have Medlen pitch the Saturday game. We’ll see.

I know the Royals made mention of giving Ventura the opportunity to fully recover from a bout with the flu, and from his start on Monday, it looks like he needs it. It’s also smart player management. The series with the Mets figures to be heated. Maybe not, but the potential is there. After the fireworks to start the last season, it just makes sense to have Ventura make his first start of the season on a Friday night against the Twins. Let him enjoy the festivities for two days, take a couple days off, and then get down to business.

— On Tuesday the Royals announced they released outfielder Travis Snider from his minor league contract. Snyder hit .262/.295/.405 in 42 spring at bats, but the emergence of Reymond Fuentes and Whit Merrifield guaranteed Snider wouldn’t break camp with the big league club.

Reports indicate the Royals would like to re-sign him for Triple-A outfield depth.

Jarrod Dyson won’t be staying behind for extended spring training, but will be traveling with the team back to Kansas City before reporting for a rehab assignment.

Dyson is currently taking swings off a tee and probably won’t take full batting practice until sometime next week. He’s still reporting some discomfort, but it sounds like he will miss a minimum of two weeks once the season starts, although it could be a little longer to recover his timing since he missed the entire exhibition schedule.

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