After making it through a long winter (actually the weather has been quite nice throughout much of the country), the time has finally come. The Kansas City Royals enter into exhibition mode on Sunday when they face the Texas Rangers at 1:05 local time.
The Royals will send Luis Mendoza to the mound, against one of his former teams. From looking at some twitter feeds of people who are in Surprise, it appears the Royals are really high on Mendoza. Being out of options, it appears the orgnization is attempting to give Mendoza every opportunity to crack the starting rotation out of spring training.
Mendoza did well in two starts at the end of last season with the Royals when he posted 2-0 record with a 1.23 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 14.2 innings pitched. The 28-year old right hander excelled in Omaha last season in which he put up a salty 2.18 ERA in 144.1 innings, while finishing with a 12.5 record.
So has Mendoza finally started to figure things out? That is up in the air at the moment, but Kansas City is definitely intrigued. His strikeouts were actually down and the walks were up last season, but he was allowing two less hits per nine innings compared to his career numbers.
I have no issues with giving a player a long look in spring training, but this decision will have a direct impact on second year pitcher Danny Duffy. Duffy will become more polished as he gets more starts at the major league level, and you don't exactly want to toy around with the progression for the benefit of keeping a roster spot open for a fringe player. This will be one of the more interesting decisions to track during spring training.
Joel Goldberg and Bob Dutton touch on the issue in this Fox Sports Kansas City video.
In other news, single game tickets for the regular season went on sale today at Kauffman Stadium. With so many places to buy tickets online, I am not sure what the turn out will be, however expect a good crowd out at the ballpark today.