Cactus League: Royals go back to back to back, win opener 13-2.

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Baseball back and it feel so right. I’ve been missing these boys something fierce.

To celebrate, I decided to make a quick trip down to Surprise. I woke up at 3:30am, caught a 5:50am flight out of KC and was in PHX by 7:45am. My friend Dan – who you may remember from my time in Houston, Arizona and San Diego last April – lives in downtown Phoenix, so he and I are hitting a few games over the next few days. The current plan: catch today’s game in Surprise against the Rangers and Yordano Ventura’s start on Friday in Goodyear against the Indians. In between, I think we’ll go give Billy Butler a visit in his new A’s uniform against the Cubs on Thursday. Supposedly they have a pretty sweet new ballpark out here.

The Royals dominated their Cactus League opener 13-2. It was over early: it was 6-0 after 6 Royals batters. The pitching staff did their job, and the offense more than pulled their weight. 



 A few highlights…

Hosmer/Morales/Rios go back to back to back.

Like I said, this one was over early. Here’s how the first inning went down for good guys…

Escobar: BB
Dyson: 1B down the third baseline
Cain: 1B bloop to center, RBI
Hosmer: 3-run HR, at least 450′ to straight away centerfield
Morales: solo HR
Rios: solo HR

…Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales did a decent job making a first impression today. Both are coming off a down year in 2014 and lots of Royals fans are wondering if they’re worth the large contracts we’re giving them. Personally, I’m looking for both of them to bounce back. Will the power hitting continue in the regular season (or the rest of the Cactus League, for that matter)? Who knows. But it was good to see today.

Other first impressions: Morales looks more fit than Billy Butler, whom he’s replacing at DH. And Rios has very very long legs.

Tim Collins leaves game with elbow injury.

Collins is scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow, but initial reports make it sound like it isn’t super serious, but it’s something to keep an eye on for sure. Even if he’s injured, it’s not like losing Tim to an injury is going to make or break our bullpen. He’s fighting for one of the last spots in the pen as it is along with Franklin Morales as a lefty.

Perhaps the largest impact of a Tim Collins injury would be that if Franklin Morales doesn’t impress, the Royals may be forced to roll with Brandon Finnegan in the pen to start the season. They’d much rather let Finny begin the season in the minors, continuing to develop him as a starter, but if they can’t land a lefty reliever with Collins or Morales, Finnegan is likely their man.

Jandel Gustave throws fire and looked rull nice.

Replacing Tim Collins in today’s game: Jandel Gustave. The Royals acquired Gustave in the Rule 5 draft this offseason from the Houston Astros. The stipulation with the Rule 5 draft is that the player must remain on the 25-man roster for the season in order to retain the rights to that players contract. Gustave is young and throws a billion MPH, but his BB/9 ratio is a robust 6.7 during his time in the minors dating back to 2010. So basically, he has no idea where it’s going when he lets go. Which is scary because he throws 100+ MPH.

He came in from the bullpen today and fired three warmup fastballs…102…102…104. Sheesh. Talk about terrifying for an opposing hitter.

Cheslor Cuthbert: gems on gems on gems.

Cuthbert’s opportunity in the majors mostly depends on whether or not Mike Moustakas can turn the corner this year and put up some decent numbers in non-Cactus League play. He made a good case for an opportunity with three legit plays this afternoon. One diving to his right; one on a hard hit grounder and one leaning far over into the stands just past the Royals dugout. Looked stellar in the opener.

***

Those were my initial takeaways from today. Royals looked fresh and powerful. Definitely the better team. Tomorrow is the Billy Butler Memory Tour. Breaking out the Butler Roys jersey and A’s cap. Can’t wait.

-apc.

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