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Phillips, Bonifacio starting season in Minors

@FlannyMLB
March 20, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals made several roster moves on Tuesday, including optioning outfielders Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio to Triple-A Omaha. The Royals also sent right-hander Glenn Sparkman to Omaha and sent pitchers Richard Lovelady, Zack Lovvorn and Drew Storen to Minor League camp, along with catcher Xavier Fernandez,

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals made several roster moves on Tuesday, including optioning outfielders Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio to Triple-A Omaha.

The Royals also sent right-hander Glenn Sparkman to Omaha and sent pitchers Richard Lovelady, Zack Lovvorn and Drew Storen to Minor League camp, along with catcher Xavier Fernandez, infielders Jecksson Flores and Nicky Lopez and outfielders Elier Hernandez and Bubba Starling.

Storen, who hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since 2017 after having Tommy John surgery, is still trying to build up arm strength.

The moves of Phillips and Bonifacio were anticipated because both had options, and leaves the right-field/DH job between Brian Goodwin and Jorge Soler. Goodwin and Soler likely will alternate between right field and DH, though Whit Merrifield also could see some time in right field.

The Royals now have 37 players left in camp.

“I’m planning on them helping me at some point this year,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Bonifacio and Phillips. “Both kids, in my mind, have a chance to be everyday players. But with our depth, they don’t need to be up here sitting on the bench.”

Duffy progressing

Left-hander Danny Duffy, who won’t break camp with the team Sunday, continues his throwing program after overcoming a bout of left shoulder tightness. He is scheduled to throw a live bullpen session on Monday, and then a live up-and-down bullpen session on March 28 in extended spring training.

The Royals don’t need a fifth starter until April 10 or 11, and Yost indicated Duffy could be ready by then.

Junis works on changeup

Right-hander Jakob Junis, likely the Royals’ No. 2 starter, got in five innings of work on Tuesday night against the Cubs in the Royals’ 8-6 victory at Surprise Stadium.

Junis gave up five hits and two runs while striking out five.

“I really went in trying to throw as many changeups as I could,” Junis said. “It was the best I’ve thrown that pitch this spring. I got some swings and misses, which I was happy about.”

Junis got to throw to catcher Martin Maldonado, who made his Cactus League debut this spring and caught five innings.

Maldonado, who was hit by a pitch in the right calf during a Minor League game last week, said the calf has responded well.

“It loosened up pretty good,” he said. “I should be good.”

Up next

The Royals will travel to Scottsdale on Wednesday for an 8:40 p.m. CT game against the Rockies. Right-hander Jorge Lopez, who likely will be the team’s No. 3 starter, will start, followed by Chris Ellis, Michael Ynoa, Scott Barlow and Zack Lovvorn.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.