Starling proving roster nod was no mistake

Royals fall to Cards in final Summer Camp exhibition

July 23rd, 2020

Throughout Spring Training and Summer Camp, there was at least some question whether center fielder would factor into the 2020 Royals. Those doubts have been answered in two ways.

First, Starling proved his value by posting a 1.208 OPS during a Spring Training performance that included three home runs and three doubles. And now Starling, who is out of options, has been just as good in Summer Camp -- last highlighted in the club's 6-3 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Wednesday to wrap up exhibition play.

Starling’s spot on the Opening Day roster was secured when the Royals learned Wednesday that starting right fielder Hunter Dozier tested positive for COVID-19.

But the 27-year-old kept producing, socking another home run, his third in a week, in the Royals’ loss Wednesday. He also homered Monday against Houston, and he hit a grand slam in the final intrasquad game on Saturday.

“He’s in such a good spot offensively right now,” said Royals manager Mike Matheny. “He’s as dialed in as I’ve ever seen him, and you guys have seen him a lot longer than I have.

“But he’s taking such a nice, easy swing when he has to, and then he can also take an aggressive one when he gets the right pitch.”

Starling also lined a sharp single his first time up Wednesday -- all affirming his place is in the Kauffman Stadium outfield grass.

“I just like the way he can use the middle of the field, too, now,” Matheny said. “Plus, there are all the things he can do defensively. Just in a good spot right now.”

Here are some other highlights from the Royals’ final exhibition game:

• Catcher continued his torrid Summer Camp, blasting another home run Wednesday -- this time a solo shot to center field.

• Right-hander , just acquired last Thursday from the Padres, pitched a scoreless inning in his first outing for Kansas City. He walked two and struck out one.

• Right-hander started instead of , whose mother passed away Tuesday. Zimmer pitched a scoreless first inning on just seven pitches, five for strikes.

• Reliever pitched a scoreless eighth and figures to have a prominent role in the back end of the Royals’ bullpen this season. Kansas City was so impressed with Rosenthal's velocity (99-102 mph) out of Spring Training that it put him on the 40-man roster shortly after camp was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

• The Royals’ staff, though, had another rough day finding the strike zone, walking nine and hitting a Cardinal. Kansas City walked seven and hit three batters Tuesday.

“We’ve talked about the free passes,” Matheny said. “If you want to be a part of what we’re doing, you can’t do that.”