Royals ride off-day wave of fun at Six Flags

Pasquantino shows his 'skills' at 3-point challenge; KC rounds out bench spots

March 28th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- When the Royals were given an off-day in the Dallas area on Sunday, player plans varied. Some, like , got to see family. Some slept in and hung out by the pool.

Four of them went to Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in Arlington, and had what seemed like the time of their lives. , , and spent the afternoon riding roller coasters and playing carnival games.

“Vinnie saw there was a Six Flags here, so we looked it up and it was like nine miles away,” said Massey, who homered in the Royals' 4-4 tie with the Rangers in Monday night's exhibition at Globe Life Field. “We’re doing it. We bought the platinum pass, which there was absolutely no need for because there were like 100 people in the park.

“It was like, maybe, the best day of my life.”

The games brought out the competitors in them. Melendez won a giant, gold jalapeño pepper playing a game that required them to knock over blocks with small bean bags.

“It took me way longer than it should have,” Melendez said. “But I got the prize, that’s what matters.”

Pasquantino won a jumbo-sized Squirtle from Pokémon playing the three-point basketball challenge. He did not start off strong, going 0-for-12, but he bounced back by the third round with his high score of eight three-pointers made.

“In one of the rounds, he was like, ‘I’m going to nail this.’ Eye of the Tiger was playing,” Massey said. “First shot, he got up there, and he missed it by like four feet. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. You could tell he was so locked in, and it wasn’t even close.”

“I pushed through,” Pasquantino added. “I’m going to stick to baseball.”

The group’s favorite ride was Mr. Freeze, a launched shuttle roller coaster that reaches 70 mph. Massey and Melendez both love roller coasters; Isbel and Pasquantino found themselves a little queasy by the end of some rides.

“It was one of the more exciting ones,” Melendez said. “I love the adrenaline. So anything I can do to give me that thrill, I’m going to do. It was fun riding all the roller coasters. Growing up, I used to go to Universal [Studios] and all that in Florida with family, and it was fun to do it with teammates.”

Bench shaping up

The Royals informed non-roster invitees and that they will make the Opening Day roster. also is expected to break camp with the team. Those moves won’t become official until Thursday because the club must make corresponding 40-man moves to put those three on the 26-man roster.

Kansas City can still move lefty (Tommy John recovery) and outfielder (right shoulder dislocation) to the 60-day injured list, but they’ll have to designate another player for assignment or make a trade for that third spot.

Manager Matt Quatraro also said outfielder and utilityman  have made the team. That gives clarity on the Royals’ bench to start the season. Quatraro could start Olivares (a righty) or Bradley (a lefty) in the outfield alongside Melendez and Isbel. Duffy will be infield depth, and Eaton can back up anywhere on the field. Both can serve as defensive replacements late in games.

If Reyes doesn’t DH, he’ll be a right-handed bat off the bench. On Monday night, he struck out pinch-hitting in the top of the sixth against Rangers lefty Brock Burke.

Royals rumblings

• The Royals are still working through final bullpen decisions, with a few options for that last spot. and  appear to be the top two candidates, although it could depend also on who is pegged as the fifth starter.

• Quatraro said Melendez will make a majority of his outfield appearances in right, because he’s more comfortable there. And when Olivares plays, he’s most comfortable in left field.

• The Royals might not have an everyday leadoff hitter to begin the season. Melendez and Witt are the two top candidates, but they might switch off based on the handedness of the pitcher and what the rest of the lineup looks like in that game. The No. 9 hitter might influence the decision, too.

“I look at it more like three-to four-hitter clusters,” Quatraro said. “Say Bobby’s leading off, and another right-handed hitter is hitting ninth. You’ve got to be careful about who’s hitting second. If it’s another righty, or if it’s three lefties, you’re setting yourself up there, if a bullpen is left-handed heavy.”