Notes: Mondesi update; Duffy K's 6 Reds

McBroom, O'Hearn homer vs. Cincinnati; Royals option pitchers

March 7th, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Royals shortstop , who had left shoulder surgery last fall, still hasn’t played in a Cactus League game.

The Royals and manager Mike Matheny remain hopeful that Mondesi will begin playing games soon, hopefully with enough time to be ready for Opening Day in Chicago on March 26. Mondesi was not in the lineup as the Royals beat the Reds, 7-2, on Saturday at Surprise Stadium.

Mondesi got some good news on Friday when his surgeon pronounced his rehab process right on schedule.

“He had a great conversation with his surgeon that validated his feeling that everything is right where it should be,” Matheny said. “So hopefully, we can continue to amp things up. It was a positive day.”

Matheny said Mondesi experienced some soreness recently that Matheny wouldn’t necessarily term a setback. But Matheny said it did create a “pause” in Mondesi’s rehab.

“As he has been pushed, it has created this little pause here,” Matheny said. “So [Mondesi] just wanted some reassurance, and the surgeon got his hands on him and said everything looks really good. That’s the green light to keep pushing and whatever he’s feeling is completely normal.”

Matheny said he isn’t sure how many actual Cactus League games Mondesi nears to appear in to be ready for the opener.

“I don’t have that perfect number,” Matheny said. “It would be more about how he looks and how the work he has been doing can translate into games. You can mimic some of the things.”

How certain is Matheny that Mondesi will be ready for Opening Day?

“I don’t know if you can say you are ever without doubt,” Matheny said. “Even with [Salvador Perez, who underwent Tommy John surgery], you’re talking about major procedures. You’re hopeful, but there’s always a chance for a setback.”

If Mondesi has a setback and isn’t ready for Opening Day, the Royals likely would move Nicky Lopez, projected to be the starting second baseman, to shortstop and perhaps center fielder Whit Merrifield to second base. That probably also would open the door for the versatile Erick Mejia to sneak on the 26-man roster. Mejia is a natural second baseman who can play shortstop and center field.

Duffy sharp
Left-hander , projected to be the Royals' No. 2 starter this season, had a superb start, giving up one hit while striking out six over four scoreless innings.

“It was a good outing,” Duffy said. “I do have to work on getting my changeup down, and my fastball command arm side has to get better. But everything comes with time. I’ll fine-tune it. I felt like I was really commanding most everything pretty well.”

Duffy’s four-inning outing was the longest of any Royals pitcher this spring.

“I was hoping to go four,” Duffy said. “I accomplished that so now on to the next one.”

Added Matheny, “He was just outstanding. He’s looked good all spring and today was exceptional.”

McBroom, O’Hearn go deep
As a soft platoon at first base appears more and more likely, Ryan McBroom and Ryan O’Hearn continue to show why that could make a lot of sense for the 2020 Royals.

McBroom hit a two-run home run, his third, in the third inning. O’Hearn, moments later, also hit a two-run home run, also his third.

Kowar, Lynch to Minor League camp
The Royals announced they optioned right-handed pitchers Scott Blewett (to Triple-A Omaha) and Carlos Hernández (to Class A Advanced Wilmington) and assigned pitchers Conner Greene, Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch to Minor League Camp.

Junis getting close
Right-hander Jakob Junis, who missed his last start because of lower back inflammation, will throw a simulated game Sunday. Matheny said he anticipates Junis will then make a start a few days after that.

Up next
Left-hander Kris Bubic, the Royals' No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, will get the start on Sunday in Glendale against the White Sox at 3:05 p.m. CT. Bubic has made one Spring Training appearance, throwing two scoreless innings against the Brewers on Feb. 27. Yunior Marte, Foster Griffin, Ofreidy Gomez, Gabe Speier, Arnaldo Hernandez, Jake Kalish, Tyler Zuberand Kyle Zimmer also are expected to pitch.