Singer concludes spring in dominant fashion

Royals finish Cactus League No. 1; Alberto added to 40-man roster

March 29th, 2021

couldn’t have asked for a better end to his Spring Training on Monday with a dominant start against the Indians in the Royals’ 5-4 walk-off win at Surprise Stadium.

The Royals' right-hander allowed just two hits -- only one out of the infield -- in five innings, striking out five against just one walk. It was as good of a sendoff as any as the Royals pack up Monday night to head to Kansas City for Opening Day on Thursday.

“I feel really good,” Singer said. “I feel strong. The build-up was great throughout the starts, so I feel great. I felt like it was exactly what I needed.”

As the Royals' No. 3 starter, Singer will get his first regular-season start on Sunday against the Rangers. He had all his pitches working for him Monday, including the changeup that he’s worked on all spring. He said he could still use some depth to his slider, but he was able to get swings and misses off the pitch anyway.

“He was fantastic,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s just the kind of tuneup we were hoping for with him. He did everything we were hoping he would do, commanded the fastball, slider looked good, just one really good last one for him.”

The next time Singer takes the mound, he’ll do so in front of fans for the first time in his Major League career. The 24-year-old pitched in front of empty stadiums in his rookie year in 2020. But his family will be at Kauffman Stadium for his first start of his sophomore season, Singer said, which makes it all worth it.

“Whole family’s coming, girlfriend’s coming, everybody’s coming,” Singer said. “They’re excited. We couldn’t be more ready.”

Singer said this season will feel more “real” with a full 162-game slate and fans in the stands. He also felt more comfortable this spring, posting a 2.65 ERA across 17 innings and four starts.

“I felt more comfortable coming in here, especially from what I learned last year,” Singer said. “Knew what I had to work on and felt like I did a lot of things that I needed to work on. It felt completely different, and it felt a lot better, knowing that we’re starting in April and we’re playing 162.”

That’s a wrap

The Royals are well aware that Spring Training records and stat lines go away when they head north, but it’s still worth noting their 16-8-4 record is at the top of the Cactus League standings. They finished in walk-off fashion Monday when infielder Gabriel Cancel roped a double in the bottom of the ninth to score outfielder Bubba Starling.

“Winning’s a habit,” Matheny said. “From Day One, we want to win. I love getting to the end of those games and knowing somebody is going to do something big.”

Matheny’s goals for Spring Training were to get his regulars ready, keep everyone healthy and figure out the 26-man roster. The latter goal is still being worked out, with the final few spots still up for grabs. But he can’t ignore the winning nature that his players seemed to embrace this spring and wants to see it carry over into the season.

“I wanted to see guys come out and compete, and they competed,” Matheny said. “And it was from the big boys at the beginning to the young guys at the end, they took a lot of pride in doing the little things right. They took correction really well. They took praise really well. All of those things are good fundamental boxes to check for our club before we head into the real thing.”

Even the regulars, who don’t play the full nine innings in spring, take notice of game results after they’ve left the game.

“I know Spring Training wins don’t matter, but we thought it was important to do everything we can to win games, have good at-bats, get ourselves ready, so when the season starts, we can hit the ground running and get off to a good start,” third baseman Hunter Dozier said. “Everyone in that clubhouse is really excited to get that season going. We feel like we have a lineup, pitching staff, bullpen that can compete with anyone in baseball.

“Now we just got to go and prove it.”

Royals add Alberto to 40-man

The Royals announced that they selected Hanser Alberto to the 40-man roster on Monday night. The infielder will fill a utilityman role for the Royals this season, slotting in at second base, shortstop and third base when needed -- he has also taken reps at first base and the outfield. Alberto mashes left-handed pitching, so he also could be used in a platoon split if an everyday player struggles at some point during the year.

Alberto hit .355 with an .831 OPS across 15 games (34 plate appearances) this spring after signing a Minor League deal with the Royals in February.

The Royals’ 40-man roster is full, but left-hander Daniel Tillo (elbow injury) will likely be put on the 60-day injured list to open up a spot if needed.

Around the horn

• Dozier launched his fifth home run of the spring Monday, moving into a tie with Jorge Soler and Ryan O’Hearn -- who also hit his fifth on Monday -- for the Royals' lead this spring. Dozier said he’s ready for those home runs to start counting.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “Ready to get the season going.”

• Outfielder Kyle Isbel, who’s in the running for a starting spot, left Monday’s game with the regulars after two plate appearances -- a sign of what might come when the Royals set their roster. Isbel has impressed everyone this spring, especially the teammates he’s been playing around lately.

“He’s a gamer,” Dozier said. “He reminds me a lot of [left fielder Alex Gordon]. He plays hard, he’s quiet, really good hitter, takes really good at-bats. Plays really good defense, he’s a great guy. He’s like a little Gordo running around. He’s a player that’s going to help us out a lot and will be fun to watch.”