SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The member of the Royals having the best camp of anyone is virtually unknown: super-utility man Humberto Arteaga.
Well, Arteaga isn’t unknown to the coaching staff. Manager Ned Yost raves about Arteaga, whom he likens to Whit Merrifield.
Arteaga, 25, had one hit and one RBI in the Royals’ 5-4 loss to the Rangers on Thursday, and his .533 spring average leads the team. He also has flashed numerous defensive gems from every position on the infield except first base.
“Last year it was arguable that Arteaga had the best spring of anyone in camp,” Yost said. “And this year you can make the case he is having the best camp of anyone.
“There’s a lot of similarities with Arteaga to Whit. Solid, solid defender anywhere. Great situational hitter. I don’t think there’s been a time this spring where Arty hasn’t come through in situational hitting. Arty is a very interesting case.”
Though Arteaga isn’t on the 40-man roster and isn’t a candidate to crack the 25-man roster any time soon, Yost believes his day will come, much as it finally did for Merrifield.
“I don’t think it’s the [40-man] roster crunch now that it was with Whit a few years back,” Yost said. “It will take some juggling [to get Arteaga on the 40] because you've got other guys, too, who are trying to get on. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but you never know. Our board today might not be the same tomorrow. You never know.”
Junis working on changeup
Right-hander Jakob Junis, likely the Royals’ No. 2 starter, went 4 1/3 innings on Thursday against the Rangers and gave up five runs. He walked one and struck out four.
“I thought I threw some good pitches today,” Junis said. “I thought they hit some good pitches. The one I’d like back was the changeup to [Danny Santana, who hit a two-run homer]. It just kind of broke right over the middle of the plate, and he crushed it. But I’ve been trying to throw more changeups so when the regular season comes, I can use it in those situations.”
The Royals travel to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale for a 3:10 p.m. CT game against the Rockies. Right-hander Jorge Lopez is scheduled to start, followed by Kyle Zimmer, Zach Lovvorn, Jason Adam and Chris Ellis.