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Matheny 'couldn't be more excited' for season

Royals set to report to Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday
@FlannyMLB
June 26, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Mike Matheny’s first season as Kansas City’s skipper was stopped before it started because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now that summer camp is set to open, Matheny can’t wait. “Just couldn’t be more excited to have an actual date in front of us where we

KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Mike Matheny’s first season as Kansas City’s skipper was stopped before it started because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that summer camp is set to open, Matheny can’t wait.

“Just couldn’t be more excited to have an actual date in front of us where we can get back to work,” Matheny said in a Zoom call Friday. “We had a call with the players today and told them there will be a lot of oddness to this season, but let’s try to use this to our advantage.”

Royals FAQ: Details on the upcoming season

Players are expected to report on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium where they will be tested for the coronavirus. Royals medical officials will allow 24-48 hours for results to be accumulated, and the first actual workout is scheduled for next Friday.

“We’re going to have live batting practices on that very first day,” Matheny said. “We’re going to get ready quickly.”

On Sunday, the Royals’ 60-man pool will be set, which will be a mix of 40-man roster players and many of the non-roster invitees from Spring Training.

FAQ: Roster and transaction rules for 2020

“Sixty is a pretty big number,” Matheny said. “We had more than that going into the first Spring Training. We’re going to go with guys on that 60 who can help us in 2020. And we want to save room for some prospects -- you guys who were with us in Spring Training know how much I liked having those prospects around.”

Once camp opens, the focus eventually will be selecting the 30-man roster to open the season July 23 or July 24. The Royals had numerous players on the bubble when the limit was 26 when camp was suspended, such as outfielders Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips, and pitchers Jesse Hahn and Randy Rosario, all of whom are out of options.

Matheny obviously wouldn’t reveal how he’ll fill the four extra spots, but he indicated the Royals, who were limited to 13 pitchers for the 26-man roster, will have no limitations on the number of arms this time around.

But Matheny said it would be unlikely that the Royals would use all four spots on pitching.

“Seventeen would be a pretty big number to have,” Matheny said. “I think every team is going to take advantage of that 30-man, and I think you’ll see pitching-heavy rosters. I’ve just been so impressed with what our pitchers have done during this delay to the season. [Pitching coach] Cal Eldred and [bullpen coach] Larry Carter have put together a really good template for the pitchers to follow. And the guys bought in, and they have really kept building themselves up.

“The overall feel from the guys was very positive. They sent us videos to see what ways they could improve and really try to utilize this time. I couldn’t have been any more proud. I think our guys are going to show up ready to go. We’re going to have live batting practices, and we’ll have multiple ups-and-downs for the pitchers.

“I believe we’re going to be much further ahead than we would have been for a normal Spring Training.”

As has been reported by MLB.com previously, players such as Salvador Perez, who was coming off Tommy John surgery in 2019, and Adalberto Mondesi, who had left shoulder surgery in the fall, should be completely healthy for this summer camp. There had been some question previously whether Mondesi would have been ready for March’s Opening Day.

“I think those two guys benefited the most from the extra time,” Matheny said. “We were probably going to have to taper Salvy’s workload before, and now that’s not a question. He’s in even better shape than he was before at Spring Training. We’ve had quite a bit of video on Mondi, and he looks just as good.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.