Notes: Matheny talks Cardinals reunion, rotation

July 8th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- It wasn’t long after Royals manager Mike Matheny took his new job in Kansas City that he realized there eventually would be a return trip to St. Louis, short season or not.

The Royals-Cardinals rivalry is played every year, and 2020 is no exception as they will play each other six times.

But on Aug. 24, Matheny and the Royals will head to St. Louis for a three-game series, his first trip there in a baseball uniform since being dismissed by the Cardinals in 2018.

Yet, Matheny doesn’t think there will be much emotion over that trip, other than he’ll get to see his St. Louis home -- he has one in the Kansas City area as well.

“The truth is I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it,” Matheny said. “I’ll get a chance to see my family because they’re not going to be coming [to Kansas City].”

But despite the fact that Matheny’s time in St. Louis -- he managed the Cardinals to a National League pennant in 2013 and won 100 games two years later -- ended in a messy fashion, he believes it will be just another series in August.

“I’ve moved on,” he said. “This is my new [baseball] home. All I think about it is that [St. Louis] is going to be a pretty good team and we have to play them six times. We’re playing a team that has a chance to be pretty good.”

Besides, it still seems unlikely there will be any fans at any MLB ballparks come August.

“On a personal side, there’s not going to be any fans there,” he said, “so we just go there and play. And try to win some ballgames.”

Witt, Mondesi on same side

At one point during the Royals' first intrasquad game of Summer Camp on Tuesday, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. -- the Royals’ top Draft pick in 2019 -- was at third base, and Adalberto Mondesi was at shortstop, which had some observers thinking about what the future may hold for Witt.

“There are times where Mondi and Witt are going to be on the field at the same time,” Matheny said, “and Mondi is going to be the shortstop. We felt better putting Witt [at 3B] just for comfort, so he wouldn’t have to make the turns [at 2B].”

Witt, the team’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, singled off Tim Hill in the intrasquad game. Mondesi had two hits, both lined shots.

“It was really nice to see Mondi on the field, the life in his body, and just to see that sweet swing,” Matheny said.

Four-man rotation?

The Royals’ top four in the rotation -- Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis and Mike Montgomery -- are a lock. But what will the Royals do with the No. 5 spot?

Right-hander Brady Singer, the team’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was still in camp, vying for that spot back in March. And Singer could still be in line for it.

But there’s a chance the Royals may get creative with that No. 5 spot, utilizing an 11-man or 12-man bullpen and going with relievers in short stints to get through a game.

“That’s a question we’ve talked about collectively,” Matheny said. “I asked all of us not to make up our mind now. What looks best for our club now? We want to come out of the gate firing. So what is the best decision possible to do that?”

Reynolds, Viloria to IL

Catcher Meibrys Viloria and infielder Matt Reynolds were placed on the 10-day injured list last Saturday. They have been replaced on the 60-day camp roster by catchers Allan de San Miguel and Freddy Fermin, both non-roster players.