KANSAS CITY -- The one thing Royals manager Mike Matheny and his staff, along with the front office, have had plenty of time to contemplate lately is what an expanded roster might look like whenever baseball resumes.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding expanding rosters from 26 to 28 or 29, perhaps even more.
General manager Dayton Moore and Matheny agree that no matter what the expanded number is, pitching would take priority with those spots because of a condensed season, and possibly a condensed Spring Training.
“I think we’d definitely go heavy on pitchers,” Matheny said by phone. “If it was 28, we’d go two pitchers. It all depends on how we condense the season, how much time we have to get ready for a season.”
Moore agreed, saying, “When we left camp, we were still at that point that we had potential 40-man decisions to make. We have Trevor Rosenthal on it now, but not Greg Holland or someone like Tyler Zuber, who pitched really well in spring. So there were still bullpen decisions and 40-man decisions to make.
“And we’ll have to make those at some point.”
When the Royals left camp last month, the bullpen seemingly had seven spots either locked up or close to it: closer Ian Kennedy, Tim Hill, Scott Barlow, Rosenthal, Holland, Jorge Lopez and Glenn Sparkman.
The Royals were going to carry 13 pitchers, so along with starters Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis and Mike Montgomery, that had left two spots likely among Jesse Hahn and Randy Rosario (both out of options), Rule 5 pick Stephen Woods Jr., Josh Staumont, Richard Lovelady and Zuber.
Staumont, whose fastball hit 102 mph during the Cactus League, didn’t give up a run during six outings and struck out 10. Rosario had a 1.42 ERA in six outings.
An expanded roster certainly would boost the chances of Zuber, a non-roster invitee who had a 1.50 ERA over five outings while striking out eight, and Lovelady, who didn’t allow a run or a walk in five outings.
“When we left camp we hadn’t ruled anyone of those out,” Matheny said.
Matheny said he has been in contact with most of his players, although he said it has been challenging to connect with shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who returned to the Dominican Republic last month. Mondesi did not play in a Cactus League game while still rehabbing from shoulder surgery last fall.
“But I think this pause has helped him and Salvy [Perez] the most,” Matheny said. “Mondi was the guy I was most concerned about as we were approaching Opening Day. But all reports are he’s doing great right now, as is Salvy.”
Added Moore, “We felt comfortable with Salvy’s situation, so we didn’t have to carry another catcher. But with Mondi, one of the scenarios was possibly having to carry an extra infielder.”
How much time is needed?
Matheny took time Tuesday to partake in a Zoom call with reporters. He didn’t want to speculate on the different scenarios regarding an abbreviated Spring Training, but said ideally he’d like to have three weeks to get his team prepared for a restart.
“But we’ll do whatever it takes in whatever time frame we’re given,” Matheny said. “I’ve been in touch with our players and I’ve been amazed at how well our pitchers are doing right now. A lot of them are throwing full bullpens whether it’s in the garage or whatever. The starters are throwing every fifth day, the bullpen guys are throwing every other day.”