Inbox: Takeaways from the Royals' first series

April 1st, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- It wasn’t until early May when the Royals got their first series win of the 2018 season. This season, they accomplished that feat in March by taking two of three from the White Sox in their Opening Series.

The Royals talked all during Spring Training about the importance of getting off to a good start. So far, so good.

With that, let’s get right to this week’s Royals Inbox:

Answer: I thought the starting pitching was solid, even with Jorge Lopez’s hiccup late in his outing. The promise of speed and defense showed itself, and Kansas City manager Ned Yost said that's the tip of the iceberg. Is the bullpen shaky? Perhaps. But it’s very early, obviously. Ian Kennedy could emerge as a late-inning guy. Jake Diekman looked strong. Kyle Zimmer showed he could be a weapon. There are actually many positives that emerged from the series win over the White Sox.

Answer: Give the Chris Owings experiment some time. It has only been three games. He was terrific all spring and showed why the Royals were eager to sign him. He has Whit Merrifield-like versatility and is a very smart baserunner. He also made an incredible play at third base in the ninth inning Sunday, which shows you his defensive value (yes, that is important). Royals general manager Dayton Moore said several times in the offseason that Owings was highly-coveted by 20 or so teams, so there is obviously talent there. That talent will surface soon.

Answer: It was obvious to Royals fans last September that moving Alex Gordon to the No. 3 spot was beneficial. He posted an .807 OPS there with a .452 slugging percentage and he had 18 RBIs in 22 games. That will play. Already this year he has a .385 OBP with six runs scored. That will play, too.

Answer: Hey, anything is possible. But after all the trials and tribulations, just getting Zimmer to be a weapon in the bullpen is enough right now. Let’s go day to day.

Answer: This is a fair question. The Owings signing makes sense because the trend in baseball over the last two years is to have players who can play multiple positions. Owings is very good defensively (that is important to the Royals), he likely will show he is a superb baserunner (also important to the Royals) and a pesky hitter (again, important to the Royals). He had an incredible Spring Training (a 1.129 OPS in 19 games). The Lucas Duda signing is understandably a bit perplexing, given the Royals already have a left-handed-hitting first baseman in Ryan O’Hearn. But Duda is a good clubhouse presence and the coaching staff likes him. Let’s just see how it all plays out. Remember that the Royals will shift to 13 pitchers around April 10 or so, and a position player will have to go.

Answer: I get the tongue-in-cheek question here. But seriously, when I brought up the idea of Kennedy in the bullpen last fall, that thought didn’t escape me. As I mentioned in the fall, Kennedy could be a Jeff Montgomery-type of closer. And Monty agreed Sunday, telling me, “You just have to have faith in your fastball, whether it is 90 mph or 95 mph. Hitters know if you are scared.”

Answer: That’s an easy one. Ned told me late in camp that Whit would play more right field than previously anticipated.

Answer: Well, keep in mind that once the Royals go back to 13 pitchers (on April 10 or so), they will have to jettison a position player. Will that be designating Duda? Optioning Frank Schwindel? We’ll see.

Answer: Tough call. Left-hander Danny Duffy is still finishing up his throwing program after coming back from left shoulder tightness in early camp. He could be the No. 5 starter. But Yost also has mentioned Heath Fillmyer, who was sent to Triple-A Omaha, as a possibility.

Answer: They are paying Homer Bailey the Major League minimum. Why not take the chance that he could be good enough to be move at the Trade Deadline? It’s what small-market teams do.

Answer: After three games? Hunter Dozier smoked the ball the ball the last two months of 2018 -- posting a .467 slugging percentage over 21 games in August, and slugging .477 over the final 24 games of the season -- and he smoked the ball at the end of Spring Training. Let’s give him some time.