SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For a two-year span in 2014-15, right-hander Trevor Rosenthal was the most dominant closer in the National League, accumulating 93 saves for the Cardinals and then-manager Mike Matheny during that time. Rosenthal also posted a glittering 2.10 ERA in 2015.
In the American League, right-hander Greg Holland was just as deadly in the closer’s role with the Royals, posting 47 saves in 2013 with a 1.21 ERA, and 46 saves in '14 with a 1.44 ERA.
Now, both Rosenthal and Holland are vying to make the Royals’ bullpen in 2020.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago when they were dominant, does it?” Matheny said Friday.
Rosenthal, a native of Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Holland signed Minor League deals with the Royals this offseason with Spring Training invitations. There’s a decent chance both will make the roster.
Rosenthal, who had a 13.50 ERA for Washington and Detroit in 2019 after rehabbing in '18 from Tommy John surgery, spoke for the first time publicly Friday about signing with the Royals. Here are some highlights:
How did this signing with the Royals come about?
I was just interested to see who would be interested after last season. Surprisingly, there were a lot of teams interested in me coming aboard. But sifting through the options, Kansas City really stood out. The more I asked friends and peers about the organization and about their experiences here, I just heard such great things. That just fit in with my personality. The cherry on top was Matheny coming over, someone I’ve very familiar with. All those things combined made the decision easy. This is a team I grew up watching. It’s a cool thing.
How was last year for you coming off a year of rehab from Tommy John surgery?
Initially, everything was going really well. But coming into Spring Training last year, the game was going much faster than I remembered. The volume and repetitions on a day-to-day basis was a little more than I was used to, especially from the year before when I was doing everything at my own pace. I wound up having some struggles and things went a little sideways at times, but I was able to finish the season, and I think I finished strong. Luckily, I was able to impress enough people to get offers.
Do you feel you have fewer question marks this spring about yourself as opposed to last spring when you were just coming off surgery?
I just feel more confident coming in here, knowing who I am and what I can do.
What was it like for your family knowing you would be a Royal?
They were super excited. When the offseason started, they were pretty excited knowing there was a chance I’d be here. And it will be a cool experience if I get a chance to pitch for this team. My parents and my younger brother still live in Kansas City.
Where did the struggles come from last year, more mechanical or mental?
I think it was a combination of all those things. The mental side started to escalate, too. But finishing strong was important to me.
What kind of messages has Matheny given you this spring?
He is just excited, too. It’s not just me, but there’s an excitement level for him for everyone. He has high expectations. We’re all trying to feed off that and help the guy next to us.
Did he influence you in terms of signing with the Royals?
We had a conversation before he even had the manager’s job. He asked me what my interest was in being in Kansas City. He was definitely involved. But once he got the job and I watched his press conference, and I heard him talk about his plans, it was kind of a no-brainer at that point.
You know him better than anyone in this clubhouse. What’s he like as a manager and do you think he learned from any perceived mistakes in St. Louis?
No doubt. He’s a humble human being. He knows he’s not perfect. I can’t point out any (specific) mistakes he was making in St. Louis. He’s way smarter than I am. But I know it’s going to be a group effort and he trusts the people around him. He’s just here to do whatever he can do for us. I know my teammates have asked me about him and I’ve said he would give the shirt off his back to help us. I trust that.