I’m certain you’ve seen this by now:

SI Cover

More cover love from Sports Illustrated. Pretty nice. Although I don’t think Royals PR is too thrilled.

Hey, any cover is a good cover, right? At any rate, it’s regional, which probably takes some of the luster off of the honor, although I suppose it’s necessary with the dwindling subscription and ad rates in magazine land. Things are tough all over. That’s why I choose to make my millions on the blog. (Nice touch adding Wichita State. I’m now officially on the fence as to whether I’ll purchase this.)

The other teams honored with regional covers were the Mariners, the Nationals, and the Indians. And from the looks of things, they have picked the Indians to win.

Clark has covered the various roster scenarios and with a little less than two weeks, it appears the remaining competition for spots comes down to Paulo Orlando or Moises Sierra on the bench (although Clark mentions Ryan Jackson or Ryan Roberts as options) and a four man competition for the bullpen between Luke Hochevar, Louis Coleman, Bryan Flynn, and Ryan Madson.

My money is on Coleman going north with the club.

The spot is Hochevar’s if he’s ready to start the season. I think he’s close, but the team is going to be very careful, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he opens the year on the DL and stays behind in extended spring training. Flynn is on the 40-man roster, but has options remaining. Madson is in camp as a non-roster invitee. That leaves Coleman who has exhausted his options. That means if the Royals decide to sent him to the minors at any time this year, they will first have to pass him through waivers. Plenty can happen in the next 10 days and there will likely be plenty of teams looking for relief help. With rosters in flux ahead of Opening Day, if the Royals truly want to keep Coleman, they would risk losing him on a waiver claim. If the Royals stash Hochevar on the DL and keep Coleman to start the season, then expose him to waivers once Hochevar is ready to return, the likelihood of him going unclaimed probably increases. Of course, that’s with the thinking the Royals would like to keep Coleman, which I’m certain they do, given how he’s thrown this spring.

The good news in all of this is it looks like the Royals are going with the seven-man bullpen. “Good” news is relative since they were openly flirting with using eight relievers.

— The Royals will play in three home openers this year. They open at home against the White Sox, travel to Anaheim where they are the Angels opponent in their home opener, and from there they go to Minnesota for the Twins Opening Day.

— Welcome back Uncle Hud as Fox Sports Kansas City broadcasts their first Royals game of the year tonight. First pitch against the White Sox is at 8. It’s been far too long.