We are inching ever closer to Opening Day.  Close enough to be teased by baseball on television last night.

Last night, Jason Vargas pitched well.  Louis Coleman and Franklin Morales did not, bringing a little urgency to the ‘exactly how close is Luke Hochevar to being ready?’ equation. It’s spring training, so it is possible that nothing that happened last night means anything.

We know the rotation now, which came with no surprises.  Ventura gets the nod Opening Day, followed by Duffy, Volquez, Vargas and Guthrie. The April schedule offers little in the way of opportunities to shorten the rotation and, given Ventura’s young age, I doubt the Royals would go out of their way to get him extra starts.  They could start Ventura three times in the first nine games and do so on regular rest.  It would not buy the team a roster spot as they would need a fifth starter (Guthrie) on the first weekend of the season no matter what.  After having the first two Tuesdays of the season off, the Royals play nineteen games without an off-day, so there is not a ton of opportunity to hide the back of the rotation even if Yost and Moore actually were to consider it.

Hey, if it was me, I would love to have Ventura AND Duffy each start three times before Jeremy Guthrie got his second start of the year, but that is an aggressive approach with young arms.  Besides, I have no sense that Ned Yost believes the back of his starting rotation needs protection.  Some years, the April schedule almost begs you to get your number one and two starters extra turns, but not this year.

We have also been teased with a ‘likely’ batting order:  Escobar, Gordon, Cain, Hosmer, Morales, Rios, Perez, Moustakas, Infante. I cannot say I hate it, even if it relies heavily on the BABIP fairy sprinkling truckloads of dust on Escobar. Let’s face it, any order you come up relies on Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios to be better (way better) than last year and hopes that Lorenzo Cain and/or Eric Hosmer parlay their post-season success into regular season production.  Plenty of ‘ifs’ and ‘hope so’ when it comes to any batting order Yost writes down.

Early prediction:  Escobar attempts to bunt for a hit on the first pitch of the season.

This team, now that they seemed determined to play a less than healthy Infante at second and have Gordon back in action, is now down to choosing the last guy on the bench and two mop-up relievers (make a note, NED:  MOP…UP…, not a need a lefty pitching with two on and one out in the 7th). Color me less than motivated this morning. Mark me down as ready for April 6th.