Joseph bringing some serious heat in Royals camp
Left-hander looking to land a spot in Kansas City's bullpen for 2013 season
MESA, Ariz. -- Left-hander Donnie Joseph is one of those Spring Training long shots who catches fire early and doesn't want to be put out.
Joseph struck out the first seven batters he faced in the Cactus League and is still going strong. So far in seven games, with one inning in each, he's given up just one run (1.29 ERA) and three hits.
He joined the Royals with the reputation of having good stuff and marginal control or, as manager Ned Yost put it, the ability to pitch himself into trouble and then out of it.
"From day one, I've been working on mechanics and trying to eliminate walks and getting behind on the guys. I think that's something that's just helped me -- trying to get ahead and it limits putting myself in situations where I can get 2-0, 3-0 and walk a guy and give up a hit or something like that," Joseph said. "That's just kind of the mentality I have every time I got out there: Just get ahead of the hitter and hope I have the opportunity to get him out."
So far he's notched 12 strikeouts and, ta-da, zero walks. The only run came on a solo homer by the Giants' Brandon Belt.
"Ever since I've been in pro, what was kind of on me was I have a tendency to walk guys. So that's one thing I've really tried to concentrate and focus on this spring is eliminate these walks and get the inning over as quickly as possible. Three up, three down is always the goal," he said.
Joseph, 25. came to the Royals last July 21 with pitcher J.C. Sulbaran from the Reds in exchange for reliever Jonathan Broxton. After joining Triple-A Omaha, he relieved in 11 games with 19 strikeouts but with 21 hits and 13 walks in 17 1/3 innings.
He needed to change something for better command.
"Just trying to get my arm out quicker. That was the biggest thing; I had a tendency of letting my arm drag so this spring, from day one, we're trying to quicken up my arm and get my arm out front so it can allow me to throw strikes, locate better and get ahead of the hitters," he said. "It's really the only thing we've done mechanically to change and I think it's made a huge difference with how I'm pitching."
Yost certainly noticed.
"He came in throwing strikes," the skipper said.
There are only a couple of possible open spots in the Royals' bullpen and one might be for a situational left-hander. Yost, though, thinks Joseph could be more than that.
"He's tough on righties, too. He's got that back-foot slider, he's got some deception in his delivery, throws strikes," Yost said.
Joseph, the Royals' seventh-ranked prospect by MLB.com, is a long shot to make the club but his Arizona showing has him a lot closer.
"Obviously it's a dream come true to even be in this locker room or hopefully make the team," he said. "But I don't worry about that. I just look and see when I pitch next and I try to focus on that day alone. The thing that's helped me is right after I pitch, that day I tell myself that outing is over with whether I give up a run or not. Move on the next one and focus on my next outing."
That's scheduled for Monday night against the Rangers.
Chen looking at bright side after rough outing
MESA, Ariz. -- Could Royals left-hander Bruce Chen find a positive from an outing in which he surrendered five home runs in five innings? Yes, he could.
"This is the best I've felt arm-wise and body-wise in Spring Training," Chen said. "Obviously the results weren't there. I made some adjustments after the first inning and I'll keep working towards that. I felt like a made some good pitches, I felt like I made some bad pitches. Overall, I need to improve, I need to make sure I make better pitches, but I'm very happy with the way my arm is feeling."
Chen was tagged for three home runs, including a leadoff shot by ex-Royal David DeJesus, and a double in the Cubs' four-run first inning. He gave up seven runs, nine hits and walked one in Saturday's 8-3 loss.
He got a 92-pitch workout including 59 strikes.
"I felt I made much better pitches after the first inning," Chen said. "If you take that first inning away, I actually pitched much better. But if you add the first inning, I pitched horrible."
This was Chen's first start since the Royals shifted Luke Hochevar into the bullpen and out of competition with Chen for the No. 5 rotation spot. Now, Luis Mendoza is considered his primary competitor although Will Smith and Yordano Ventura haven't been ruled out either.
"He was lacking arm speed early, like he did on occasion last year," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He left some balls up, and they ended up hitting some homers off him. For me, the positive was that he got better as the game went on in terms of getting his arm speed back and being more aggressive with his pitches."
This is the second straight game in which Chen has been cuffed around. Last Sunday, the Angels touched him for five runs, including two homers, in 3 2/3 innings.
"My last outing I was feeling a little tired, but this one I felt really good," he said. "I want to see how I bounce back after four or five days. I want to see where my arm is, but today, stamina-wise, was good."
Yost was asked if the back-to-back thumpings would have an impact on the selection of the fifth starter.
"Well, of course, it does," Yost said. "We're in competition for a spot and we're getting down to the time where we're going to have to make a decision. But, for Bruce and Mendy, they've got proven track records we can fall back on which improves the process, but it was just a bit of a rough day for Bruce today."
Hosmer, Collins set to resume Cactus action
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Eric Hosmer and left-handed reliever Tim Collins are expected to get right back into action with the Royals after Team USA was eliminated in the World Baseball Classic.
Hosmer could be in the lineup on Sunday against the White Sox, while Collins is listed to pitch on Monday night against the Rangers.
In six games, Hosmer was 5-for-25 (.200) with one run scored, a double and five RBIs. Collins pitched in two games for a total of one scoreless inning, giving up two hits and two walks with one strikeout.
Four Royals will be in the final round -- second baseman Irving Falu with Puerto Rico and third baseman Miguel Tejada and pitchers Kelvin Herrera and Atahualpa Severino with the Dominican Republic.
Davis, Perez fond of each other's Minors work
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Wade Davis and catcher Salvador Perez were busy exchanging compliments after their collaboration in a Class A Minor League game on Friday.
"Davis was throwing really good -- ooooffff!" Perez said. "Really, really good. One guy hit the ball good, that was it."
Davis, coming off some shoulder soreness, threw three scoreless innings, but raved about a home run that Perez hit on a practice field.
"I think that hasn't quite landed yet, 700 or 800 feet," Davis said. "I think it one-hopped the hotel out there. It was a tank, he's a big boy."
Perez, smiling, insisted he didn't know.
"I didn't see the ball," he said.
Moscoso accepts waiver claim by Toronto
MESA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso has accepted the unconditional waiver claim by the Toronto Blue Jays, the Royals announced on Saturday.
Moscoso, 29, was dropped by the Royals last Wednesday. He could have rejected the claim and become a free agent.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.