Yost has his batting order set, and most of Royals’ roster, too

Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer will be in the No. 4 and No. 3 spots, respectively, in the batting order.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals manager Ned Yost hasn’t given the team’s projected batting order a whole lot of thought this off-season.

That’s because it has already been decided.

"It kind of falls right into place," Yost said Friday during a media session at FanFest.

Yost plans to go with this order:

1.     Norichika Aoki, RF

2.     Omar Infante, 2B

3.     Eric Hosmer, 1B


4.     Billy Butler, DH

5.     Alex Gordon, LF

6.     Sal Perez, C

7.     Mike Moustakas, 3B

8.     Lorenzo Cain, CF

9.     Alcides Escobar, SS

And Yost sees no need to flip the order depending on whether the Royals are facing a left-hander or right-hander.

"It’s kind of a no-brainer," Yost said. "You got the right-left thing working. You got the guys you want up top. You got Billy, Alex and Sal as your big-time run producers.

"You got your table-setters. Of course, Hoz is going to be a big-time run producer, too. I don’t think you need to tinker with anything."

And unlike last year, Yost sees a lineup that won’t have any automatic outs.

"It’s going to be an offensive lineup that has a sequence from one through nine," he said. "You’re not going to have any dead spots. You’re not going to have a situation where you get something going and then bam, you run into a wall before you get something going again.

"At least I hope not. I don’t think so."

And actually, it’s not just the lineup that is set. The Royals will have very little competition for any open spots.

The rotation already has four spots secure with James Shields, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and newly re-signed Bruce Chen. Yost said Friday that Chen already has a spot virtually locked up.

"I think we’re going into it with Bruce probably having one of the five spots," he said. "My mindset is you can’t evaluate Bruce in spring training. He’s not one of those guys that can compete … he’s not a spring training pitcher.

"But once the bell rings, he’s been phenomenal for us."

That means the competition will come down to one spot in the rotation.

"In all reality, yeah," Yost said.

That competition will be among Luke Hochevar, Wade Davis, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Brad Penny and Kyle Zimmer.

But the organization is expected to go slow with Penny, who took a year off in 2013, and Zimmer, who was shut down last year with two weeks to go in the season because of a tired arm, and even Duffy, who is 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery.

"If Danny Duffy doesn’t make it in the rotation, what more does that do to our ‘pen?" Yost said. "That would give us another lefty in the bullpen. And we get through the All-Star break and then like last year with Bruce, bam, here comes a fresh, healthy Danny Duffy (into the rotation) if someone is slacking off a little bit."

While Hochevar and Davis have been starters in the past, Yost seems to be leaning toward having them both in the ‘pen again, though Hochevar greatly desires to work his way back into the rotation and has indicated he expects to win a starting job.

"When we put Hoch in the bullpen we went from a darn good bullpen to a phenomenal bullpen," Yost said. "And then when we put Davis in the bullpen we went to a lights-out bullpen. We have options. We can flip guys around. It’s all about what helps us win more ballgames."

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Penny already has indicated he would be willing to start the season at Triple-A Omaha.

Ventura has options left, but the Royals are hoping he learned enough from his September stint last season to make a strong run at the rotation.

"I’m going to stay open-minded about everything," Yost said.

And as one club official said recently: "It’s a 162-game season. Who we start with in the rotation probably won’t be who we end up with."

The Royals seem likely — barring a trade — to carry Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell as backup outfielders since both are out of options.

And if the Royals carry 12 pitchers — a near certainty — Danny Valencia, a corner infielder, will be the only backup infielder along with Butler, the primary designated hitter.

The Royals designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment Saturday, a move not surprising because he likely wasn’t going to be content with his backup role and because he was going to be a free agent after this season.

Valencia, Maxwell and Dyson are all under club control for several years.

The open roster competition during spring training likely will be only for a bullpen spot or two, and the backup catcher position between Ramon Hernandez and Brett Hayes.

"We saw this in Milwaukee and Atlanta where you come in your first year and there’s seven spots open (in spring training) for contention," Yost said. "And then the next year it’s five (spots open), and then you come the next year and there’s none."

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.