After Thursday rainout, Royals head home needing successful homestand
Though Yordano Ventura’s scheduled 2014 debut was washed out Thursday in Detroit, the Royals will not simply push their rotation back one spot and insert Ventura as the starter for Friday’s home opener, tempting as that might be.
Royals skipper Ned Yost said Jeremy Guthrie will remain the starter for the home opener against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
"I’ve had the rotation set up for Jeremy Guthrie starting (home opener) since first day of spring training," Yost told The Kansas City Star. "I’m not deviating from that.
"I wanted a veteran to start the home opener."
Ventura will be pushed back all the way to Tuesday against Tampa Bay, though Yost indicated Ventura likely is a candidate for some bullpen duty to stay sharp. Bruce Chen will keep his scheduled start for Saturday, and James Shields will go Sunday.
Thus, it will be up to the veteran Guthrie to help the Royals break into the win column in 2014 — though, to be fair, pitching hasn’t exactly been the issue.
Much like last season, the Royals’ bats, after a torrid spring training, immediately have cooled when it counts. The Royals, 11th in the league in scoring last season, have pushed across just four runs in two games.
The Royals have just four extra-base hits, all doubles, and three of those have been by Salvador Perez. Also of some concern is that the Royals are just 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position. That was a major issue in 2013.
"We’re just not swinging the bats well, outside of Sal," Yost said.
While it is ridiculously early and wrong to make any judgments, the Royals obviously don’t want to dig themselves a hole in April. After last year’s first winning season in 10 years, there is pressure on the Royals to top that achievement with a playoff appearance. Stumbling out of the gates will only add external pressure.
Last year, the Royals dropped their first two games on the road, then proceeded to win six of their next seven games. They finished April at 14-10.
This year’s Royals would take that start in a heartbeat.
"The main thing is to play well and hang around in April," Billy Butler said during spring training. "After that you get a feel for the rest of the season. You just don’t want any really bad months, like we had last May.
"If we avoid that, we’ll be fine."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.