Royals workout news and notes: Matheny says he’s considering using openers

Royals manager Mike Matheny says the team will consider using the 'opener' strategy during the shortened 2020 season.
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The Kansas City Royals appear to be taking a “two on, one off” approach as they ramp up toward the 60-game 2020 season, and after playing intrasquad games on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was the “off” day, so to speak.

The team held a series of live batting practice sessions but did not conduct an intrasquad game as the staff looks to avoid overworking players who are returning after three-and-a-half months without organized baseball activities.

Right-handers Chance Adams, Jorge López and Brady Singer were among the pitchers to throw live BP on Sunday:

Mike Matheny expressed some uncertainty about what the Royals’ catching situation might look like on Opening Day now that all three backstops on the 40-man roster are on the injured list. Salvador Pérez and Cam Gallagher have confirmed that they tested positive for COVID-19, while Meibrys Viloria is out with an undisclosed ailment.

The manager mentioned Nick Dini and Oscar Hernández, two catchers with major league experience, as candidates while stating that there is an “urgency to have some other guys ready to go.”

Matheny did praise 21-year-old MJ Melendez, the Royals’ 2017 second-rounder and the No. 13 prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline, saying that he “has done a fantastic job” in summer camp and that the staff is “excited about his development.” Matheny raved about Melendez’s defensive progression, saying that “he’s improving in all aspects behind the plate,” while also speaking highly of his offensive potential, stating that “he’s going to hit, too” and that “the swing is going to play.”

With Brad Keller out after testing positive for COVID-19 and Kansas City having just three healthy, well established starters — Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis and Mike Montgomery — Matheny said the Royals may use some creative approaches to pitching staff management. With every pitcher at a different stage of readiness following the league’s extended shutdown, Matheny said he’ll need “buy-in” from the staff as it pertains to embracing non-traditional roles

“I think it’s all going to be timed different for each individual team, each individual pitcher,” he said. “The best way for us to guard against that is to have a number of guys being able to fill a number of innings and a number of roles.”

He also said he’s considering using openers on some days rather than traditional starters: “Yeah, I think you have to. ”

GM Dayton Moore told reporters the team plans to “be aggressive” with young players in 2020, saying that while the front office will make roster decisions with an eye toward preserving as much quality depth as possible, “the most talented players are going to play.”

Moore also said that the Royals are hoping to play an exhibition game or two before the regular season begins: