Robert Ford came to 610 Sports Radio in 2009 as the station’s “Royals Insider.” He currently serves as the pre and post game show host for Royals Broadcasts on 610. The Syracuse graduate has been around professional baseball as a reporter and broadcaster for over a decade.
Royals Spring Training Report for Mon, 3/5
by Robert Ford,posted Mar 5 2012 6:45PM
One of the difficult things about spring training, especially early in spring training, is determining the significance of what you’re seeing. If someone struggles, should there be concern? On the flip side, if someone performs well, should we be impressed? Generally speaking, those who enter camp knowing their jobs are secure have more leeway for poor performances; after all, they know they have a job sewn up, so they can focus on specific things and take their time getting ready, as long as they aren’t coasting or going through the motions. However, when someone is trying to win a job or show he belongs, his early performances are much more meaningful; a strong showing early increases that player’s chances of getting a longer look.
So, I’m not too concerned about Bruce Chen’s poor outing today vs. the Rangers. The lefty was scheduled to pitch two innings, but finished an out shy of that. He also allowed eight men to come to the plate in a three-run first (one of those runs was unearned thanks to Johnny Giavotella’s throwing error). Five of the seven hits Chen allowed were hit to the opposite field or up the middle and four of those five opposite field/up the middle hits came on inside pitches, which tells me Chen’s command wasn’t as good as it usually is. A harder thrower can get away with missing a little on pitches inside but, when you don’t throw hard, your margin for error on the inner half is much smaller and requires refined command. Chen wasn’t very happy with today’s outing, but there’s no reason to be alarmed at this point.
On the flip side, it was good to see Mike Montgomery bounce back in his second inning of work after a rocky first inning. Montgomery, one of several candidates for the last two spots in the rotation, walked the leadoff man and gave up three hits and a run in the fourth, but recorded a strikeout and didn’t allow a ball out of the infield during a 1-2-3 fifth. The difference between the two innings for Montgomery was command, particularly of his secondary stuff. In the fourth, Montgomery couldn’t throw his off-speed pitches for strikes, allowing the Rangers to sit on his fastball. But, in the fifth, Montgomery’s command was much better, as he threw perhaps his best breaking ball of the day to strike out David Murphy swinging.
The most impressive Royals plate appearance of the day came from shortstop Alcides Escobar. Facing Rangers sidearming lefty Mitch Stetter, Escobar worked the count full and fouled off several pitches before tripling off the top of the centerfield fence. Stetter didn’t really have anything to put Escobar away with and didn’t throw anything effective inside to the righthanded hitter and, to his credit, Escobar battled until he got a pitch he could really drive. Through two spring games, Escobar seems to be sticking with the approach that proved to be so successful for him last year: keeping his hands back and not trying to do too much, especially on pitches away. Escobar has quick wrists and a surprising amount of power, but gets himself in trouble when he looks to pull everything, as he did early last season. Also, when Escobar looks to pull everything, he fouls off quite a few hittable pitches. Even before camp began, I’ve felt Escobar is poised for a big year; we know what he can do defensively and he seems to have turned the corner offensively. He should do well, especially in this lineup.