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 Sat, 2/25
by Robert Ford,posted Feb 25 2012 6:52PM
Last year, when the Royals began full-squad workouts, manager Ned Yost made it clear there would be two major areas of focus: baserunning and defense; the Royals improved tremendously in both departments. This year, it’s a different story. While Yost has made it clear baserunning and defense are still a priority, that’s more about maintenance whereas last year was a complete overhaul. This year, Yost wants the focus of camp to be on the “mundane,” as he put it, the small details that the average fan may not notice, but can pay dividends over the course of a long season. In short, Yost wants to do everything he can to make sure the Royals don’t beat themselves. It’s a philosophy that makes sense, especially when you look at the other small- to mid-market teams that have had success; the Twins (excluding last year) and Rays of late and the A’s of the early 2000s excelled at doing the little things well as a way to expand their thin margin for error.
It’s very rare for position players to see live pitching on the first day of camp and, if they do, they’re usually told what pitch is coming. Today in Royals camp however, it was full bore. Position players saw live pitching and didn’t know what pitch was being thrown, essentially making it a game situation. Afterward, Yost said the live batting practice was more for the pitchers than the hitters; he wanted his pitchers to see how Major League hitters reacted to their stuff.
With the Royals starting today’s workout later than usual, I got a chance to go to the Rangers side of the Surprise complex and watch Yu Darvish, the Japanese pitching phenom Texas paid nearly $108 million to get. One didn’t have to watch Darvish for long to understand why a team would make such a significant investment in him. He seems to have everything scouts look for in a pitcher: size (he’s 6’5”), a balanced delivery with no wasted motion or effort, velocity, command of three pitches (I don’t think I saw him throw one pitch above the knees) and the ability to change speeds (his changeup was excellent, with good downward movement away from lefties). Of course, I wasn’t the only one watching Darvish; between the fans and the media, there were probably upwards of 200 people watching his bullpen and live BP sessions. I’m looking forward to seeing Darvish in games, but you don’t need to be much of a scout to know that he’s special.