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 Thu, 3/8
by Robert Ford,posted Mar 8 2012 7:21PM
There’s no question Aaron Crow is a big piece of the puzzle for the Royals; the question is where. He was an All-Star reliever last year, but was drafted as a starting pitcher and, not surprisingly, the Royals are stretching Crow out this spring to see if he’ll be a viable option for their rotation in 2012. For Crow to have success as a starter, he needs to show an effective changeup to go along with his excellent sinking fastball and slider. In his first spring outing today against the Rockies in Scottsdale, Crow threw two changeups in his two-inning stint, including one that struck out Rockies centerfielder Dexter Fowler swinging, one of two strikeouts Crow recorded. Even if Crow does join the rotation, it probably won’t be for the entire season; the Royals are concerned about his workload after he threw just 62 innings last season. But, whether Crow works as a starter or a reliever, an effective changeup would be a useful weapon for him against lefties, who hit .311 off of Crow last year.
Yuniesky Betancourt drew his first spring training start at second base this afternoon and looked very good defensively; he started two double plays and was in the middle of another twin killing. Betancourt also ranged far up the middle to backhand a grounder hit by Jonathan Herrera, throwing him out at first. Even though he’s played just nine Major League games at second – all in his rookie year in 2005, with Seattle – there’s little concern about Betancourt’s ability to play there. While Betancourt’s range, especially to his left, is fringy, at best, for a shortstop, it profiles as above-average range at second base. Plus, at second, Betancourt will usually be playing between Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar, both of whom have above-average range at their positions (part of the reason I think the Royals aren’t too concerned about Johnny Giavotella’s below-average range at second). Before the Royals first acquired Betancourt, in a trade with Seattle during the 2009 season, there were published reports that the Mariners were considering moving Betancourt back to second base, the position he played for most of his career in Cuba.
Several people have asked me about catcher Max Ramirez, who homered today – his fourth longball in the last three games. After today’s game, manager Ned Yost said he knew Ramirez could hit, but he’s played better than Yost thought he would defensively. It’s going to be very difficult for Ramirez, a non-roster player, to unseat Brayan Peña as the backup catcher, but if Ramirez continues to play well, he’ll give the Royals another option at catcher as the year progresses, especially with Manuel Piña out for a while after undergoing knee surgery. Barring injury, Ramirez would have to keep hitting homers at his current Ruthian pace to have any shot at making the club out of spring training.