SPRINGDALE, AR - The Kansas City Royals begin their 2013 Cactus League schedule this afternoon against the Texas Rangers in Surprise, AZ. Former Natural Will Smith is the starter for the Royals as manager Ned Yost has decided to hold the top of his rotation until next week. Smith, a member of the 2011 Naturals, is in a multiple pitcher battle for the final spot in the starting rotation. According to published reports, Smith is scheduled to pitch the first two innings and be followed by a quartet of former Naturals: Yordano Ventura, Justin Marks, Sugar Ray Marimon and Michael Mariot. Nate Adcock and Blaine Boyer were also scheduled to pitch in today's Spring Training lidlifter.
Friday's game is the first of 36 scheduled Spring Training games for the Royals. Of the 36 games, the Royals will play the Rangers and American League Central rival Cleveland Indians four times, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers three times and twice against the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Royals held two intrasquad scrimmages on Tuesday and Wednesday with former Naturals having impressive performances. In Tuesday's USA vs. World game, former Naturals catcher Salvador Perez hit a home run while 2012 Naturals Player of the Year Christian Colon had two singles and two RBI. Cheslor Cuthbert, the Royals No. 9 prospect, hit a two-run home run in the game. Cuthbert spent 2012 with Advanced-A Wilmington and could start the season with the Naturals. Former Naturals Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon each had a double for the US team.
After the teams played to a 5-5 draw on Tuesday, former Natural David Lough hit a home run to give the US team a 1-0 victory on Wednesday. Former Naturals Aaron Crow and Louis Coleman each pitched perfect innings in the five-inning affair, while 2012 Natural Sharlon Schoop hit a double.
Transactions: The Royals signed 12 players to major league contracts for the 2013 season on Wednesday, avoiding arbitration. Among those signed were former Naturals Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, John Lamb, David Lough, Mike Moustaskas and Will Smith. Recently acquired Elliot Johnson and relief pitcher Tim Collins also signed contracts.
Cain Suffers Mild Injury: Former Naturals outfielder Lorenzo Cain was held out of batting practice this week due to a strained hand and will miss today's opening game.
TV Time: Six Royals games will be televised this spring. MLB Network will have tape-delayed coverage of the March 16th (Cubs), 18th (Rangers), 24th (White Sox) and 27th (Cubs) games as well as live coverage on March 22nd (Angels). FOX Sports Kansas City will air Royals home games live on March 25th (Dodgers) and 27th (Cubs)
The Week Ahead
Rangers at Royals (Surprise, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Royals at Rangers (Surprise, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Diamondbacks at Royals (Surprise, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Royals at Indians (Goodyear, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Brewers at Royals (Surprise, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Royals at Padres (Peoria, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Reds at Royals (Surprise, AZ) 2:05 p.m.
Check nwanaturals.com for our Spring Training Report, where we'll continue to follow Royals' minor leaguers in spring training as well as cover other baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans. Opening Day for the 2013 All Star Season is Thursday, April 4 against the Midland Rockhounds.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.