Notes: Bell wants to get right to work
Manager won't waste much time with speeches Thursday
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Manager Buddy Bell's game plan for Thursday's first full-squad workout of Spring Training calls for more action than talking."I'm not going to spend a lot of time on [talk]," Bell said. No Knute Rockne-type speech? "I tried that before and it never worked," he said with a smile. "I'll just go through some introductions, policies and things like that. They have heard me enough already. I'm sure they don't want to keep hearing the same things over and over again. "They know what's important to us and the organization and if they need to hear it again, we probably wouldn't want them here, anyway. My talk will be short and sweet." There will be 59 players decked out in Royal blue uniforms at the Surprise complex for the first of six days of workouts before the Cactus League season opens March 1 in Tempe against the Angels. Most of those players were early arrivals to camp. Veteran outfielder Reggie Sanders was the last position player to check in, walking into the clubhouse at about 8:15 a.m. MT on Wednesday. "It's quite unusual for everyone to be here [early]," Bell said. "That's a good sign. It doesn't necessarily indicate how everything is going to turn out, but it's good for us." The Royals begin camp trying to build a team that can end three consecutive seasons of at least 100 losses. While not expected to be the Tigers of 2006, the Royals figure to be much improved. "There are not a lot of [roster] spots open," Bell said, "but there are a lot of things we have to decide as far as the versatility and where they fit and where they are going to play. "There are a lot more decisions we have to make this spring, as opposed to last year. We have a lot more options." The overall depth in pitching and position players is significantly stronger than it was a year ago, and general manager Dayton Moore indicated Wednesday that further roster shuffling isn't likely for the time being.
"We've made a lot of moves since last July and this winter," he said. "We've got to evaluate where we are and what we need. We are committed to the young players we have, and they've got to play. Any move we'd make would have to be to upgrade. We'll find out how much depth we have and if it is quality depth, but it takes time to evaluate that."Hopefully, half the moves you make work," he added. "That would be great if they did. We don't know yet. We've just got to let the guys play." Thrill of a lifetime: Designated hitter Mike Sweeney spent 10 days of his offseason with a family vacation in Rome and it turned out to be a special journey.
"It the was highlight of my life," he said. "Growing up as an Irish Catholic, the second-oldest of eight kids, it always has been a dream to go to Rome. I was from a middle-class family and never thought I would have the means to do it."But the means met the ends last November when the deeply religious Sweeney took his wife and two children, along with his parents and in-laws. "It was awesome to get a chance to see the history of our church," he said. "Here we are, talking about this on Ash Wednesday, and I was able to see one of the nails that went through one of Christ's hands. "The highlight of the trip was getting blessed and kissed by Pope Benedict XVI." Positive first step: Right-hander Scott Elarton said his right arm felt just fine Wednesday, the day after a 25-pitch outing off the pitching mound. "I have to be smart and take it one step at a time and not rush anything," the veteran said. The Royals' Opening Day starter a year ago, Elarton is attempting to bounce back from labrum surgery last Aug. 1. "I talked to him this morning and he said he felt fine," Bell said. "I saw some things that have been written about when Scotty will be ready to pitch again, but we'll be as smart about this as we can. "Scotty could be a large part of our success this year and we want to take care of him. He can pitch for a few more years, and we don't want to expedite it to where he can't. We'll manage it as we go and see what happens." Elarton, 30, had a 4-9 record and 5.34 ERA last season. More signings: Eight more players with three or less years of MLB service time reached agreement on one-year contracts Wednesday, leaving 11 players on the 40-man roster still unsigned. The latest to sign are pitchers Ryan Braun, Danny Christensen, Neal Musser, Leo Nunez, Joel Peralta and Joakim Soria, catcher John Buck and infielder Justin Huber.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.