HAINES CITY, FLA. There are only nine games left before the Kansas City Royals leave spring training camp, and team officials have some key decisions to make before reaching the opening-day roster of 25.
The team has to make nine cuts befre the April 2 opener in New York. The Royals have 36 players in camp but two pitchers, Jose Rosado and Orber Moreno, will begin the season on the disabled list. Both had surgery last year.
Manager Tony Muser plans to keep 11 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders and five outfielders. There are 16 healthy pitchers, three catchers, eight infielders and seven outfielders in camp.
Four starting pitchers Jeff Suppan, Blake Stein, Dan Reichert and Brian Meadows are set, along with two bullpen jobs, Roberto Hernandez and Doug Henry.
Whoever lands the final five spots will depend on the health of Mac Suzuki, another Royals pitcher who had shoulder surgery last year.
Suzuki is scheduled to throw a maximum of 60 pitches Saturday in a start against Atlanta, his third March appearance. If Suzuki is not up to 90 pitches before the season, he could go to the bullpen.
Muser said the Royals are looking at Chad Durbin and rookie Kris Wilson as the fifth starter if Suzuki is not in the early April rotation.
The Royals also are considering Durbin, who was 2-5 with an 8.21 ERA in 16 starts last season, as a long reliever.
"He's been a starter and he hasn't had much experience on pitching on successive days, but our minor league people tell me that he can do it, that his arm is resilient," Muser said. "We're going to need someone to do that."
Other candidates for right-handed relief jobs are Jose Santiago, Chris Fussell and Cory Bailey.
"Bailey is an interesting guy and Chad has had a real good spring," Muser said. "It makes your decisions tough, but that's the way it should be."
Santiago is out of minor league options and would have to clear waivers to be sent to Class AAA Omaha.
There's been a lot of interest in Jose (for a trade)," Muser said. "We can't lose a guy like that. I wouldn't say Jose is a shoo-in, but options are a fact of life. If a guy on the bubble is out of options, you take him."
Scott Mullen, who had shoulder surgery last October, and Tony Cogan, who has pitched only 21/3 innings above Class A, are candidates for the left-handed reliever.
"It's pretty much a dead-heat right now," Muser said between Mullen and Cogan. "We're trying to get Mullen's velocity up after the surgery."
Luis Ordaz and Wilson Delgado, both out of options, are competing for the final reserve infield spot.
Catchers Gregg Zaun, Hector Ortiz and A.J. Hinch are in camp, and one must go.