Surprise, Ariz. Many were called, but few will be chosen.
Manager Buddy Bell welcomed 26 pitchers and five catchers to the Kansas City Royals camp Saturday for the first official workout.
Bell said the biggest spring-training decisions would involve the rotation.
"No doubt about it," Bell said. "There's going to be a lot of competition for the rotation."
Royals starting pitchers compiled a 33-73 record with an American League-worst 6.00 earned-run average last year.
Bell said right-hander Scott Elarton, a free-agent addition who was 11-9 in 2005 for Cleveland, and left-hander Mark Redman, who was acquired in a trade and went 5-15 last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, were the leading candidates to start in the April 3 season opener against Detroit. Bell said Zack Greinke, who topped the American League with 17 losses last season, and Runelvys Hernandez, who led the staff with eight wins but with none after July 22, also could start in the opener.
Other rotation candidates include left-handers Jeremy Affeldt and J.P. Howell and right-handers Joe Mays, Denny Bautista, Mike Wood and Kyle Snyder. Bautista was the only pitcher not in camp Saturday, because of flight delays. He was expected to report today.
"He was not scheduled to throw today," Bell said. "If looking for a positive, that's the positive."
Bautista did not pitch after May 11 because of a sore shoulder, but Bell said he threw well in the winter Dominican Republic League and his shoulder was OK.
Affeldt began his career as a starter, but was used strictly as a reliever last year.
Bell said they had flexibility with Affeldt, Wood, Mays and Bautista to use them as starters or relievers.
"We are going to have to figure what is best for the team on where they are, whether that is in the rotation or whether it is in the bullpen," Bell said. "The first goal is obviously to get ready for the season, but just making the team is a priority. Everything works out for itself. If you start making too many decisions today, it is just a waste of time."
Bell said there "were no surprises" after the initial workout.
"I think it is important we get outside," Bell said. "It was efficient. It was pretty much what I expected. It was well organized."
Left-hander Bobby Madritsch, claimed by the Royals off waivers from Seattle, is coming off shoulder surgery and is unlikely to pitch before the All-Star break. Bell said the rest of the pitchers were healthy.
Catcher Paul Bako is coming off knee surgery, which limited him to 13 games last season.
"He's just a tad limited in some of the things he can do," Bell said.
The first full-squad workout is Friday, but several position players, including first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, shortstop Angel Berroa and outfielder Emil Brown, already have arrived and went through a voluntarily infield practice.