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Royals Announce 2023 Opening Day Roster

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By: Anne Rogers, Kansas City Royals

 

KANSAS CITY – First-year manager Matt Quatraro is experiencing everything this year for the first time – first time addressing his club, first time making a pitching decision, first time officially signing the lineup card as manager.

And his first time telling players they’re breaking camp with the team. That first was special.

“I kind of approached it as, regardless of whether it’s their first or 20th, it’s something to really cherish because you shouldn’t take it for granted,” Quatraro said.

Quatraro told Vinnie Pasqauntino and Michael Massey, both of whom made their first Opening Day roster, last week before the Royals played the Padres in Peoria, Ariz.

“Hey, you probably don’t have much doubt, but I wanted to congratulate you, you’re making the roster,’” Quatraro recalls saying to the infielders. “And Vinnie said, ‘Man, you scared the crap out of me calling me in here.’ I said, ‘You think I was going to release you? Send you down 30 seconds before the game starts?’ And later, we got out to the dugout, and Massey said, ‘I don’t know where you got that there was never doubt in my mind.’”

Even veteran hitters Matt Duffy and Franmil Reyes displayed emotion that stuck with Quatraro – Reyes (all 265 pounds of him) gave Quatraro a hug.

“That shows what kind of people they are,” Quatraro said. “They’re not taking it for granted.”

Kansas City has five players making their first Opening Day roster. Here is the full 26-man list:

Catcher (2): Salvador PerezMJ Melendez
No surprises here, as Perez begins his 12th year behind the plate as Kansas City’s veteran backstop. Melendez will be his backup but will primarily play right field on the days he doesn’t catch, as he was on Opening Day. When Perez isn’t catching, he’ll likely serve as the Royals’ designated hitter. In 2021 and ‘22, Perez was the DH in a career-high 40 games.

Pasquantino is the Royals’ everyday first baseman, and the club has committed to Witt as its everyday shortstop. Both will be in the lineup regularly, and both have a chance to turn into superstars with their bats. Massey and Dozier will get opportunities at second and third, respectively, after solid springs. Expect to see Dozier, who is looking to rewrite the script of his last two seasons, play the majority of third base, as well as some first base and right field this season. Lopez will move around the diamond, filling in at third, second and shortstop.

Duffy is one of three non-roster invitees (along with Franmil Reyes and Jackie Bradley Jr.) to break camp with the Royals. To make room on the 40-man, the Royals moved lefty Jake Brentz (Tommy John recovery) and outfielder Diego Hernandez (right shoulder dislocation) to the 60-day injured list and traded lefty Richard Lovelady to the Braves for cash considerations.

Outfielders (5): MJ Melendez, Kyle Isbel, Jackie Bradley Jr., Franmil Reyes, Edward Olivares
Melendez will be the Royals’ primary right fielder on days he doesn’t catch, while Isbel will get every opportunity to command center field in 2023. Kansas City brought Bradley into camp as outfield depth after Drew Waters (left oblique strain) went down with an injury, and the veteran center fielder greatly improves the Royals’ defense. Bradley will get some reps in center, but he could platoon in the corners with Olivares, a right-handed bat who showed he has improved his defense quite a bit during Spring Training. Reyes will DH most days, but the Royals are comfortable putting him in the corner outfield on occasion.

Utility (1): Nate Eaton
Eaton makes his first Opening Day roster as the Royals’ super utilityman, able to play anywhere in the field. His arm strength is a true weapon, and he’ll be used many times as a defensive replacement or pinch-hitter late in games the Royals have a chance to win. Eaton also will serve as the Royals’ emergency catcher if they get in a bind.

Starting pitchers (5): Zack GreinkeBrady SingerJordan LylesBrad KellerKris Bubic
This is the rotation order for the first go-around, with Greinke, Lyles and Keller facing the Twins this weekend. Singer, looking to build on his breakout 2022 season, will make his regular-season debut on Monday against the Blue Jays, followed by Bubic on Tuesday. Bubic had a solid spring after shoulder soreness delayed him some at the beginning, and he slid into the rotation after Daniel Lynch suffered a left rotator cuff strain last week, landing on the injured list to open the season.

Relievers (8): Scott BarlowAroldis ChapmanAmir GarrettTaylor ClarkeDylan ColemanCarlos HernándezRyan YarbroughJose Cuas Barlow, Chapman and Garrett will be the Royals’ high-leverage relievers at the back end of the bullpen, and Coleman should start to see opportunities there, too. Clarke can also pitch in high-leverage and has the ability to go two-plus innings. Yarbrough and Hernandez are the Royals’ long relievers, while Cuas earned his first Opening Day roster spot by beating out Collin Snider this spring.

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