Pitchers and catchers report for duty

Pitchers and catchers report for duty

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- While the Royals' pitchers and catchers were stretching under Wednesday morning's sun, a couple of familiar figures sauntered in from the parking lot.

Pitchers Joel Peralta and Leo Nunez were just arriving from the Dominican Republic where they'd played winter ball. No matter. They were razzed loudly by the players who'd been here for a few days.

"Long walk?" someone shouted.

It was the official reporting day for the Royals' pitchers and catchers and Peralta and Nunez were among the last names checked off on the arrivals list. Also just in, from Mexico, were starter Jorge De La Rosa and closer Joakim Soria.

A full complement of pitchers and catchers is expected to be in uniform on Thursday for the first official workout, one week after a series of voluntary sessions actually began.

"I'm happy to be back and I'm ready to get going," said De La Rosa, who'll be in competition for the fourth and fifth rotation spots. "I'm looking forward to it and I'm going to do my best."

A year ago Soria arrived as a little-known Rule 5 Draft pick who didn't know if he'd survive camp. During the summer he developed into such a reliable closer that the club felt comfortable in trading Octavio Dotel.

"It's great for me and my career now. I feel more comfortable with the team and I'll just try to do my best and keep going like last year," Soria said.

Lefty reliever Neal Musser also checked in on Wednesday.

"Always ready for a new season to get going. Definitely. It's a new year, clean slate, get out there and get after it," Musser said.

That was the theme on Wednesday, designated a "no-throw" day by pitching coach Bob McClure. With the coaching staff embroiled in planning meetings, it was a light day for actual workouts.

One pitcher did throw in the bullpen, though -- comeback-bound Hideo Nomo. His arrival attracted TV crews from Japan.

"He looked very good," McClure said. "He had a bone chip taken out [of his elbow] but he threw about 20 innings in Venezuela since then. Today, he had no pain, no discomfort."

McClure has been watching most of his pitchers for a week now and he feels very comfortable and confident about the staff assembled by general manager Dayton Moore.

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"What a change, just a tremendous change, in my opinion," McClure said. "Not only in the quality but the quantity of the quality. Those guys -- the scouts and Dayton -- did a great job."

Position players took the field for their rounds of batting practice without hitting coach Mike Barnett. The first full-squad workout will be next Tuesday.

Several non-pitchers still haven't been sighted, including Jose Guillen and Mark Teahen, but those hitters who are here will be invited to a special event on Thursday.

It's live batting practice against the pitchers. That's an unusual twist for the first official day of spring camp.

"I might be going out on a limb but I'd venture to say we'll be the only club having live batting practice on the first day of pitcher-catcher camp," manager Trey Hillman said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.