SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Wondering about the Royals' final roster? So are we. So is general manager Dayton Moore. So is manager Trey Hillman. So are the players. The camp roster stood at 42 and hadn't change by the time the Royals took the field on Monday night. It might not even change on Tuesday. When might the roster be finalized? When the Royals break camp here on Thursday? After they get to Milwaukee this weekend for a couple of exhibitions? Or maybe at Detroit just before they open the season?
"I hate to speculate," Hillman said. The only roster news on Monday was that Mike Aviles, a non-roster infielder, was cut and reassigned to the Minor League camp. He's expected to play second base, plus some third and shortstop, for Triple-A Omaha, according to Moore. Aviles, the Royals' Minor League Player of the Year in 2007, had a good spring. He batted .419 (13-for-31) and had two doubles, a triple and six RBIs. But he had to compete against Esteban German and Alberto Callaspo, considered virtual locks for backup jobs. A big concern for Royals management: the pending start-of-season suspensions faced by right fielder Jose Guillen (15 days) and catcher Miguel Olivo (five games). Have the Royals heard anything? "We haven't," Moore said. "We don't know what's going on." So until word comes from the Commissioner's office, things are in limbo. There's been speculation that the players named in The Mitchell Report, i.e. Guillen, will not be penalized. "Unless we hear it's been reduced or it's been [revoked], we move forward as if he's suspended," Moore said. "Same with Olivo." Olivo's suspension would cost the Royals one man for five games, Guillen's would not. The club doesn't know if they'll open with 24 players or 25. Therefore Hillman doesn't know if he'll keep 11 pitchers or 12, which, of course, will affect the number of position players.
The Royals have spent a lot of time figuring possible scenarios, depending on what comes down."We've got every option available," Hillman said. "Honestly, that's how come I don't know if it's 12 and 12 or 11 and 13. It'd be great if it was 12 and 13. But I don't think that's going to happen. I still think there's going to be an implication of having to start the season with 24." Players are aware of the situation, and guys on the bubble don't quite know what to think. Will they be playing for Kansas City or for Omaha. "You'd kind of like to know something when it's winding down," said pitcher Neal Musser. "My wife and kid are driving up from Florida. ... Luckily they have to come through Kansas City on the way to Omaha." When might the fans know the final roster? "I think it's going to come down to the last minute," Hillman said, "and also the thing that I've said many times: you can't set the roster until we know other people's decisions." So many questions, so few answers.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.