Royals work with hand they're dealt

Lynn Worthy The Kansas City Star
Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny, left, talks with general manager Dayton Moore during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Surprise, Ariz.

The circumstances surround this MLB spring training make it uniquely challenging as everything remains very much in a state of fluctuation due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that baseball plans to start a 60-game regular season later this month.

None of this is familiar territory for longtime baseball people like Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore and manager Mike Matheny. So they're hanging their hats, and those of the organization, on an ability to roll with the punches and adjust to whatever gets thrown at them from one day to the next.

After all, there can't be a lot of comfort in trying to shape a major-league roster when you can't predict who might be sidelined by a positive test result, or when.

Draw up a lineup, and it could be ripped apart by the coronavirus. Plans for the bullpen may be little more than wishful thinking. The roster itself might be constantly changing.

"It could all change a day before we head north," Matheny said. "I think us being a versatile club is helpful. I think us having a flexible club -- flexible kind of in them understanding how we might look at this and look at these opportunities differently. I think they're going to have to continue to embrace that. 'What does it look like to truly go at this as we need 27 outs? Who could we use and how do you fit?'"

Moore echoed those sentiments and added that roster creation is a day-by-day exercise right now.

"You've just got to be flexible and be prepared for any scenario that could possibly take place," Moore said. "That's what we're doing. Every day we build out a roster based on the players that are available to us. That's simply our focus. It's really just one day at a time."

Despite issues with testing that have caused other teams, such as the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, to cancel workouts this spring, Moore spoke glowingly of the health protocols the Royals have in place, including their testing regimen and how it has created a rhythm to camp.

Royals vs. Cardinals?

As far as playing an exhibition game or games during spring training 2.0, the Royals appear to be closing in on an arrangement. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals appear likely to play an exhibition game against the Royals in St. Louis before the start of the MLB season on July 24.

Moore said the club was getting close to finalizing its exhibition plans.

"The whole thing is pretty fluid," he said. "You've got to find the right pattern, as well."

Moore said he hoped the club could announce its exhibition plans within the next couple of days. He noted that the Royals could play exhibition games both on the road and at home.

"We've tried to keep it fresh by kind of revolving the schedule so it's not the exact same thing every single day, so you don't really fall into that boring monotony," Matheny said. "I don't sense that's here yet, but it could happen quick. The idea of playing somebody else, that's what we do. Facing some other pitchers, I know that's something the guys are always interested in."

Catcher conundrum

Both Matheny and Moore expressed general optimism about their catching situation as it relates to recent COVID-19 infections.

The club announced Saturday that catcher Cam Gallagher had tested positive, which means none of the three catchers currently on the Royals' 40-man roster are available to play. The club awaits Salvador Perez's return from a positive COVID-19 test and Meibrys Viloria went on the IL last weekend with an undisclosed injury.

"Mike and I have talked a lot about this and we're fortunate in the sense that if something like this was going to happen, it happened early in the process," Moore said. "Obviously, that's not a position that you can cover very well. We need depth there. We're hopeful that we're going to get a couple guys back sooner than later. We'll just continue to prepare each and every day to cover it."

Matheny remained encouraged by the amount of work Perez has put in during his period of isolation in order to make his transition to workouts as smooth as possible when he's cleared medically.