SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Venezuelan-born players in the Royals' training camp are expressing concern and showing support for their countrymen during the current unrest there.
"It's hard for us when we see all the video from our country. You feel a little sad for that," catcher Salvador Perez said. "We can't do anything about that. We have to take care of our job and the other players have to take care of their jobs. The season's about to start. All we can do is send a picture to show we're proud to be from Venezuela."
There are six players from Venezuela in the Royals' Major League camp, and Perez took a photo of them with many of their teammates in a show of support for family and friends in their country. Players from other teams were tweeting similar photos with the Venezuelan flag and signs.
"Everybody in my family is there -- my mom and my brother, my son, too," second baseman Omar Infante said. "We feel sad, we feel bad when we watch on TV. Everybody has their families there. Texas did that [sent a photo], too. That's good for the Venezuelan people; they know we are feeling bad, too."
Catcher Ramon Hernandez was another Royal concerned about the situation.
"My family is away from Caracas, so in my hometown it's not as bad as it was in the central, Caracas and Valencia and other places," Hernandez said.
"I talk to them almost every day. They're doing good, but the situation is bad. I never thought I'd see something like that, especially in Venezuela. The people over there are very calm, but I guess people got tired, they didn't have anything. They go to the supermarket and can't find anything to eat;. If your car is broken, you have to wait months because you can't get replacements."
The players are hoping the situation improves quickly.
"It's a great country. We go there to play winter ball and it's a fine country. We have a lot of fun," Hernandez said. "To see it like this -- there's no reason for it and it hurts us a lot."
Royals to 'piggy-back' pitchers in first spring games
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ten pitchers -- four presumed starters and six expected to compete for the fifth job --- are scheduled to pitch in the Royals' first five Cactus League games.
"We're going to piggy-back 'em," manager Ned Yost said. "Nobody's used to starting right now, you build 'em back up. That's why you piggy-back 'em -- you're getting 10 guys ready to start."
It depends on the individual, but each starting pitcher usually throws two innings or the equivalent in his first Spring Training outing. The first four starters are expected to be James Shields, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen.
The first two pitchers assigned to each game so far: Thursday vs. Rangers, Chen and Danny Duffy; Friday at Rangers, Shields and Chris Dwyer; Saturday, March 1, vs. Padres, Vargas and Brad Penny; Sunday, March 2, at Cubs, Wade Davis and Yordano Ventura; Monday, March 3, at White Sox, Guthrie and Luke Hochevar.
Yost said the Royals have scheduled two "B" games against the Rangers on March 7 and 11 to provide additional slots for pitchers.
Talented Dwyer in running for rotation spot
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Chris Dwyer is flying under the radar among the pitchers being considered for the Royals' fifth starting job, but he's a viable candidate.
"They've got a lot of good left-handers and in general the staff is very good, so I'll just go out there and do my best and control what you can control, work hard and let everything fall into place," he said.
Dwyer had a 10-11 record and a 3.55 ERA, sixth best in the Pacific Coast League, for Triple-A Omaha.
"I thought I threw well, and obviously going to the playoffs and winning the whole thing was special for us," Dwyer said. "And getting called up at the very end was a dream come true."
Dwyer, 25, caught everyone's attention in the Triple-A National Championship game by taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. He didn't get it, but got the victory as the Storm Chasers beat the Durham Bulls, 2-1.
After that, Kansas City called, and he pitched in two games with three scoreless innings of relief.
"Real good breaking stuff, real good changeup," manager Ned Yost said. "He did a nice job when he came to the big leagues last year."
Dwyer throws a fastball in the 88-92-mph range, but his dropping curveball is his primary weapon.
"The curveball, that's the two-strike pitch and the out pitch that I have. When it comes to get somebody out, I use that curveball -- not that I wouldn't use other pitches, but that's my best pitch," he said.
Dwyer will follow James Shields to the mound in the Royals' second Cactus League game against the Rangers.
"He made great strides as a pitcher last year, especially in the second half, and pitched some of the biggest games in that championship for Omaha," Yost said. "He's always had real good stuff and he continues to polish his command."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.