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Winter Meetings Notes, Day 1



In addition to the deals that were reached throughout the day Monday, a handful of managers met with media members for interviews. Here are some of the highlights from those sessions.

Royals manager Ned Yost was asked if fixing Eric Hosmer is as simple as giving him a clean slate:

"Yes. It really is," Yost said. "And getting back to work with new hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David, who he worked with his whole minor league career."

Hosmer is already working with Maloof this offseason and Yost expects that by the time spring training rolls around, "we're going to see a pretty dynamic Eric Hosmer."

Salvador Perez could be in line for a huge workload this year.

"I love that kid, I have a hard time not playing him," Yost said. "I love to write his name in the lineup because he's that special. I mean I've never had a catcher with the talent, the ability that this young man has, nor the makeup or the leadership on the field that this young man has. Ideally, if we can get him into 140 games, but I think reality is gonna be more like 150 if he stays healthy."

Yost also suggested that Perez has 20-homer upside in terms of power, which with that heavy dose of playing time seems within reach after he hit 11 home runs over 305 plate appearances in 76 games last season.

When asked about Johnny Giavotella's struggles after hitting well and earning another promotion from Triple-A Omaha last season ? Yost said that Giavotella may have tried to do too much offensively when he came up, but he improved defensively. With the team's new hitting coaches having experience working with Giavotella (and most of the other young Royals hitters) in the past, Yost believes that Giavotella can be the offensive player he was both at Triple-A and previous minor league levels.

Regarding his lineup as a whole, Yost indicated that he doesn't have a set plan just yet, but pointed to Gordon's versatility and ability to hit in any of the first six spots in the order.

On newly acquired starter Ervin Santana:

"I see a kid that has a tremendous slider. I see a kid that's highly motivated to have success. When I talked to [Angels pitching coach]Mike Butcher, he said 'you know every time Santana has had a rough year, he's always bounced back very strong.' With our park, with our defense, I think he's going to have a pretty good year."

Jake Odorizzi's spot in the rotation is far from guaranteed, but he will get a chance to compete. Yost said that Odorizzi looked worn down during his time in Kansas City at the end of last season, and ultimately the quality of his opportunity coming out of spring training will likely depend on who else becomes a part of the mix for the Royals in the coming months. Once he completes his development, Yost expects Odorizzi to be a very solid middle of the rotation starter.

A's manager Bob Melvin believes that there are 400-450 plus at-bats available for all of the outfielders currently on the roster. When asked about Chris Young as a potential leadoff option, Melvin suggested that role could be an option against left-handed pitching (career: .271/.371/.489 v. LHP, .228/.299/.419 v. RHP).

On the success of Yoenis Cespedes in his first big league season:

"We saw from Day 1 how well he could adjust. I was worried moreso after I got to know him about off-field stuff, rather than on-field stuff. He is a baseball player, and he prepares every day to play. He's very serious about it. You can tell by the adjustments he made and even going from center field to left field, that he's able to make those types of adjustments. And then you look at the talent level and you see a kid that the sky really is the limit and we expect him to get better and better every year."

Given his role as a big part of the Gio Gonzalez trade last winter, it should come as little surprise that Derek Norris will enter the season as the A's No. 1 catcher. Melvin made it sound as though Norris will control his own destiny in terms of playing time and season workload, but said that he has the tools both offensively and defensively to be an everyday option.

Melvin said that Dan Straily is in the mix for a rotation spot out of spring training, and that he believes we haven't seen the best out of the young right-hander yet.

"We saw him pitch some good games and we saw him have spurts where he's pitched pretty well, but I think that once he gets confident and feels comfortable at the big league level, the strikeouts and the dominance that you saw in Triple-A, I think he has the stuff to do that at the big league level."

How much more upside is there with Jarrod Parker?

"There's more, I think we saw him grow as much as anybody last year. If you watched Jarrod last year, he didn't even go to Japan with us. He didn't break with us based on a couple of tough outings and what we felt like were at the time were maybe some mechanical issues, then you go through the season and watch him get better and become more confident and now all of the sudden he's pitching in a prominent role in the postseason, pitching the first game for us. I think you're seeing a guy that's got a chance to be a top of the rotation guy whether that's No. 1 or No. 2."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he thought that Ben Zobrist played better at shortstop than any other position he played. Depending on the other moves the Rays make, there's a very real chance he'll open the season back in that role.

Maddon indicated that James Loney is a player that he had talked about with executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman for a long time. Talking about what he saw from Loney during the second half of the season when he was with the Red Sox, Maddon said that he really liked the quality of his at-bats.

"I know there's probably some chicken left on the bone there yet with him, according to Dave Wills, but he's also at that optimal age like 28 years of age, right in that sweet spot where we like to get guys who maybe have possibly which you consider have underachieved to a point, and then all of the sudden they come to us and this is like the perfect time to get them. This is the age I think, where a lot of potentially really good players that have not yet really arrived there, arrive there."

If you're trying to profit from Jose Lobaton or one of the other candidates for the Rays' backup catcher spot, Maddon said that the use of his catchers last season was "right on." Look for Jose Molina to catch something in the neighborhood of 100 games again.

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.

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