Duquette on new rule for home-plate collisions

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ramon Hernandez has been a Major League catcher for 15 years, and home-plate collisions have cost him knee injuries, a bashed collarbone and countless black-and-blue marks.

So when the new rule designed to reduce mayhem at the plate was announced on Monday, he could only smile wistfully.

"I wish when I was coming up, this rule was coming in, because I'd have had fewer injuries," said Hernandez, bidding to become the Royals' backup catcher.

It'll certainly change certain aspects of the game, he conceded.

"For years, that's what people always loved to see -- the catcher getting run over," Hernandez said. "But I think, in a good way, it's going to save a lot of injuries, especially to catchers. You see a lot of guys in the past get their careers ruined by a collision, and they could never be the same after that. Even runners can run into the catcher and injure themselves."

The new rule, among other things, prohibits a runner going out of a direct line to ram into a catcher and prohibits a catcher from blocking the pathway of a runner before he has the ball.

"The first year, it's going to be tough for the guys to get used to, especially the guys that have been playing for a long time," Hernandez said.

"The game has always been aggressive at home plate. The fans see the catcher get run over, and they love that. They want to see if you're tough enough, if you get can up. They make a lot of stories out of that. But I think it'll be fine."

Royals bats on display in intrasquad game

Yost on young pitchers, intrasquad game

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- This is the time of the baseball year, training camp, when the pitchers are supposed to be ahead of the hitters.

Yet, as the Royals beat the Royals, 5-2, in an intrasquad game on Monday at the Surprise complex, the hitters seemed to be ahead of the pitchers. They hammered out 15 hits, including two home runs, and drew six walks in a six-inning game.

Manager Ned Yost, however, chose not to take sides after the first game action of Spring Training.

"This is a taste of competition in a low-key setting and in one inning you try to get them [the pitchers] acclimated to competing again, and I thought it went well," Yost said. "All the pitchers threw fine; I thought all their stuff was really good, I thought we swung the bats really well."

Right-hander Yordano Ventura, considered a front-runner for the open fifth-starter job, threw a lot of pitches, and his inning was cut short after walks to Jarrod Dyson and Alex Gordon, a foul fly out by Omar Infante, and some foul balls by Billy Butler who didn't even get to finish his at-bat.

"He got his pitch count up. His command was off a little bit but that's to be expected early," Yost said. "He threw like 24 [pitches], and we try to keep them around the 20-pitch mark their first time out."

Two other pitchers with their sights on that starting job, Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis, weren't dazzling, either. Hochevar gave up four singles, a walk and two runs, although he did get Eric Hosmer to rap into a double play. Davis gave up a home run to Carlos Peguero and a double to Alcides Escobar, but he did notch two strikeouts.

The other home run, also a solo shot, was by Paulo Orlando -- a laser over the left-field wall against left-hander Donnie Joseph.

Other hits included Justin Maxwell's triple against lefty Tim Collins; back-to-back doubles by Christian Colon and Jimmy Paredes off lefty John Lamb; and Johnny Giavotella's double against righty Jason Adam.

The only 1-2-3 inning was turned in by Minor League right-hander Aaron Brooks to end the two-hour workout. There'll be another intrasquad game on Tuesday.

"We don't expect them to be ultra-sharp, in midseason form," Yost said.

Best news: Nobody got hurt.

"That's the key," Yost said.

Royals single-game tickets to go on sale Saturday

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Got a Royals game or two that you just can't miss?

Single-game tickets will go on sale for the first time at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday, the club announced. They are available online at royals.com, by phone at 1-800-6ROYALS, at the Kauffman Stadium box office and area Hy-Vee stores.

Parking Lot M at the stadium will be open to fans no earlier than 8:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, and no overnight camping will be permitted.

The Royals will have a random drawing procedure for buying tickets at the ballpark on Saturday. Fans who want to participate must obtain a wristband at the Gate C lobby from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday or Friday or from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. on Saturday. The drawing to determine line order will be at 9:30 a.m. Those fans can purchase up to four Opening Day seats while supplies last.

Hy-Vee stores also will offer a limited number of Opening Day tickets for the April 4 game against the White Sox.