Joakim Soria reclaims closer duties after one-week demotion

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Demoted from closer to middle reliever last week after blowing three saves in four appearances, Joakim Soria threw five hitless innings in three outings and now the Royals are ready to hand him ninth-inning duties back.

Aaron Crow was tabbed as the fill-in closer, but never actually got a save opportunity. Ned Yost told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that Crow will remain in a prominent late-inning role as Soria’s primary setup man, saying Soria “is ready” for his old gig back following “five pretty dominant innings of relief work.”

Yost also noted how well Soria handled the demotion and Soria credited the brief stint in middle relief for helping him “feel better in my command.” And now the Royals will hope the one-week demotion will somehow also help Soria rediscover the miles per hour that were missing on his fastball.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: