Tejada, Sherrill among Royals' spring invitees
Endy Chavez, former Angels prospect Wood also on list of 21 players
Among the Royals' 21 non-roster Spring Training invitees are a former American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, an All-Star reliever, a one-time top prospect of the Angels and a notorious thief on the basepaths.
In addition to the members of the club's 40-man roster, the Royals will welcome nine pitchers, four catchers, four infielders and four outfielders to their camp in Surprise, Ariz.
That group includes Miguel Tejada and Endy Chavez, who signed Minor League deals with the team on Dec. 31. Tejada, a six-time All-Star and the 2002 AL MVP Award winner, played 36 games for Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate last year and was batting .284 through 34 contests in the Dominican Winter League this offseason. He'll turn 39 in May, but appeared eager to aid the development of the club's younger players.
"I'm going to try to help this team and their younger players," Tejada said upon his signing. "I'm so happy because this is what I was aiming for, a chance to get back to the Majors."
Chavez made his big league debut with Kansas City in 2001. He has also played for the Expos, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles.
Veteran relievers George Sherrill and Dan Wheeler will have a chance to make an impression. Sherrill, a 35-year-old southpaw, earned an All-Star nod in 2008. He racked up 31 saves for the Orioles that season and 21 a year later. He made just two appearances last season with Seattle before undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. Wheeler struggled in 12 outings with Cleveland last year, but totes a 3.98 ERA across 13 big league seasons with the Rays, Mets, Astros, Red Sox and Indians.
Brandon Wood, once a top prospect of the Angels after he hit .321 and belted 43 home runs in 130 games as a 20-year-old at Class A, could make the team as a utility infielder or challenge for the second base job. Now 27, Wood batted .259 in 119 contests for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate last year. He is a career .186 hitter in 272 big league games with the Angels and Pirates.
Willy Taveras paced the National League with 68 stolen bases in 2008. He finished second in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting three years earlier. The 31-year-old outfielder last played in the big leagues in 2010 with the Nationals.
Pitchers and catchers report to Surprise on Feb. 11. The rest of the squad arrives on Feb. 14. Here is the complete list of the 21 non-roster invitees:
Pitchers: Blaine Boyer, Sugar Ray Marimon, Michael Mariot, Brian Sanches, Atahualpa Severino, Sherrill, Yordano Ventura, Ryan Verdugo, Wheeler
Catchers: Adam Moore, Manuel Pina, Max Ramirez, Julio Rodriguez
Infielders: Christian Colon, Anthony Seratelli, Tejada, Wood
Outfielders: Chavez, Luis Durango, Xavier Nady, Taveras