MLB roundup: Yordano Ventura in the bullpen?

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Starlin Castro is running at about "40 percent," Carl Crawford might not go to Australia, Shane Victorino is resting, and the Royals could put Ventura in the bullpen to start the season.

Royals pitching prospect Yordano Ventura has been impressing scouts all over the game with his triple-digit velocity and projected future as a fixture in the team's rotation. However, as the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough reports, the club hasn't ruled out using their top prospect as a reliever this season.

Moving Ventura to the bullpen would keep him on the roster, and his fastball would likely play well in short work, but he would only have a marginal impact on the team in that role. He would also continue to accrue service time in the bullpen, thus inching closer to arbitration eligibility. The team has shown an adherence to the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" with pitching prospects in the past -- namely Aaron Crow.

The Royals might decide to keep Ventura at the major league level to get him more innings there, but if they can't fit him into a rotation that features Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, and Bruce Chen, they could be better served by demoting him.

Starlin Castro running at about '40 percent'

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro hopes to return to the team's spring lineup soon, but he isn't quite ready, according to ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers. Castro, 23, is preparing to enter his fifth major league season. However, a hamstring injury has limited him over the last several days. He is expected to return before Opening Day, and says he hopes to "steal a lot of bases" in 2014.

The Cubs top prospect, Javier Baez, also plays shortstop. Although the team could move him to another infield position, Chicago is flush with infield prospects, so another disappointing season from Castro could be enough for the club to consider shopping him on the trade market.

Last year, he hit just .245/.284/.347 in over 700 plate appearances.

Carl Crawford could miss Opening Series in Australia

Crawford's girlfriend is expecting a baby "any day now," so the Dodgers outfielder could choose to stay home rather than travel with the team to Australia for the MLB Season Opener, according to True Blue LA's Eric Stephen.

Last season, Crawford hit .289/.329/.407 for the Dodgers in his first stint with the club. He was traded to Los Angeles during the 2012 season, but since he was injured at the time, he didn't debut for the team until 2013. The former All Star and MVP candidate is expected to play a significant role in the team's crowded outfield this season.

Shane Victorino resting with thumb injury

Victorino was held out of a minor league game due to a unspecified thumb injury, according to CSN New England's Sean McAdam. The 33-year-old outfielder expects to return to the field on Saturday, so the injury isn't likely to cause any long-term setbacks for the Red Sox.

Victorino posted a .351 on-base percentage and won the AL Gold Glove in right field for the Red Sox last season.

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