SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If there's a motto for the Royals' Spring Training, try this: Master the mundane.
That's what manager Ned Yost was talking about as he led the Royals into their first full-squad workout on Saturday at the Surprise complex.
At Spring Training last year, the Royals concentrated on improving defense and baserunning. This year, it's more the little things.
"There's no major focus on any aspect of our game because we've gotten pretty good in all aspects of our game," Yost said. "Our main focus this year is going to be on our consistency and our ability to master the mundane, if you will. To be able to polish our fundamentals so we can be as perfect as we can fundamentally each and every time we step on the field."
Yost and his staff will be homing in on things that sometimes go unnoticed in the overall picture.
"Like it or not, the fundamentals are what our fans don't see. They see the big hit, the big strikeout," Yost said. "But it's the ability to cut the base properly, to go from first to third and make it. It's the ability to get a jump at third base with the infield playing in. It's the ability to, as an outfielder, get some momentum coming into the throw with the runner on third and keep that runner from scoring. In essence, if you add those things up every given night, those are the things that help you win ballgames."
After physical examinations took up most of Saturday morning, Yost met with his squad and finally got them going into a three-hour-plus workout about 2 p.m. CT. The sky was cloudless and the temperature was 71 degrees.
The practice included pitchers throwing batting practice to hitters, without the benefit of a protective screen on the mound.
"We're trying to give our pitchers every opportunity to get to a position where they can compete, and the screen takes away from their focus a little bit," Yost said.
"When you do it without the screen, you can't tell the hitters what's coming. You'll kill the pitchers. So it's kind of a live situation. It's really good. The quality of the workout jumps way up for the pitchers; it makes it very tough on the hitters -- especially on the first day. But this part of camp is about the pitching -- it's pitching practice, not batting practice. We'll have batting practice against the coaches later in the day, so it works out OK."
Starting on Sunday, the workouts will begin at 11 a.m. CT.
Mijares still absent from camp
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Relief pitcher Jose Mijares was still absent on Saturday, as the infielders and outfielders joined the batterymen for the Royals' first full-squad workout.
Manager Ned Yost said that Mijares had obtained his passport in Venezuela, and was expected to arrive during the weekend.
Also missing the workout were catcher Manny Pina and outfielder Paulo Orlando. Orlando, who underwent successful surgery for a sports hernia in Philadelphia, was returning to the Arizona camp. Pina was scheduled to leave for Kansas City on Sunday for surgery on his right knee.
Mendoza gets nod for Royals' Cactus opener
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza will be the Royals' starting pitcher on Sunday, March 4, in the opening Cactus League game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium.
Mendoza is a candidate for the starting rotation, after his 12-5 record and 2.18 ERA for Triple-A Omaha made him the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year. He also won two September starts for the Royals.
The Royals plan to play intrasquad games of six or seven innings next Thursday and Friday. Almost all of the pitchers are expected to throw an inning in those games. Excluded will be Mendoza, late reporting Jose Mijares, and Jonathan Broxton and Jonathan Sanchez, who are coming off injuries.
Robinson bides time waiting for a chance
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Big Clint Robinson, all 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds of him, is back in the Royals' Major League training camp and still looking over others' shoulders -- notably those of first baseman Eric Hosmer and designated hitter Billy Butler.
Robinson's way is blocked primarily by those players, despite his glowing numbers the last two seasons in the Minor Leagues. Robinson won the Texas League Triple Crown in 2010 with 29 homers, 98 RBIs and a .335 average for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. His .326/23/100 line in 2011 was a big factor in Triple-A Omaha's Pacific Coast League championship.
But Robinson is a first baseman and a DH, and those spots are sewed up in Kansas City. However, he's keeping a good attitude about his dilemma.
"That's my job. What am I supposed to do? Complain about it?" Robinson said. "You're not going to make the situation any better by moping around. I said last year, I'm not going to give the Royals an excuse on my part to not call me up to the big leagues. I'm going to play my game. I'm going to do my best to help the team win, and the executive decisions are up to them. I'm just going to try to make it as hard on them as possible to not call me up the big leagues."
Late last season, Robinson missed some games because of a sports hernia -- although he managed to play in the PCL playoffs, and hit .385 with five RBIs and nine walks in seven games. Then he had surgery.
The hernia, stemming from the lower abdominal region, caused Robinson pain in his groin and hamstrings, and a burning sensation in his stomach. It had been his on-and-off companion since his college days at Troy University. He aggravated it diving for a ground ball last season.
"You just don't think about it, you play through it," Robinson said. "The hitting wasn't the hard part of it. The hard part was running the bases."
Now, the hard part might be waiting for a big league chance.
"I'm just going to keep biding my time, and hope for the best," he said. "I could be doing a lot of other things that are a lot worse than playing baseball. I enjoy being here, right now. I enjoy every day that I get to play the game."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.