On opening day, even the Royals, one of baseball’s worst teams in 1999, have reasons to be optimistic. Kansas City’s question heading into the season is simple: Can they pitch? The Royals have assembled an exciting young lineup, led by center fielder Carlos Beltran. First baseman Mike Sweeney is being touted by many as a candidate to win a batting title. To be competitive, the Royals must get better work from their bullpen, which was a disaster a season ago. Ricky Bottalico, signed from St. Louis, will start the year as the closer. The Royals’ starting rotation has been slowed by injuries this spring, including top starter Jose Rosado, who has been fighting a hamstring problem. The Royals open the season this afternoon in Toronto. Jeff Suppan is slated to start against the Jays’ David Wells, though Suppan was suffering from the flu yesterday. If he can’t pitch, Jay Witasick will get the ball. The Royals play four games in Toronto, before opening the home schedule in front of a sellout crowd Friday against Minnesota.
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