Hochevar aglow over first major-league base hit
Pitcher grounds a second-inning pitch through the right side for his first big league hit.By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
It wasnt just 7⅔ shutout innings Tuesday night that Luke Hochevar smiling after a 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros.
I think he was more impressed with his hit, first baseman Billy Butler said. I came in here (the clubhouse) and told him, good job, on the outing that he had, and he only cared about his hit. He was going to watch it on video.
Hochevars hit was a two-out grounder that found a hole through the right side of the infield in the second inning against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez.
Shoot, it was a long time coming, Hochevar said. Up until this time, I was oh for 14 or 15 with 10 or 11 punch-outs. It hasnt been pretty at all. To finally get a knock is pretty awesome.
His memory is pretty close. Hochevar was actually zero for 13 with one successful sacrifice bunt in 14 previous plate appearances before his single.
In his last at-bat, right fielder Jeff Francoeur said, Hoch told me he was sitting on a 2-2 slider.
Sitting too long; Hochevar took a third strike.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino is now scheduled to pitch five innings or 75 pitches Wednesday in a rehab start for Class AA Northwest Arkansas against Tulsa. Previous plans called for four innings or 60 pitches.
If all goes well, Paulino will be on track to start Monday against Tampa Bay at Kauffman Stadium. He was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA when he suffered a strained right groin in the first inning of June 6 start against Minnesota.
The Royals are likely to make a roster move prior to Wednesday afternoons series finale. The likely move would be to add an infielder by sending a reliever back to Class AAA Omaha.
Recalling Irving Falu would provide desired roster flexibility, although the club may choose to recall Johnny Giavotella.
The likeliest departure candidates are the two relievers recalled prior to Mondays series opener: right-hander Louis Coleman and lefty Tommy Hottovy.
Coleman permitted five runs in two innings in Mondays 9-7 loss. Hottovy entered Tuesday well-rested; he had not pitched since last Wednesday.
Jarrod Dyson is wary, just like all center fielders, at playing the hill in the deepest part of Minute Maid Park.
I just hope, Dyson said, it doesnt get hit to me there.
The hill stretches 90 feet from side to side with a 30-degree incline to the wall. Theres also a flag pole slightly to the left of dead center that is in play. Its called Tals Hill because former Astros president Tal Smith pushed for it as a design feature.
Ive played on a hill like that at (Class AAA) Albuquerque, Dyson said. Its tough running up a hill like that. Im afraid (my knees) will go out. So if one gets hit out there, I hope I beat the ball out there beat the ball to hill so I can get behind it.
The hill becomes a yearly obstacle next season for the Royals when the Astros shift to the American League after 51 years as a National League franchise.
Class AAA Omaha, which has been the Royals top affiliate since 1969, is under new ownership following the purchase Tuesday by Alliance Baseball, which is headed by businessman and entrepreneur Gary Green.
One of the new ownerships first acts was to announce an extension of its player-development contract with the Royals through 2016.
The club announced new ownership partners today, said Scott Sharp, the Royals director of minor-league operations, making this a perfect time for the Royals to show our continued commitment to the Omaha area.
Green is also involved in ownership of Class AA Richmond in the San Francisco system. He said no changes were planned in the Storm Chasers management team, which is headed by general manager Martie Cordaro.
The Storm Chasers success is what attracted us initially, Green said, and the teams recent recognition by Forbes.com as one of the top 20 minor-league franchises only confirmed our confidence in their success.
The Royals affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League, based in Surprise, opens its schedule Wednesday but dont look for right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the clubs first-round pick, to make his debut until next month.
Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said no dates have been set on Zimmer, who battled minor hamstring and groin ailments in May while closing out his collegiate career at San Francisco.
Current plans call for Zimmer to be throwing from a mound in early July. Barring setbacks, he will then shift to game action when deemed properly conditioned.
It was five years ago today June 20, 2007 that the Royals played the longest road game in their history in terms of time: 5 hours, 21 minutes in a 7-6 loss at St. Louis that spanned 14 innings.
The game ended when Jorge de la Rosa surrendered a leadoff homer to Ryan Ludwick.
The Royals also matched a franchise record that day by using eight pitchers a record most recently tied Sunday in a 5-3 victory at St. Louis in 15 innings that lasted five hours.
• Outfielder Bubba Starling, the clubs first-round pick in the 2011 draft, did not start Tuesday when short-season Burlington (N.C.) opened its season with an 8-1 victory at Pulaski in 10 innings. Starling is nursing a sore hamstring.
• Class A Wilmington right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon pitched one scoreless inning with two strikeouts and got the victory when the Carolina League All-Stars posted a 9-1 victory over the California League All-Stars in Winston-Salem, N.C. Wilmington righty Yordano Ventura also worked a scoreless inning.
• The Royals are just 41/2 games out of first place in the American League Central. Thats as close as theyve been to first place since May 15. They havent been closer than 4½ since April 16.
• Billy Butler went two for three with a walk and has reached base safely in 35 of his last 40 games.
• The Royals are 7-7 in interleague games with four remaining todays finale against Houston and this weekends I-70 Series rematch against St. Louis at Kauffman Stadium. They havent finished with a winning interleague record since going 13-5 in 2008.