SURPRISE, Ariz. — Competition for the fifth spot in the Royals rotation resumes today when Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar, the primary competitors, combine in a piggyback start against an Oakland split squad at Surprise Stadium.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Chen will start and likely work three innings. Hochevar will prepare as a starter and enter the game at the start of the inning. The game starts at 2:05 p.m. Central time and can be heard on KSCP (610 AM) in Kansas City.
It is the second spring appearance for both. Chen worked two perfect innings last Wednesday against Milwaukee after Hochevar permitted two runs on one hit and three walks as the starter in 12/3 innings.
Hochevar attributed his problems to command difficulties with his two-seam fastball, which he believes are easily correctable.
Numerous opposing scouts are likely to attend todays game because other teams believe the Royals will look to trade Hochevar, Chen or Luis Mendoza prior to the end of spring training.
Royals officials say they plan to open the season with one of the three in the rotation and the other two serving as long relievers in the bullpen.
Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is todays exchange:
@brownie_98: do you think Lorenzo Cain will get a fair shot in the outfield and top of the order? and is Falu going to make a contribution
There is every reason to believe Lorenzo Cain, if healthy, will be the starting center fielder when the Royals open the season April 1 in Chicago.
The only way Cain bats leadoff, I think, is if Eric Hosmer struggles and manager Ned Yost feels the need to drop Alex Gordon down in the lineup. I doubt Yost gives up on Hosmer prior to the start of the regular season.
Irving Falu appears to be third in line for duty as a utility infielder behind Elliot Johnson and Miguel Tejada. That probably means Falu opens the season at Class AAA Omaha, but theres a good chance he gets called up at some point.
@RoyalDUF: is Hosmer working out to play RF or is that not an option this year for NL games.
Hes taking some fly balls in workouts, but Eric Hosmer has yet to play the outfield in any Cactus League games. I wouldnt be surprised to see him out there at some point, but only as a hedge against necessity.
Playing Hosmer in right field as a way to keep DH Billy Butler in the lineup (at first base) for games in National League parks was an idea the Royals abandoned last year after two games in Pittsburgh. The defensive consequences were just too severe.
@StefaniBlaire: From what youve seen, who would be on your starting lineup for opening day?
Id be surprised (at this point) if it changes from what manager Ned Yost has indicated: LF Alex Gordon, SS Alcides Escobar, 1B Eric Hosmer, DH Billy Butler, C Salvy Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas, RF Jeff Francoeur, CF Lorenzo Cain and the second baseman either Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella.
@prildp: When will WBC players return. I know when their team loses out but if their team goes all the way.
The championship game is March 19 in San Francisco.
@benny_the_buddy: Why didnt the radar gun work this weekend? I was there Saturday and was hoping to see how hard Arguelles was throwing.
Radar was working. Scoreboard showed Noel Arguelles hit 94 mph on one pitch but generally worked at 90-92.
@cyrusthevirus85: with tejada leaving for the wbc, does that diminish his chances of making the club? Hard to impress coaches not in camp.
I dont think the World Baseball Classic will be a factor in Miguel Tejada making the club. I think hes on the 25 and would have to play his way off.
@ColeClaybournMI: How is Justin Marks progressing? I write for the paper in his hometown.
His stock zoomed after a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA in seven starts. Before that, Im not sure the Royals would have protected him from the Rule 5 draft by putting him on the 40-man roster.
This spring, though, hes just here for a look.
@Rheff7: just want your thoughts on Christian Colon. Mainly asking cause we drafted him over Chris Sale. Any positives to that?
Well, I dont think theres much doubt that, with a do-over, the Royals would take Sale. That said, I think theres a good chance Colon plays his way into a look as a possible alternative eventually to the Chris Getz/Johnny Giavotella battle at second base.
Id be surprised to see Colon jump past them this spring, but he could draw increasing attention if neither Getz nor Giavotella seize the opportunity.
@Petrifried: are there ANY negative reports out of Royals spring training? Optimism is surely not the only emotion in camp.
Its hard to find negatives on an unbeaten team that leads the majors in batting, ERA and fielding and has no unexpected major injuries. But stick around.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.