SURPRISE, Ariz. — Another platoon of scouts is anticipated Sunday at Surprise Stadium when the Royals send out Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen in a piggyback start against the Los Angeles Angels.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Other teams remain convinced the Royals will look to move a starting pitcher before the end of spring training. The likely candidates are Hochevar, Chen and Luis Mendoza, who are competing for the final spot in the club’s rotation.
That might happen, of course, but Royals officials continue to downplay the possibility. They point to Wade Davis’ recent shoulder ailment, which they characterize as mild inflammation, as a reason for caution.
“We do have depth (in the rotation),” one Royals official said, “but depth has a way of disappearing in a hurry when it comes to pitching.”
Hochevar will start Sunday’s game, which begins at 3:05 p.m. Central time. (The clocks didn’t switch in Arizona, which doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time.) The game can be heard in Kansas City on KCSP (610 AM).
Chen will follow. A piggyback start means the second pitcher goes through his usual preparation for starting a game and will begin an inning. If Hochevar fails to complete his scheduled four innings, a reliever will pitch as a bridge.
Here’s the lineup: LF Alex Gordon, SS Alcides Escobar, DH Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, RF Jeff Francoeur, CF Lorenzo Cain, 1B Max Ramirez, C George Kottaras, 2B Chris Getz and Hochevar.
The Royals enter the game at 12-1-1 after Saturday’s 13-2 thrashing of San Francisco in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Royals had 18 hits before the Giants got their first one.
“We have a lot of confidence,” first baseman Billy Butler said, “and we believe in each other. Playing the way we are, regardless that it’s spring training, is a lot of fun.”
Some items from Saturday the World Baseball Classic:
• First baseman Eric Hosmer went hitless in four at-bats for the USA in its 6-2 victory over Italy. The Americans need a win today over Canada to advance to the second round.
• Catcher Salvy Perez went one for four with a double in Venezuela’s 6-3 loss to Puerto Rico. The loss eliminates Venezuela, which means Perez should rejoin the Royals after Monday’s open date.
• Second baseman Irving Falu went zero for five but scored a run for Puerto Rico in its victory. Puerto Rico has already advanced to the second round.
• Miguel Tejada played third base and went one for four with a walk for the Dominican Republic in its 6-3 victory over Spain. The Dominican Republic has already clinched a spot in the second round.
Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is today’s exchange:
@grantmcmurray: What is Royals record while Getz is in game viz when he isn't? He may have intangibles that don't show in stats but do in W/L
The Royals are 12-1-1, so they’ve been pretty good period. But for whatever it’s worth, Johnny Giavotella started the tie and the loss.
Last year, the Royals were 30-25 when Chris Getz started at second base, and 21-22 when Giavotella started at second base.
@RTLong3: Is Hosmer going to play RF the 1st week against the #Phillies ?
Listening to manager Ned Yost, I sure don’t think so.
@cyrusthevirus85: hosmer has looked terrible tonight. Concerned?
Club officials would rather see Eric Hosmer raking the ball in the World Baseball Classic, but his performance has little to no impact on his status with the Royals.
@KingMurphy14: spending some time in the valley next week, other than surprise what is your favorite stadium?
My favorite is Peoria because it’s close to Surprise and has a good press box. But Salt River Fields in Scottsdale is, hands down, the best ballpark in the Cactus League.
@NathanRudolph: is it time to start talking about Ventura opening the season with the big club?
There might be talk among fans — and he’s been impressive this spring. But all signs still point to Yordano Ventura opening the season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
What he has done this spring is add weight to the belief that he could help the big-league club this season at some point.
@wtalley: Any chance #Royals open w/ 5 OFers considering the way DLough is killing the ball?
Only a slim chance. Really slim. But David Lough and pitcher Will Smith, in my view, have been the best players in camp.
@JesseSojka: Which leads to better chance of post season: KC off to a fast start out of the gates or a steady, solid start?
Have to believe that more victories are always better whenever you get them. I don’t think anyone turns down a fast start.
@bleedingkansan: will Brandon Wood be called up at all this year?
Wood was signed to serve as organizational depth, particularly at third base for Mike Moustakas. If Moustakas stays healthy, it’s hard to see where Wood fits.
@huskerjon00: sn't it about time to start talking about Lough beating out Frenchy for starting RF for #Royals
If you mean talk among fans, it’s a steadily increasing drumbeat. But there’s nothing to suggest the Royals have wavered in their commitment to Jeff Francoeur as their right fielder.
@KennedyMLB: How is looking for Johnny in the 2B battle, who has edge at this point
Johnny Giavotella’s stock spiked upward Saturday when he went three for four with four RBIs. If he starts hitting like he did in the minors, I don’t see how he doesn’t win the starting job.