SURPRISE, Ariz. — Luke Hochevar makes his first official appearance as a reliever today when the Royals play the San Diego Padres in the first game of a split-squad, day/night doubleheader.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
If thats how it best suits the team, then we take it and roll with it," he said. "Thats what its about -- helping the club get to the playoffs and doing what we can when we get to postseason.
Hochevar later joked: Hey, it might be good for me. Maybe Ill be able to throw 100.
Manager Ned Yost announced Wednesday that Hochevar was shifting to the bullpen after pitching almost exclusively as a starter since his selection as the first overall pick in the 2006 draft.
Will Smith will start the game against the Padres, which begins at 3:05 p.m. Central time. Yordano Ventura will start against the Los Angeles Dodgers at 9:05 p.m. Central time at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.
Here are the lineups:
• vs. San Diego: LF Endy Chavez, 2B Johnny Giavotella, RF David Lough, 1B Billy Butler, CF Lorenzo Cain, DH Max Ramirez, 3B Brandon Wood, C George Kottaras and SS Christian Colon.
• at Los Angeles: LF Alex Gordon, 2B Chris Getz, 3B Mike Moustakas, RF Jeff Francoeur, SS Elliot Johnson, 1B Anthony Seratelli, C Brett Hayes, DH Willy Taveras and CF Jarrod
Smith and Ventura remain candidates for the final spot in the rotation along with Luis Mendoza, but the decision to shift Hochevar to the bullpen positions veteran lefty Bruce Chen as the favorite.
Notably, Chen is starting Saturday against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, which positions him in the cycle to the be the fifth starter.
Right-hander Wade Davis, sidelined since March 3 by shoulder inflammation, makes his return today to game action today by pitching in a minor-league game.
Should Davis hit a snag in his recovery, Smith and Ventura are slotted in their work schedule to step into his spot. Mendoza appears ticketed for duty as a long reliever.
World Baseball Classic notables:
• First baseman Eric Hosmer drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning Thursday that produced the USAs only run in a 3-1 loss to Dominican Republic. Hosmer went hitless in three subsequent at-bats.
• Lefty Tim Collins surrendered a single and a walk but no runs in pitching ⅔ of an inning.
• Miguel Tejada went one for five as the Dominicans third baseman.
Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is todays exchange:
@jdcraw82: Hosmer in WBC looks much like last year. How can we not be concerned?
Its a small sample size, but questions like these wont go away until Eric Hosmer starts producing.
@jbryanlarson: Any chance Moose goes to WBC with Wright having back issues?
The Americans cant replace David Wright with Mike Moustakas or anybody until/unless they advance to the next round. FoxSports.coms Ken Rosenthal says the leading candidates if that happens are David Freese and Chase Headley.
@kc_at_the_bat: Which Frenchy is likely to have a better 2013? Francis I or Francoeur?
Praying helps everybody.
@zackisnowhere: You're wonderful, Bob! Keep up the excellent work.
Hope youre paying attention, Jeff. You, too, Nicole.
@CKincade78: with the demotion of Hochevar, do the #royals go to a more younger starter with potential(Smith)
The big favorite, at this point, for that final rotation spot is veteran Bruce Chen, who is the oldest guy, at 35, on the clubs 40-man roster.
@atdiff: do you think they will win more regular season games based on preseason play? Versus previously projected win #'s?
Yes, but not based on the record. The Royals have better pitching, and it shows.
@EricDelRicci: if Holland falters at closer what are the chances Hochevar closes? #Royals
I doubt Luke Hochevar would be manager Ned Yosts first choice to replace Greg Holland, although there are plenty of examples of starters becoming effective closers. Next in line, I think, would be Kelvin Herrera.
@DaveDarby46: Some feel we depleted the farm system. Won't Omaha and NWA be stacked?
The truth is somewhere in-between. The Royals have lots of high-profile prospects, but most of them will start the year at Class A or lower.
@MrNegative1: Is Dan Wheeler pushing his way into #royals pen?
Hes certainly making a push. If he doesnt break camp with the big-league club, he is likely to be in line for a promotion when the need arises.
@huntizzle88: what is the health status of alcides? He hasn't been in the lineup the last few games?
Shortstop Alcides Escobar has been battling back spasms all week, but plans call for him to return Saturday to the lineup.
@ChrisWoerner: Any way at all with the spring that David Lough has been having he can make the Opening Day roster? Ahead of Frenchy?
David Lough is having a terrific camp and forcing club officials to take a harder look at him. That said, he faces long odds to break camp with the club and even longer odds to supplant right fielder Jeff Francoeur by opening day.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.