Chen and Hochevar pitch Royals past Athletics
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar are competing for the final spot in the Royals' rotation. The loser might not be with the organization for too long.
A multitude of scouts watched the pair each throw three sharp innings in an 8-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday remain undefeated.
The Royals are listening to trade offers for both.
Chen allowed one run on two hits and walked none. Hochevar pitched three scoreless innings, but yielded three hits and walked one. He finished strong, striking out the final three batters.
"Even though we are fighting for a fifth spot in spring training, I think it is an all-year battle for the fifth spot," Chen said. "You can win it, but then you can lose it in a matter of two months. In reality, whoever wins it, wins it, but it is going like to be an audition every time that person goes out."
Chen, a 35-year-old left-hander, has led the club in victories the past three seasons.
"I feel like I can help the team the most by being in the starting rotation," Chen said. "But if I'm not in the starting rotation, that means there are five guys better than me. If there are five guys better than me, then I better do something. I'm getting paid a lot of money to be in the bullpen, so I better do something good."
Chen will make $4.5 million this year, while Hochevar will earn $4.56 million.
"I am working towards where I want to be, make sure my arm is strong enough to go deep in game," Chen said. "I want to make sure I'm using my fastball on both sides of the plate and keep the ball down. So far it's been going well, but it's not a matter of one time or two times, but it's a matter being able to do it consistently and being confident that you can do it for seven, eight innings. That's the main goal."
While manager Ned Yost has said whoever does not win the fifth rotation spot will go to the bullpen, a trade looms as a strong possibility if all the starters remain healthy in March with the projected payroll at a franchise-record $79 million.
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