Robert Ford came to 610 Sports Radio in 2009 as the station’s “Royals Insider.” He currently serves as the pre and post game show host for Royals Broadcasts on 610. The Syracuse graduate has been around professional baseball as a reporter and broadcaster for over a decade.
Royals Spring Training Report for Tue, 3/27
by Robert Ford,posted Mar 27 2012 6:29PM
I was a little surprised when Royals manager Ned Yost announced today that Bruce Chen would be the Opening Day starter April 6th in Anaheim, followed by Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez. With the way Hochevar pitched in the second half last year and spring training this year, I thought for sure that he would be the guy for the second straight year. Chen has been the Royals best pitcher the last two seasons but, even at his best, he doesn’t project to be the innings-eating workhorse that Hochevar can be. Yost indicated that the decision was based more on balancing out the rotation than anything else. Hochevar and Chen were going to be the top two starters in some order and Sanchez was a lock to be in the third spot. However, making Hochevar the Opening Day starter means bunching two lefties back-to-back in Chen and Sanchez. I think Hochevar should be the Opening Day starter regardless, but Yost clearly didn’t feel that way.
Speaking of Chen, after watching him struggle in the first and fifth innings of his start Thursday, but retire 11 of 12 and pitching well in the middle three frames, I wanted to see if Chen could build off that good stretch he had. It’s been a rough spring numbers-wise for Chen, who’s rotation spot has never been in jeopardy since he was the Royals best pitcher the last two seasons and was signed to a two-year, $9 million deal this past off season. And, Chen didn’t disappoint today vs. the Brewers in Maryvale, pitching into the seventh and allowing three runs. Chen threw all of his pitches effectively, got a good Brewers lineup to mis-hit the ball and, other than the home runs by Mat Gamel and Alex Gonzalez, didn’t allow a hard-hit ball. The last week of spring training is important for guys competing for a spot, but it’s also important for pitchers, who need to have their stuff fine tuned and ready for their first regular-season outing, and Chen appears to be close.
I was also impressed with the way Mike Moustakas looked at the plate today. After striking out his first time up, he went down and got a Yovani Gallardo pitch and smoked it to rightfield for a double. Next time up, Moustakas stayed back on a breaking ball and hit it out of the park to right-center for a homer. To me, Moustakas has looked a little too pull-conscious much of the spring, making him vulnerable to off speed pitches away, but his timing looked much better today, which is encouraging for the Royals.