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SEA@OAK: McCarthy shines in first outing of 2012

A few years ago, Bruce Chen and Brandon McCarthy were fighting for Major League survival. Now, they're the de facto aces of their respective ballclubs.

The two hurlers will square off on Wednesday when the Royals and Athletics meet for the final contest of their three-game set.

In 2009, the nomadic Chen joined the Royals, his 10th big league team. He didn't pitch in the Majors the year before, and he posted a 1-6 record and 5.78 ERA while splitting time starting and relieving in '09. The following season, however, the southpaw resurrected his career, going 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA.

He also appeared to have finally found a home.

Chen paced the Royals' staff with 12 more wins and a 3.77 ERA last season, and started for Kansas City on Opening Day last week, when he blanked the Angels over six innings.

"Oh, wow, man, Bruce really pitched a heck of a game," manager Ned Yost said. "I was proud of Bruce to come out and give us six strong innings like he did."

McCarthy's path to the top of his team's rotation hasn't been quite as long and winding, but it has been painful.

The right-hander cracked Chicago's rotation during the 2005 season, when he was just 21. He struggled in subsequent years with the White Sox and Rangers, as he battled injuries and inconsistency. He pitched mostly out of the bullpen in 2006, went 5-10 with a 4.87 ERA in '07, missed most of '08 with an injury and made 17 starts in '09. In all, he lost parts of four seasons to injuries, including three stress fractures in his right shoulder.

Something clicked, however, in 2011. McCarthy made 25 starts for the Athletics, going 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA. He was rewarded with an Opening Day start in Japan on March 28.

"It's a cool thing personally," McCarthy said about starting on Opening Day, "but really I'll be more excited if I pitch up to that level and do everything I'm capable of doing -- not just on that day, but the entire season."

Like an ace should, he delivered, holding Seattle to one run in seven innings.

Royals: Royals comment on Guillen situation
• Ozzie Guillen's remarks about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro -- and the manager's subsequent five-game suspension -- sparked league-wide and nationwide reaction.

Royals catcher Brayan Pena, who defected from Cuba in 2000, thought Guillen appeared sincere during his apology on Tuesday morning in Miami.

"I really saw somebody that was very regretful, somebody that was in a lot of pain, somebody who knew he'd caused him and his family and a lot of people a lot of pain," Pena said. "And somebody who really believed that he can change, that he learned from his mistake. He was like a piñata.

"This is America, everybody deserves a second chance. That's why I'm proud to be an American, that's why I became an American citizen."

Kansas City third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez hopes everyone involved -- both Guillen and the Cuban community -- comes away with a better understanding of the issues at hand.

"I don't think Ozzie meant any harm," Rodriguez said. "I feel that way, [but] it's a thorn in the Cuban community's side. I hope it passes -- and it passes in the right way -- and that balance and understanding comes across from everybody."

• Left fielder Alex Gordon went 0-for-3 in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Athletics. Gordon remains without a hit in 17 at-bats this season. Manager Ned Yost gave him a break on Monday, using him only to pinch-hit in the ninth inning.

Athletics: Devine undergoes second Tommy John surgery
• Oakland reliever Joey Devine underwent his second Tommy John surgery in the last three years. The right-hander will miss the 2012 season, after missing the majority of the 2009 campaign and all of the 2010 season after his first procedure.

"The frustration level and the sadness he's going through ... having worked his way as diligently as he did to come back, it's tough," manager Bob Melvin said. "To have to go back and do that again, I really feel bad for him."

• Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes batted third on Tuesday, the fifth different spot he has hit in this season. Melvin has also penciled his rookie slugger into the seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth spots in his batting order.

"Before long, he'll be back down to nine, working his way back up," Melvin joked. "But I've said all along, he's a 3-4-5 hitter, and we'll rotate him around a bit."

Worth noting
• Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp has been successful in each of his last 24 stolen-base attempts.

• Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain left Tuesday's game with a left groin strain.

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