Chen tabbed as Royals' Opening Day starter
Hochevar, Sanchez to follow in first series against the Angels
PHOENIX -- Left-hander Bruce Chen pitched his way out of the Spring Training doldrums and into his first start as an Opening Day pitcher.
Royals manager Ned Yost announced after Tuesday's game that Chen would start the April 6 opener against the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim. Right-hander Luke Hochevar will start the second game and left-hander Jonathan Sanchez the third game of the opening series.
"I think Bruce can keep us in ballgames against No. 1 starters, and then we've got Hoch and Sanchy coming up behind him that'll keep us in ballgames against No. 2 and No. 3 starters," Yost said. "So we like the way it sets up. It keeps our balance between left-right and Bruce deserves it, he earned it."
Yost noted that the selection of Chen meant that Hochevar would be in line to start the Royals' home opener on April 13 against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Hochevar started his first Opening Day last year and lost to the Angels, 4-2, in Kansas City.
The choice also means the Royals will give the Angels a left-right-left look in pitchers for the series.
Yost has not announced his fourth and fifth starters who would pitch in the first games of a three-game series in Oakland. But he's likely to choose between right-handers Luis Mendoza and Felipe Paulino and left-hander Danny Duffy for the last two spots.
Chen, 34, trotted out his overhand fastball for the first time this year and had a good outing in Tuesday's 9-7 victory over the Brewers. He had entered the game with a 15.00 ERA and Yost was waiting to see improvement before announcing his Opening Day choice.
In the first six innings, Chen held the Brewers to one run on Mat Gamel's homer while notching six strikeouts. When Jonathan Lucroy singled and Alex Gonzalez homered to start the seventh, Chen was relieved by Tim Collins.
Chen, knocked around in three of his previous four starts, had been working with his offspeed pitches and various arm angles in those games. But on Tuesday his plan was different.
"He hadn't incorporated his 87, 88 mile-an-hour fastball from up top all spring long," Yost said. "That's the last thing that he incorporates and he broke it out today. Everything else works off of that."
Chen's career was on shaky ground after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007 and missing the '08 season. But the Royals gave him a shot in '09, and he became their top winner in the last two seasons with 12 victories in each year.
"I'm very proud of the way I've developed, and the way I've put myself in this position," Chen said. "But I have to be grateful to my teammates, they play every hard every time we go out there. I have to be grateful to the Kansas City Royals organization because they had trust in me, they believed in me when other teams didn't want to."
Chen was a free agent after each of the last two seasons, but re-signed with the Royals each time.
"That's why I signed back with Kansas City, because I wanted to bring a championship," he said.
Betancourt dazzles again at second base
PHOENIX -- Yuniesky Betancourt demonstrated on Tuesday why he's captured such attention as a second baseman for the Royals in training camp.
In the fifth inning of a 9-7 victory over the Brewers, there was a runner at first base when Betancourt went behind the bag to backhand Yovani Gallardo's grounder and, heading toward center field, he threw the ball behind his back to shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Escobar grabbed the ball, stepped on the base and relayed to first baseman Eric Hosmer for a double play.
"Yuni's been playing spectacular at second base and really at all the defensive positions, he's done a nice job, but he's really been impressive at second base," manager Ned Yost said.
Yost will choose between Betancourt and Chris Getz for the Opening Day second baseman.
Betancourt also contributed one of the Royals' five homers on a power trip day (the Brewers hit two). Hosmer hit two blasts, one to right field and one to left, to give him four in the Cactus League. Mike Moustakas hit his first homer.
"Everybody's ready to go. We just have to play the rest of the schedule out," Yost said. "But offensively ... everybody's ready to go."
Cain considered for Royals' No. 2 slot
PHOENIX -- Manager Ned Yost sounds as if he's leaning toward center fielder Lorenzo Cain as his No. 2 hitter in the Royals' batting order.
"I'm not ready to set it in stone, but I like the way Cain sets up in the two-hole right now," Yost said. "I'm still kind of mulling it. If you've got [Eric] Hosmer, [Jeff] Francoeur, [Billy] Butler behind you, Cain might see more fastballs. And he can freakin' lean on a fastball. So we'll see."
Cain has been one of the Majors' leading hitters this spring and is batting .431. He would provide a right-handed bat between Alex Gordon and Hosmer, both lefties.
Yost's other option is second baseman Chris Getz, who handles the bat well, is a good bunter, and is hitting the ball with more authority this spring, although his average is .250 with one double.
"Yeah, but he's stinging the ball. He's hitting the ball so much harder," Yost said. "I think Chris Getz had four home runs in freakin' batting practice all last year. He's freakin' hitting the ball out of the park. He's driving the ball in batting practice, and in the games he's had a lot of hard-hit balls."
Royals' coach leaves due to mother's death
PHOENIX -- Third base coach Eddie Rodriguez has left the Royals because of the death of his mother in Miami on Sunday night.
In Rodriguez's absence on Tuesday, first-base coach Doug Sisson moved to third base and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer took over the first-base box.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.