Yesterday marked the debut of two possible Royals starting pitchers. Two players who are competing with each other for the fifth spot in the rotation, Hochevar and Bruce Chen, both took the mound yesterday against the Milwaukee Brewers at the Royals’ Spring Training facility in Surprise, Arizona. Hochevar wasn’t sharp in his spring debut, allowing 1 hit, 3 walks, and 2 runs, while striking out 2 in 1 2/3 innings. These numbers in and of themselves are not alarming because it was his first live action of the spring. The horrifying aspect was Ned Yost‘s befuddled comments about Hochevar’s performance after the game.
“I thought Hoch’s stuff was dynamic,” Yost said. “He struggled with command but was pretty consistent most of the time.”
Huh? So…Hochevar was consistently struggling but did it in a dynamic manner? And that’s a good thing? Wow! Why do the Royals and Yost feel the need to sugar coat all the awful? Do they think everyone else is an idiot? Why not just admit it was his first outing of the year and he wasn’t sharp? Why try to muddle everything?
Everyone who follows the Royals even casually knows his history with the Royals. There is no reason to cover that well stomped path now. Hochevar struggles over the years are well documented. It is just baffling that the Royals cannot cut off ties with this guy and continue to protect him with the media. Everyone knows how bad he is. The fact they are paying him $4.56 million if he breaks camp with the team, is flat out crazy.
Early in Spring Training, Hochevar announced they had found a flaw in his mechanics that caused him to pitch ineffectively with men on base. After his first outing, it is obvious there is still a lot of work to be done. It seems quite possible that the mechanics that need fixing rests between the ears, and that is probably never going to change.
The Royals can still escape a bulk of this monstrosity of a contract by waiving Hochevar before setting their Opening Day roster. If this is, in fact, correct, Hochevar’s leash should be very, very short indeed. If he does not show progress, and quickly, he cannot be on this team when the season starts. Hochevar has had plenty of opportunities. It is up to him to seize this (hopefully) last one, and turn his career with the Royals around. If substantial progress isn’t made in his next couple of spring outings, he should be released and the competition for the fifth spot should be opened up between Luis Mendoza and Bruce Chen (who, by the way, pitched 2 perfect innings yesterday). Somehow, Luke Hochevar will probably still end up in the Royals rotation come April as the fifth starter. The Royals just love him too much.
On a completely different note, after the 3-2 victory yesterday over the Brewers, the Royals remain undefeated in spring play at 5-0-1. While this is still utterly meaningless, it is interesting to follow. If this trend continues much longer, fans are going to take notice and start getting more and more excited about the start of the 2013 season.