PEORIA -- Octavio Dotel's fastball constantly is registering 96 mph on radar guns. By the time the season starts, Dotel believes that number will increase. "I think I should throw harder," Dotel said on Friday after working another scoreless inning in the Royals' 7-3 loss to the Mariners. "The fans in Kansas City want to see some heat late in the game, and also saves. It looks better when you throw heat and get the save."
Dotel pitched only 10 innings in the Major Leagues last year after returning from June 6, 2005 Tommy John surgery. "I was kind of wondering how it was going to be," Dotel said. "After the 2006 season, it was OK, but I had some feeling it wasn't right for me, and I had that in my mind. Even in the Dominican, I was feeling good when I was throwing. So far it has been unbelievable in Spring Training. "I'm really happy my elbow has come so far. I'm really happy for myself the way I'm feeling right now." If Dotel's right elbow is healthy, that should be a major upgrade to the bullpen and a decline of the Royals' 31 blown saves last year. "That is what I'm here for," he said. In four Spring Training appearances, he has allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five in four scoreless innings. "I'm looking to have a good year," Dotel said. "I'm a free agent after this year." Dotel said he would throw back-to-back days and two innings in one game to prepare his arm for the season. Starting competition: Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke appear to be neck and neck for the fifth slot in the Kansas City rotation. "We're not ready not to make a decision," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "I haven't even thought about who is ahead of the other. We do evaluate these guys after every start. We've got to look at the whole picture. We can't be so impulsive." Bannister took the loss against the Mariners, allowing six runs on seven hits, including a three-run homer to Raul Ibanez. "Every hit was on the ground except for Ibanez's home run," Bannister said. "Ibanez was the only guy in the lineup I really didn't know. I won't throw that to him again. It was a fastball in a fastball count. I'll challenge him more next time. That is the only pitch the whole day I was disappointed with. They had a lot of weak ground balls. Except for the pitch to Ibanez, there wasn't a pitch I regret throwing. I was efficient the first couple of innings, and things didn't go my way."
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.