SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jason LaRue and John Buck may enter the season as 1A and 1B, in no particular order, on the Royals' catching depth chart. Kansas City manager Buddy Bell began Spring Training with the hopes one would emerge as the true No. 1 starter, but with only 10 games left before breaking camp in Arizona, that seems unlikely. "If the season were to start tomorrow, I would not know who that Opening Day catcher would be," Bell said on Sunday. "But whoever that Opening Day catcher would be would not catch the next day. They are kind of even, neck and neck.
"I think, right now, we're going to find time for both of them. That's kind of the way I see it right now with 10 days or so to go." Buck is the incumbent, having been the Kansas City starting catcher since his July 25, 2004, arrival as part of the Carlos Beltran trade. Buck has a career .242 average with 35 home runs and 127 RBIs in 303 games with the Royals. LaRue was acquired in a Nov. 20 trade with Cincinnati, where he was a starter from 2001-05, but he lost his starting job last year when he needed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in Spring Training. "We like both of them," Bell said. "They've both played very well. I think both of them played better than I anticipated. They have a good relationship. It is going to be hard to pick one of them. I was hoping it would be a little bit easier, but that has not been the case." Bell said he is not a fan of pitchers having personal catchers. "But we might have to do that," Bell said. "It's easier just because they are both right-handed [hitters]. It would be a little bit easier to set it up that way. You don't throw a left-handed-hitting catcher out there against a left-hander. At least you wouldn't prefer that." Blister problem: Left-hander Odalis Perez left after three scoreless innings and 39 pitches against the Giants on Sunday with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. "It's a little blister," Perez said. "I wanted to go farther. I wanted to go five or six innings, but we'll just take care of it now so I don't have any problems during the season. It is better to happen now because now they can take care of it. I don't want to rush it and get it worse." Perez said he has not had any blister problems in a long time. Bell and a trainer came to the mound in the top of the second after Perez had finished his warmup pitches to look at the finger, but they allowed him to stay in for a couple of more innings.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.