Royals look to keep rolling

Royals look to keep rolling

There was doubt at the end of Spring Training whether Odalis Perez would be able to make his first start of the season.

Perez left his final Spring Training start last Thursday against the Rangers after only three innings because of a blister on his middle left finger. It was the second time in three starts Perez exited after three innings because of a blister on the same finger.

While manager Buddy Bell had concerns about Perez starting on Wednesday against the Red Sox, Perez insisted the blister was minor and he would be able to go.

"These guys [trainers] did a good job on the blister," Perez said on Monday. "I don't think there will be any concerns."

Just in case the blister would recur and would restrict his innings, Bell said he has rookie Joakim Soria on notice to come in and give the Royals innings.

Perez began last season in the Dodgers' rotation, but was sent to the bullpen after going 3-3 with an 8.53 ERA in eight starts. Perez was not happy with the demotion and was traded to the Royals on July 25.

"I don't need to prove nothing," Perez said. "If I'm healthy, I can be able to do a lot of good things."

Perez went 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA in 32 starts in 2002 with the Dodgers and went 12-12 with a 4.52 ERA in 2003, but has not won more than seven games in a season since then.

"I'm happy to come to Kansas City and be the No. 2 guy in the starting rotation," Perez said.

Perez pitched one of his best games against the Red Sox last season, striking out 10 on Sept. 8 at Fenway Park. He left with a 5-3 lead after six innings, but got a no-decision in the Royals' 10-9 victory as the bullpen failed to keep the lead.

"Physically and mentally, I'm ready to go," Perez said. "I won't be thinking about what happened last year. That is in the past. This is a new season and I'm big believer that for me to be out there every five days and give me the confidence I want that is the best thing. I know I'll be able to go out every five days and be able to contribute to this team."

The Red Sox will counter with Josh Beckett, who is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts against the Royals. He held the Royals to just four hits in eight shutout innings in a 1-0 Red Sox victory on July 19 at Fenway Park. He has a no-decision in his only career start at Kauffman Stadium, allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits over six innings.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (0-0, 0.00)
Set career highs with 16 victories and 204 2/3 innings last season.

KC: LHP Odalis Perez (0-0, 0.00)
Has a 58-59 career record with a 4.33 ERA.

Player to watch
Mark Grudzielanek, who had three hits and three RBIs on Monday, has a career .364 average against Beckett.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• RSTN

On radio
• WHB 810-AM

Up next
• Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, 0-0, 0.00) at Royals (RHP Zack Greinke, 0-0, 0.00), 1:10 p.m.
• Friday: Tigers (LHP Mike Maroth, 0-0, 0.00) at Royals (LHP Jorge De La Rosa, 0-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m.
• Saturday: Tigers (RHP Chad Durbin 0-0, 0.00) at Royals (RHP Gil Meche, 1-0, 1. 23), 1:10 p.m.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.