"It's important, definitely, but there's not a guy that's fighting for a starting position that it's not going to be important for," manager Trey Hillman said.
Hochevar, a rookie and the No. 1 pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, has had a good spring. In two relief appearances in Cactus League games, he's given up just one hit in four innings. He tuned up for this start with three innings in a "B" game against the Texas Rangers.
"He wasn't as sharp, but I think it did help him as far as being consistent when he's pitching," Hillman said.
The Royals have set Gil Meche, Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke as the top three starters. But the scramble for the fourth and fifth spots includes Brett Tomko, John Bale, Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Davies, Hideo Nomo and Hochevar. On the fringes are experienced non-roster pitchers Mike Maroth and Brian Lawrence.
"I would like to see it settled within the next week or 10 days, but I don't think it's going to be, I really don't. There's still too much competition going on for spots," Hillman said.
"I'm still interested to see what Nomo looks like, John Bale has done good, Hochevar has done good, Kyle Davies has had one good one and one bad one. It's a big day for both Hochevar and Davies tomorrow."
Davies will follow Hochevar to the mound against the Angels.
Hillman and pitching coach Bob McClure arrived late in Tucson, Ariz., because they stayed back to watch Tomko in a bullpen workout. He has given up eight earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
"Tomko obviously didn't look good the other day, but this morning he did some great things in his bullpen," Hillman said.
"He made some really good and quick adjustments in his bullpen so now it's a matter of seeing whether or not he can make that play out in a game. If he can, he'll have a lot of success. If he can't, it's going to go on the negative side again."
Hillman hasn't ruled out anyone.
"Everybody is still in it as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.