SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Statistically at least, Round 1 of the Bruce Chen-Luke Hochevar battle for the Royals' fifth starting job goes to Chen.
Chen reeled off two perfect innings in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Brewers. Hochevar gave up two runs on three walks and one hit in two innings. Each notched two strikeouts.
Manager Ned Yost, however, expressed appreciation for both pitchers in their first outings of the Cactus League season.
"I thought Hoch's stuff was dynamic; he struggled with command, which is pretty consistent most of the time for the first outing of the spring," Yost said. "I thought Bruce was extremely sharp. I was happy with what I saw out of both of them."
Hochevar started and, like Chen, threw to backup catcher George Kottaras. His control problems came with his two-seam fastball.
"I was pleased with my four-seam command, I was pleased with my curveball and I mixed in four or five changeups," Hochevar said. "That was really the first time that I threw my two-seamer quite a bit … and it was sinking below the zone, but it was the action I wanted. That was the pitch I fell behind with a little bit and that I wasn't commanding that much, but that's a feel pitch, and that'll come."
Chen, though, said he had command of all his pitches. He used 28 pitches, 10 fewer than Hochevar.
"I felt George did a really good job for the first time catching me in a game and calling the game," Chen said. "I worked very hard in the offseason, and I wanted to make sure that I came here to camp and help this team in any way I could. I think I made some adjustments; I think me, Dave [Eiland, pitching coach] and all the coaches have been working on getting the ball down, and I think it's working."