Chen, Duffy to take mound in spring opener

Chen, Duffy to take mound in spring opener

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Bruce Chen will start the Royals' first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Thursday at Surprise Stadium. Another lefty, Danny Duffy, is also scheduled to pitch.

Chen, expected to pitch two innings, is already slotted into the Royals' starting rotation, so there's no urgency for him to perform well enough to win a spot. That was the situation last spring when Chen lost a battle for the last rotation spot to Luis Mendoza.

"The most important thing is to be ready for the season and there are some things I need to do -- first of all, I need to get my arm strength, I need to make sure I pound the strike zone, I need to make sure I have my fastball command," Chen said.

Duffy, on the other hand, would like a good showing because he's one of several pitchers competing for the fifth starting spot this year.

No word yet on the Rangers' starter.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.