With Hochevar out, race for No. 5 starter heats up

With Hochevar out, race for No. 5 starter heats up

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Now that Luke Hochevar is headed for surgery, the battle for the Royals' fifth spot in the starting rotation is down to Danny Duffy, Wade Davis and Yordano Ventura.

There were indications earlier that whoever lost out in that competition might be placed in the bullpen. But general manager Dayton Moore has another opinion.

"If Duffy or Ventura did not win a spot in the rotation, I would prefer one of them being in Omaha over 162 games," Moore said on Friday.

"I would be open to a debate as an organization if we had to put one of them or maybe even both in the bullpen. But I think it's a long shot to have both of them in the 'pen. We would prefer to have one of those talented pitchers, who is definitely part of our future, pitching in the rotation somewhere."

However, it sounds like Davis could wind up the bullpen if he isn't the fifth starter. But Duffy or Ventura could be headed for Triple-A.

Ventura and Davis each pitched three innings in Friday's 5-0 loss to the Giants.

Ventura gave up two runs on three hits, throwing 26 of 41 pitches for strikes.

"He's still kind of struggling to get the feel for his secondary pitches for strikes, his curveball and his changeup," manager Ned Yost said. "It's early and pitchers develop a feel for that as they go along."

Davis had three strikeouts and surrendered two hits including Hunter Pence's solo homer. He threw 48 pitches, 33 strikes.

"I thought Wade threw the ball really well in the first two innings. He got the ball up a little bit in his third, but I thought his stuff was really good and really crisp," Yost said.

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