PHOENIX -- Suspicions confirmed: Bruce Chen figures to be the fifth man in the Royals' pitching rotation.
Manager Ned Yost indicated that would be the case when the season begins. Earlier, he'd said that James Shields would start on Opening Day March 31, that Jason Vargas would go in the second game at Detroit and that Jeremy Guthrie would start the home opener on April 4 against the White Sox. That's the fourth game of the season.
That left the third and fifth games open. But if Chen started the third game, he would follow Vargas and that would give the Tigers successive games against similar left-handers.
"I generally don't want two like pitchers pitching back-to-back so if you've got two guys that are command lefties, I don't really want to give you a good look at Vargas and a good look at Chen," Yost said.
So that means Chen probably will start the fifth game against the White Sox and either Yordano Ventura or Danny Duffy, the remaining candidates for the remaining rotation spot, would go in the third game against the Tigers. Although Duffy is also a lefty, his velocity and style offers enough contrast with Vargas to start successive games. If Ventura wins the job, that would give the Royals a right-left-right-right-left sequence in the rotation.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.