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George holds his own in first start
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04/20/2002 02:05 am ET 
George holds his own in first start
By Robert Falkoff /

Chris George allowed five hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings Friday night. (Ed Zurga/AP)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Royals lost a ballgame Friday night, but they may have found a starting pitcher.

Left-hander Chris George, rushed back from Triple-A Omaha in an emergency situation, looked like he belonged in the Major Leagues as he battled Pedro Martinez pitch for pitch. Although George was ultimately upstaged by Martinez, who threw a one-hitter through eight innings, the 22-year-old Royals' pitcher now feels like he has a firm foundation on which to build.

In Boston's 4-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium, George allowed five hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. He left in a scoreless game in the sixth as Boston put two on with one out. When reliever Blake Stein couldn't get out of the inning unscathed, George picked up a tough-luck loss.

"I feel real confident in my mechanics right now," George said. "In Spring Training, I didn't."

George was rocked three times by the Houston Astros in Spring Training and that cost him a trip to Kauffman Stadium for Opening Day. Although he didn't break camp with the Royals, George stayed positive and didn't fall into a pouting mode.

With Chad Durbin's demotion and Darrell May's groin injury, George got another Big League chance Friday and he wasn't about to squander the opportunity.

"Of all the games he pitched for us last year and in Spring Training this year, that's the best Chris has kept his pitches down," Royals manager Tony Muser said.

Muser drew boos from the crowd when he lifted George in a 0-0 game. Manny Ramirez was at the plate with runners at first and second and one down. George, working on three days rest, had thrown 86 pitches.

"I think he was trying to protect me, which I can understand. It's one of those decisions that didn't happen to work out for us tonight, but I'm not second-guessing it."

Asked if he thought about leaving George in at that point, Muser said: "That's the emotional side, not the practical side. The plan was around 90 pitches. Chris did everything we asked him to do. We stayed with the plan. We weren't going to abuse him. I don't think that's how you handle young pitchers."

Stein got Ramirez on a liner to right, but then walked Tony Clark after getting ahead 0-2. With the bases loaded, Stein again got ahead 0-2 on Shea Hillenbrand. But Hillenbrand worked the count full before drilling a three-run triple to right-center.

George wasn't questioning the manager's decision to lift him in the sixth.

"I think he was trying to protect me, which I can understand," George said. "It's one of those decisions that didn't happen to work out for us tonight, but I'm not second-guessing it. I still felt pretty good, but I had kind of a funny schedule down in Omaha. With the chance that I would start this game, I worked my last Omaha game out of the bullpen and didn't have my full allotment of rest."

George had been working with Omaha pitching coach John Cumberland on refining his mechanics.

"I've concentrated on staying back at the top of my delivery and giving my arm a chance to catch up," George said.

Even the masterful Martinez appreciated George's effort in defeat.

"That kid has some talent," Martinez said. "It shows me something, the way he approaches the game and how poised he was."

Ramirez ripped a line drive off the back of George's left thigh in the fourth, but George stayed in the game and kept delivering scoreless innings. Muser stopped short of saying George will definitely get another start.

"He probably earned it," Muser said. "We'll see. I'll talk with (GM) Allard Baird. "

Surgery for Berroa
Royals' prize shortstop prospect Angel Berroa, who recently suffered a knee injury while playing for Triple-A Omaha, said Friday night he is scheduled to have knee surgery Thursday that will sideline him four to six weeks.

Berroa said he expects the surgical procedure to go smoothly.

"It's the simple kind," Berroa said.

Berroa is considered the Royals' shortstop of the future.

Royals notes
Veteran right-hander Bryan Rekar will be activated Saturday morning before his scheduled start against the Red Sox. The Royals will have to clear a space on their 25-man roster and also on their 40-man roster.

OF Chuck Knoblauch and 3B Joe Randa, both bothered by sore legs, sat out Friday's game. Knoblauch said he began having problems after a Monday workout on the Metrodome carpet. He got through the first two games of the Minnesota series and was given a day off Thursday. "I'll be back in there (Saturday)," Knoblauch said. "I really don't want to miss two games in a row. I don't like it, but it's a good thing." Randa, who felt hamstring tightness Wednesday night, said he hopes to be back in the lineup Saturday.

    Roberto Hernandez   /   P
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 250
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Phillies site

Closer Roberto Hernandez, on the disabled list with a sore elbow, threw 15 pitches off the mound Friday and is scheduled to throw again Sunday. "He's getting real frustrated, wants more rope," Royals manager Tony Muser said. "We're still in April. I don't want to slam down on the accelerator."

Muser said left-hander Darrell May, recovering from a strained left groin, could be in line to return for a start on April 29 or April 30.

OF Mark Quinn, on a rehabilitation program after recovering from a cracked rib, will play for Triple-A Omaha Monday night. General Manager Allard Baird said there's no timetable for how long Quinn might play for Omaha before reporting to the Royals. "We'll see where he is and how he performs," Baird said.

Robert Falkoff covers the Royals for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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