SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A familiar face, Aaron Guiel, is back in Royals camp on the Minor League side.
"I have a player-coach contract, with the emphasis on coach," Guiel said. "They allowed me to do this so I could get back into the fold again, because ultimately, I want to get into the coaching side of things."
Guiel, a genial blond-haired outfielder, spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Royals, 2002-06, reaching the Majors after nearly a decade in the Minors. The Royals plucked him from the obscurity of Oaxaca in the Mexican League in 2000 (he had 22 homers and a .365 average in 56 games), and he did well enough at Triple-A Omaha to win his way to Kansas City.
In 2006, the Yankees claimed him on waivers from the Royals, and he spent half of that season with New York. Then came five years with the Yakult Swallows in Tokyo, where he was called "Angel" and hit 35 homers in 2007 and 27 in '09. Injuries cut into his last two seasons, and at 39, he's back home.
"When you go to Japan, you feel like you're out of sight, out of mind," Guiel said. "So I finished playing in October. This last year was quite a tough year for me, because I had back surgery 12 months ago. My body wasn't healing the way it was, so in midsummer, I realized that this was probably going to be my last year, so I just started making calls to different guys to see what opportunity might be out there."
General manager Dayton Moore signed him to a Royals contract to see how he might fit into the organization.
"No pressure. The teams have their staff," Guiel said. "I can just move around and learn from the guys that are in charge of those teams. There's a different style of coaching that [Omaha manager Mike] Jirschele will do with the older guys than somebody will do in [Rookie level] Burlington. I'll have to learn how to do that, but I'm excited about it."
Guiel can draw from the experience gained in 2,026 games played over 19 years in the Minors, Majors and Japan.
Hochevar pleased with his spring debut
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Luke Hochevar, with two scoreless innings in the Royals' 7-4 win over the Padres on Tuesday, came away very satisfied.
"My focus was to go out and execute quality pitches -- just get in that frame of mind, just execute one pitch at a time, regardless of what the pitch is," Hochevar said. "So I felt for the most part that I did that."
A special project is his changeup, and he focused on that pitch in his second inning during which he pitched around a walk and a single.
"It's come a long way, it really has," he said. "I've been playing with a lot of different grips and I've been talking to Dave [Eiland, pitching coach], and I think we found one that I feel comfortable with, that I don't have to think about it. I can just cut it loose and let it work and that's when your changeup is the best."
Odorizzi rattled in first big league game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jake Odorizzi, one of the Royals' top pitching prospects, got his initiation into the Major Leagues on Tuesday and found it somewhat unnerving.
Called in to pitch two innings against the Padres, Odorizzi got through the third inning unscathed, but gave up four singles and two runs in the fourth.
"Just being in my first big league game, I was pretty nervous. My hand was shaking a bit," Odorizzi said. "I was a little too overexcited, but the first inning went really well. My second inning, my command just slipped a little, and I couldn't throw my curveball for a strike and that hurt me a little bit. Typically, my command is better than that."
The runs scored on a single by Jeremy Hermida and James Darnell's sacrifice fly. Before ending the inning, Odorizzi was touched for two more hits.
His nerves kept jangling.
"Not an excuse by any means, but it didn't help me out that I couldn't throw my curveball for a strike so they were keying on my fastball," Odorizzi said. "The hits they did get in the second inning, I threw the fastball where I wanted to, but they knew a fastball was coming and they just hit it where it was pitched and things didn't go my way. A couple of those go in a different direction -- out of the inning, no runs."
Odorizzi was just happy to get his first exposure of the Majors over with.
"It didn't go as well as I wanted to obviously, but I learned a lot of things and that's all that matters -- learn and take it to the next one," he said. "So I'm happy I can learn and make improvements."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.