PEORIA, Ariz. -- Yuniesky Betancourt has put himself in the running for the Royals' second-base job, along with Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz.
Betancourt started at second base in Saturday night's game against the Padres for further evaluation.
Could Betancourt be at second base on Opening Day?
"There's always that chance," manager Ned Yost said, adding: "He's played extremely well defensively over there. In order for our pitching to get better, we need to have a solid defense behind them."
When Spring Training began, the offensively-strong Giavotella was considered a tad ahead of the defensively-strong Getz. "Gio's still a work in progress defensively, but he works his tail off over there," Yost said. Now, Yost has gotten his first look at Betancourt as a second baseman, the position he played in Cuba before defecting to the U.S.
"Yuni's come in and looked phenomenal at second, Getzy's a different player than he was last year, I mean a totally different player [offensively]," Yost said. "It's going to be a tough call there because all three of them are neck and neck."
Chen rights things after rough beginning
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Bruce Chen was pounded for five runs in the first inning of Saturday night's 8-5 loss to the Padres, which clearly made him unhappy. But he made adjustments and made an about-face with two scoreless innings.
"Obviously, I was trying to be more aggressive," Chen said. "Pitch in a little more, sink the ball a little more, use my offspeed pitches early in the count and get them off my fastball. I was just trying to make some good pitches, because today there were some tough conditions and I didn't want to leave anything up"
The wind was blowing out toward left field, which might have helped Jonathan Galvez's two-run homer off the left-hander. But there were also three singles and a hit batsman, as Chen faced all nine batters in the first.
Chen, despite an 11.74 ERA in three starts, looked to the positive side.
"I feel like my command is really good, I haven't walked anyone," said Chen. "My arm feels great. My stamina is good -- I threw 60-some pitches. ... I feel very strong. Right now, I'm not making pitches, so I have to work on keeping the ball down and making better pitches.
"Obviously, I'm not pitching the way I want to. I don't want my teammates or the fans or the organization to feel like I'm taking this lightly. I'm a professional. I worked very hard in the offseason. I don't take anything for granted. This is Spring Training and I'm here to compete. I'm glad that I still have three or four more games to pitch, and I'm going to keep making adjustments. ... I'm just going to keep getting better and be ready when the season starts."
Wood exits with elbow problem
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Royals reliever Blake Wood left the eighth inning of Saturday night's loss to the Padres with an elbow problem.
The right-hander got one out and then walked three straight batters. Wood had a 1-2 count on Jedd Gyorko when he was taken out by manager Ned Yost.
"He just started to develop some elbow tightness," Yost said. "He was throwing the ball great, and I just saw him kind of wince out there and he said he could feel it on his last couple pitches. And it was getting progressively worse, so I just got him out of there."
Wood will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
The three batters he walked all scored against reliever Zach Miner to break a 5-5 tie and give the Padres an 8-5 victory.
Pena makes costly baserunning error
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two runners at third base proved one too many, costing the Royals the first out of the third inning on Saturday night.
Brayan Pena and Alcides Escobar each singled, and were at first and second when Alex Gordon hit a long drive to center field. It fell for a hit, but Pena, fearing a catch, tagged up at second and was still at third when Escobar caught up with him. So Pena started for home, but the Padres got him out in a rundown.
"Brayan misread the ball. It got caught up in the wind and he went all the back to tag, which really wasn't the right thing to do. Esky read it right, it was just a bad read by Brayan," manager Ned Yost said.
Gordon got credit for only a single on what should have been a double. The Royals, though, went on to score two runs in the inning.
Royals have not invited Pudge to camp
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Royals have not invited catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez to camp, a team official said emphatically on Saturday.
Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com reported that the Royals had made an offer to Rodriguez, 40, the 13-time Gold Glove Award winner, who is a free agent. The Royals official did not deny the Royals have been in touch with Rodriguez's representatives, but noted they've been in contact with many clubs and agents in the catching search that was triggered by Salvador Perez's knee surgery.
"Like any team in our situation, you explore all your options -- and that's what we're doing," said general manager Dayton Moore.
Because of Rodriguez's notoriety, Moore understands the public's interest in him.
"I just think there's a lot of speculation on that," Moore said. "But I wouldn't comment on any specific player. We're just looking at all our options."
The Royals' search for someone to pair with Brayan Pena is ongoing, but making a trade for a catcher appears to be difficult.
"It's a very unconventional time of the year for clubs to part with catching -- even if they have excess catching -- just because of the nature of what happened to us," Moore said. "We're just going to evaluate what we have internally, and we'll make a determination at some point whether [we] can upgrade or need to upgrade."
Triple-A catchers Cody Clark and Max Ramirez give the Royals in-house options.
"They're both still in the mix," Yost said.
Given Yost's known preference for a strong defensive catcher, Clark might hold an edge over the better-hitting Ramirez.
"[Clark] is a good catch-and-throw guy, understands how to call a game, works well with pitchers, retains all the things you want a backup catcher to do," Yost said. "He'll put the ball in play, get you a hit now and then. You can play some situational baseball with him offensively."
Clark has also been in the Royals' organization for several years and has caught most of the current pitching staff.
Meanwhile, Perez returned to Surprise, Ariz., on Friday night after his surgery that morning in Los Angeles and started his rehabilitation process at the Royals' camp on Saturday.
"He said he felt good. He was Sal -- happy, smile on his face, he was Sal." Yost said.
Team set for off-day on Monday
PEORIA, Ariz. -- After games on Saturday night against the Padres and on Sunday against the Indians, the Royals are due for their only day off on Monday.
Left-handed pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Everett Teaford, though, will be working. They'll pitch in Minor League games to get in their innings.
Weather permitting, that is. Rain was in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.
Royals break out green caps on Saturday
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Like many clubs on St. Patrick's Day, the Royals wore green caps in their game on Saturday night against the Padres.
The St. Paddy's event came on the 41st day that manager Ned Yost has been in camp. No days off in there for the skipper.
No wonder when someone asked Yost if he was Irish, his reply was simply: "I'm tired."
Maybe he meant "O'tired."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.