SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Statistically at least, Round 1 of the Bruce Chen-Luke Hochevar battle for the Royals' fifth starting job goes to Chen.
Chen reeled off two perfect innings in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Brewers. Hochevar gave up two runs on three walks and one hit in two innings. Each notched two strikeouts.
Manager Ned Yost, however, expressed appreciation for both pitchers in their first outings of the Cactus League season.
"I thought Hoch's stuff was dynamic; he struggled with command, which is pretty consistent most of the time for the first outing of the spring," Yost said. "I thought Bruce was extremely sharp. I was happy with what I saw out of both of them."
Hochevar started and, like Chen, threw to backup catcher George Kottaras. His control problems came with his two-seam fastball.
"I was pleased with my four-seam command, I was pleased with my curveball and I mixed in four or five changeups," Hochevar said. "That was really the first time that I threw my two-seamer quite a bit … and it was sinking below the zone, but it was the action I wanted. That was the pitch I fell behind with a little bit and that I wasn't commanding that much, but that's a feel pitch, and that'll come."
Chen, though, said he had command of all his pitches. He used 28 pitches, 10 fewer than Hochevar.
"I felt George did a really good job for the first time catching me in a game and calling the game," Chen said. "I worked very hard in the offseason, and I wanted to make sure that I came here to camp and help this team in any way I could. I think I made some adjustments; I think me, Dave [Eiland, pitching coach] and all the coaches have been working on getting the ball down, and I think it's working."
Johnson leaves game after turning double play
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals shortstop Elliot Johnson played just one inning before being pulled from Wednesday's game with a bruised shin.
A sliding Carlos Gomez crashed into Johnson as Johnson made a pivoting throw to first baseman Max Ramirez to complete a double play.
"He's fine, it was more of a precautionary thing," manager Ned Yost said. "He was fighting to stay in the game, but this early, let's get some ice on it."
Royals benefiting from Ramirez's hot bat
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Make it six RBIs in just nine at-bats for Royals first baseman Max Ramirez. He singled home the winning run in a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Wednesday.
Ramirez also made a diving stop at first base in the ninth inning to help seal the victory. A catcher, he has played just 44 games at first in regular-season games in the Majors and Minors.
"Max has done a really nice job at first base every time we put him over there," manager Ned Yost said.
Ramirez accounted for four of his RBIs with a grand slam. His game-winner Wednesday came off Santo Manzanillo.
"I got a fastball, middle in, and I stayed behind the ball and hit it through middle," Ramirez said. "He threw me a fastball the pitch before, and I missed it. He's got a good fastball, and I had to be ready for that fastball again, and he threw it again."
Joseph off to good start for Royals
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost has to laugh when he talks about left-handed pitcher Donnie Joseph.
"Dusty Baker told me numerous times, every time I see him: 'I didn't want to get rid of Donnie Joseph!' And I'd say, 'You know, Dusty, I didn't want to get rid of Broxton, either,'" Yost said.
Baker, the Cincinnati manager, was referring to last July's deal that sent Joseph and right-hander J.C. Sulbaran to Kansas City in exchange for Jonathan Broxton, then the Royals' closer.
Joseph, the Royals' No. 7 prospect, has become a topic of conversation because he has struck out all six batters he's faced in two Cactus League games. This, of course, is his first time in the Royals' Major League camp.
"The thing you want to do when you come into Spring Training for the first time, is you want to make an impression," Yost said. "Because, as fair or as unfair as it is, first impressions last -- they really do."
It doesn't get any better than six batters faced, six struck out.
After coming over from the Reds' Louisville club last year, Joseph pitched in 11 games for Omaha with a 1-0 record and a 4.15 ERA. In 17 1/3 innings of relief, he struck out 19 but also walked 13.
"He's got great stuff; at times command can get a little all over the place, but he has not exhibited that here in these games," Yost said. "But you never know when it's going to click. When [Greg] Holland got here, his first year, he was all over the place, and that was his deal. He had a great stuff, but he was all over the place. He went to winter ball, bam, he came back the next year and was a strike-throwing machine. What clicked? I don't know. Something clicked."
Holland, now the Royals' closer, will make his Cactus League debut Friday against Cincinnati. Joseph will also throw for the Royals, and, yes, Broxton is scheduled to pitch for the Reds.
Yost believes Royals ready for Classic
SURPRISE -- Seven Royals players are scheduled to leave camp Sunday to report to their World Baseball Classic teams, and manager Ned Yost believes they will be well-prepared.
The departing players include four pitchers -- Tim Collins (USA), Luis Mendoza (Mexico) and Kelvin Herrera and Atahualpa Severino (Dominican Republic) -- as well as catcher Salvador Perez (Venezuela) and infielders Irving Falu (Puerto Rico) and Miguel Tejada (Dominican).
"Collins will have three outings by the time he leaves," Yost said. "Mendoza will pitch Sunday, three more innings, to prepare him. Severino and Herrera will have three outings. Sal, Tejada and Falu will have numerous innings and at-bats under their belts, so they're going to be ready to go."
In addition, Minor League outfielder Paulo Orlando is on the Brazil roster.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.