02/28/08 10:53 AM ET
Notes: Hochevar pitches through flu
Rookie works through two innings, then works through bug
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
No, he wasn't overly excited about his 2008 debut for the Royals on Wednesday. Blame it on a return visit from the flu which has been bugging the team this spring.
"I had that flu kick back in. After I broke my fever yesterday, I felt good. But today I felt bad, real bad," he said. "I even got sick in the dugout."
Hochevar pitched the third and fourth innings in a 6-1 loss to the Texas Rangers in the Cactus League opener. Six up, six down and not a ball got out of the infield.
"It's something that I realized last year," he said. "That the defense behind me in the big leagues is unbelievable, so it'd be stupid if I went out there thinking I was going to go get these guys out myself.
"I'm better off being aggressive in the strike zone and do some contact and letting those guys play."
Hochevar figured he was OK to pitch despite not feeling up to par.
"I just thought it was one of those groggy days getting over sickness and I didn't think it was that bad," he said. "But now I feel a ton better."
Yep, sometimes up-chucking is the best remedy.
Opening with an 'L':Trey Hillman's Royals managing career began with a loss.
"Their first three runs came after two were out so, obviously, we've got to do a better job of shutting down an inning defensively, specifically on the mound," Hillman said. "We didn't have a whole lot of well-struck balls today."
"It's obviously not the start we wanted to get off to in Spring Training games, but it's the start we got off to nonetheless and it gives us a little bit of a gauge of the things we've got to get better at."
The Royals had six hits, and the longest blow was a ground-rule double to center field by Justin Huber.
"I thought it might carry further in this light air and when I rounded first base I saw it on the other side of the fence, so I wasn't sure," Huber said. "Then the umpire said it bounced over."
Starting with strikeouts: Royals left-hander John Bale struck out three straight batters in the first inning, then gave up two doubles and a run in the second.
Marlon Byrd led off the second inning with a double, but Bale got two outs before David Murphy, a left-handed batter, pounded a double to right-center field.
"Second inning, with a man on second, I got two outs on pop-ups and then I had that lefty-lefty matchup there and I've got to do a better job on that," Bale said. "I just threw a fastball down the middle trying to get back even."
Yabuta's U.S. debut: With a bevy of Japanese journalists on hand, reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta had a rough eighth inning in his first game for the Royals.
He gave up two runs on three hits and walked the bases full when he touched his mouth on the mound for an automatic ball four.
"He got himself in trouble getting behind in the count," Hillman said. "I'm sure there was a lot of emotion going on inside with it being his first outing and wanting to do well, especially with the coverage back to his home country. He probably threw a little too much in the bullpen for his first outing."
Two other pitchers also had problems. Brian Lawrence gave up two runs on a walk and two doubles in the fifth. Ron Mahay surrendered a solo home run to catcher Taylor Teagarden in the seventh.
Although it didn't count in the box score, the teams tacked on a bottom of the ninth to get Royals rookie Carlos Rosa some work. He threw a perfect inning with an impressive fastball.
Intrasquad on Thursday: The Royals don't have a Cactus League game but they'll play an intrasquad game early Thursday afternoon.
Regular rules will prevail.
"We won't have any controlled, simulated game situations that you've seen before," Hillman said.
Three more signed: Only five players on the 40-man roster remained unsigned after the Royals announced that outfielder Shane Costa and infielders Angel Sanchez and Alberto Callaspo agreed to contract terms.
Still unsigned are Brian Bannister, Billy Butler, Joey Gathright, Alex Gordon and Ryan Shealy.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.