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03/15/12 2:00 AM ET

Pena ready to step up in Perez's absence

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals catcher Brayan Pena said his heart went out to Salvador Perez, his friend and fellow backstop, but also emphasized that he was prepared to run the pitching staff while Perez recovers from an injured knee.

"I knew from the beginning that this was his team, and I was ready to back him up," Pena said. "It's unfortunate that this injury happened, but me personally, I'm ready. I feel I know these guys on our pitching staff. I've been working with them the last couple of years, and I feel right now that we're going to be very good. With our bullpen and [Bruce] Chen, [Luke] Hochevar and [Jonathan] Sanchez, I think we're going to be good and we'll try to hold on until the big man comes back."

Pena was supposed to be the backup for Perez, one of last year's rookie sensations, but the situation changed with the announcement on Wednesday that Perez would undergo knee surgery.

Pena is an energetic, enthusiastic athlete.

"Every time I get to the field and see my name in the lineup, I'm thinking about how can I make my team better?" Pena said. "How can I help my team to win? And that's been part of my game plan from the get-go."

He's been working closely with catching coach Chino Cadahia and advisor Jason Kendall.

"My main goal is to make sure our pitchers feel comfortable and feel that they can trust me," Pena said.

He's got the endorsement of general manager Dayton Moore.

"Brayan Pena has emerged as someone who is better than just a backup. He gives you good at-bats and a lot of energy. We felt we had a real good catching tandem with Salvy and Brayan as it was," Moore said. "Right now Brayan Pena is the guy, but we need to come up with somebody to go with him."

Moore is in the market for catching, but Chen has pitched to Pena frequently in the last two years and feels he can do the job.

"Obviously, Salvador is very big component and him getting hurt is going to put our team in a tough position," Chen said. "But Brayan Pena can step in and do the job until Salvador comes back. From what I heard, he's going to miss some time but it's not going to be three or four months. Salvador is a big part of our team but if anybody can step in, Brayan can do the job."

Crow learns from mixed results

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was a split decision on Wednesday night for Royals pitcher Aaron Crow, according to referee Aaron Crow. Two good innings, two not so good.

"The first two innings couldn't have gone any better. The third was kind of shaky, but I didn't give up any runs," Crow said. "The fourth one I can't get behind a guy like Ichiro [Suzuki, who singled] and then walk a guy. You get guys on first and second, and you're definitely going to give up a run in that situation. Something I'll learn from and get better."

Crow, an All-Star reliever last year and trying for a starting role this year, was charged with two runs in a 6-2 loss to the Mariners. He left the fourth inning with two on and no outs and reliever Brandon Sisk gave up two run-scoring hits.

"I didn't feel tired, really at all, but I was just missing with my fastball. It wasn't like I was missing close; some of those pitches weren't even close to the strike zone," Crow said.

Felipe Paulino, also bidding for a rotation spot, finished the game with three innings and was charged with four runs on four hits and two walks.

"I thought Paulino just never got on track," manager Ned Yost said. "He did a better job of keeping the ball down tonight but just really never got in sync."

Injured Perez a loss to clubhouse as well

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals teammates appreciate Salvador Perez's glove behind the plate, but they also love the injured catcher's attitude in the clubhouse.

"Salvador is a huge loss because he's really great behind the plate," pitcher Danny Duffy said, "but we really have a great catcher in Brayan Pena and hopefully both Salvy and Manny [Pina] both heal up really quickly.

"Salvy carries a great attitude. I asked him what was wrong with him today and he told me, but he told me through a smile, so he's got a great, positive attitude and he's going to get through it really fast. He'll be back and stronger than ever before we know it."

Third baseman Mike Moustakas got a scare on Monday when he was struck by a pitch in his knee, but he was only bruised. Perez wasn't so lucky.

"We'll see what happens, but any time we lose a guy like that for any amount of time, it's tough -- especially with his ability to play defense," Moustakas said. "And especially when we lose a guy like Salvy -- not just his ability to play baseball but his ability in the clubhouse to keep things light. He's such a great kid, such a great guy to be around."

Pitcher Luke Hochevar has been one of Perez's biggest boosters since the catcher arrived on Aug. 10.

"Luckily, it's not a season-ending injury, and I don't know the exact time for somebody injured like that -- 4-6 weeks, I don't know -- but it's not going to be long so that's good," Hochevar said. "But I know that's not what Salvy wants to have happen. I know he wants to be out there as bad as everybody wants him to be out there. That's just a raw deal, and it stinks."

Without a doubt, the injury was a downer for the team, but left fielder Alex Gordon feels that the Royals can overcome it.

"It's going to affect the team, of course, but I think every team every year goes through some kind of injuries so that's why you try to build your team with depth so if someone goes down, someone is going to step up," Gordon said. "I don't know the timetable but I hope he can get back as soon as he's ready."

There's no timetable for Perez's return because the extent of the damage to the meniscus in his knee won't be known until the surgeons operate. Pina, who also suffered a meniscus tear in his knee and underwent surgery on Feb. 27, knows what his timetable is, however.

"They told me to be ready for games 100 percent, it'd be 12 weeks," Pina said.

The similar injuries to the two catchers seemed curious to Pina.

"It's hard to believe, two catchers, both Venezuelan guys, now we're hurt together," Pina said. "Both with meniscus."

Max Ramirez, a non-roster catcher, might figure into the picture but he felt sympathy for his countrymen.

"It's pretty bad with what happened with these guys. I know Pina and Salvador from back in Venezuela -- great guys," Ramirez said. "It's bad, but I'll keep working and see what happens."

Pena says Tweet wasn't his

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For a while on Wednesday morning, there was a report circulating that Salvador Perez was headed back to Kansas City because of his knee injury.

That originated from a Twitter message under his name in which he also thanked fans for their support. Asked about it later in the day, Perez said the tweet wasn't his.

"It was somebody that probably hijacked my Twitter account and they sent that out. I was in my hotel and didn't know anything about that," he said.

As of Wednesday night, Perez was still in Arizona with the time and place of his knee surgery uncertain.

Royals cut 11 from in-camp roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Mike Montgomery, who made a late run at making the Royals' pitching staff last March, was one of the first 11 players cut this year.

The moves, announced on Wednesday, will be effective on Thursday, reducing the in-camp roster to 46 players.

Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi, a promising right-hander, were among eight players reassigned to the Minor League camp. The others were left-handed pitchers Chris Dwyer, Brandon Sisk and Will Smith, catcher Julio Rodriguez and outfielders Wil Myers and Paulo Orlando.

The Royals also assigned two pitchers, right-hander Nate Adcock and left-hander Ryan Verdugo, to Triple-A Omaha and another lefty, Noel Arguelles, to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Montgomery appeared in two Cactus League games and gave up six runs on six hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings. After his impressive spring last year, he struggled with a 5-11 record and 5.32 ERA for Omaha.

"It was a struggle for him this year," manager Ned Yost said. "He didn't command the ball. We wanted to see him come in and command the ball and really compete for one of these spots and it just never developed. We want him to go back and get his innings. He's a guy that we think can help us sometime over the course of the year but that's up to his performance."

Odorizzi, a product of the Zack Greinke deal with Milwaukee, made two appearances in Arizona. He gave up two runs in two innings in his first game but rebounded nicely with two scoreless innings the next time.

Myers, a highly regarded outfield prospect, hit .313 (5-for-16) in nine games.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.