3/7/2014 7:23 P.M. ET
With Hochevar out, race for No. 5 starter heats up
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Now that Luke Hochevar is headed for surgery, the battle for the Royals' fifth spot in the starting rotation is down to Danny Duffy, Wade Davis and Yordano Ventura.
There were indications earlier that whoever lost out in that competition might be placed in the bullpen. But general manager Dayton Moore has another opinion.
"If Duffy or Ventura did not win a spot in the rotation, I would prefer one of them being in Omaha over 162 games," Moore said on Friday.
"I would be open to a debate as an organization if we had to put one of them or maybe even both in the bullpen. But I think it's a long shot to have both of them in the 'pen. We would prefer to have one of those talented pitchers, who is definitely part of our future, pitching in the rotation somewhere."
However, it sounds like Davis could wind up the bullpen if he isn't the fifth starter. But Duffy or Ventura could be headed for Triple-A.
Ventura and Davis each pitched three innings in Friday's 5-0 loss to the Giants.
Ventura gave up two runs on three hits, throwing 26 of 41 pitches for strikes.
"He's still kind of struggling to get the feel for his secondary pitches for strikes, his curveball and his changeup," manager Ned Yost said. "It's early and pitchers develop a feel for that as they go along."
Davis had three strikeouts and surrendered two hits including Hunter Pence's solo homer. He threw 48 pitches, 33 strikes.
"I thought Wade threw the ball really well in the first two innings. He got the ball up a little bit in his third, but I thought his stuff was really good and really crisp," Yost said.
Moustakas gets work in Royals 'B' game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- As it turned out, the Royals were shut out twice on Friday. Before their 5-0 loss to the Giants, they lost a five-inning "B" game to the Rangers, 3-0.
Although hot-hitting Mike Moustakas was supposed to have the day off, he lobbied manager Ned Yost for a chance to take some swings as the designated hitter in the "B" game.
"Moose, true to form this year, wants to work on his two-strike approach live. So today was his day off so Pete [hitting coach Pedro Grifol] said, 'Let's get him in the "B" and get him a couple of at-bats and he can work on his two-strike approach.' "
Moustakas, by doing a little lineup shuffling, got in four trips to the plate and went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Nothing like his .438 (7-for-16) outburst so far in "A" games, but he got some work done.
"He never stops working," Yost said. "That kid goes, goes, goes."
Pedro Ciriaco and Brandon Laird had the Royals' only hits. Ramon Hernandez, a catcher who's been out with a knee injury, played first base and went 0-for-2. Closer Greg Holland pitched one scoreless inning.
Santana's return to KC still seems unlikely
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Former Royals pitcher Ervin Santana is still on the open market and is still talking to clubs -- including the Royals.
But, slow down, there seems to be no indication that Santana will end up back in royal blue.
"We actually spoke today, I'll be very candid with you," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Friday, "and I don't think it's going to be anything we can work with."
Moore acknowledged that he chatted with Santana's representative, Jay Alou.
"Nothing's changed on our end," Moore said.
So Santana is still not a fit for the Royals?
"I think right now it's probably not," Moore said.
In camp on Minors deal, Penny released
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brad Penny, attempting a comeback with the Royals, was released on Friday.
Penny was hammered for four runs on eight hits in two innings on Thursday during a 6-6 tie with the White Sox. He was tagged for a two-run homer by first baseman Jose Abreu.
"He came in and worked his tail off, but with the way some of these young guys were throwing, there just wasn't a spot on the Major League club for him," manager Ned Yost said. "We're still hoping that he can have enough time to hook on with another club and compete."
However, the veteran right-hander reportedly left camp with a broken left hand, apparently the result of punching an immovable object in frustration after his poor outing against the White Sox.
In two Cactus League outings, Penny surrendered 13 hits, a walk and seven runs.
Penny, 35, had been in camp on a Minor League deal after sitting out all of last season. Prior to taking off 2013, Penny had racked up a 119-100 record and two All-Star appearances over 13 big league seasons.
Penny said a tired right arm influenced his decision not to pitch last year, but he decided earlier this year that he was ready to make a comeback attempt.
"Last year, I sat out and it's something I've never done. I had all summer to myself for the first time since high school," Penny said in January after signing with the Royals. "At the same time, it's fun, but your mind drifts back and you miss that competition. I think right now if I wait any longer, I'm not going to be able to do it again so why not try?"
Penny made his Major League debut in 2000 and spent the first 4 1/2 seasons of his career with the Marlins. He played a vital role in the Marlins' championship season in 2003, going 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two World Series starts. He then spent the next 4 1/2 years with the Dodgers before splitting the following four seasons among the Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals and Tigers.
Penny last pitched at the big league level in 2012, going 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA in 22 relief appearances for the Giants. His last work as a starter came a season earlier, when he went 11-11 with a 5.30 ERA in 31 starts with the Tigers.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.