Do not, and I mean DO NOT, panic about Bruce Chen’s performance Tuesday night in the Royals’ 9-6 loss to the Mariners. More bewildering has been Chen’s rather strong performance all spring.
As manager Ned Yost has said often: "You cannot evaluate Bruce in spring training. He is a regular-season pitcher."
Chen traditionally has put up awful numbers in spring, and while he has been solid in the spring of 2014, his last spring training start was a disaster — eight earned runs in four innings.
As I said, it’s only spring training.
NORICHIKA AOKI: I love the way Aoki works the count and slashes at the ball — the type of stuff that drives opposing pitchers crazy. In the bottom of the first, Aoki got ahead in the count 3-1 and then slashed a grounder between third and short for a hit. He also laced an RBI double down the left-field line in the fifth.
ERIC HOSMER: I like the fact it’s only spring training and the Hoz is taking matters quite seriously. Hoz took a called third strike in the first, a pitch that was clearly inside, and he gave the home-plate umpire some grief. He later got called out on another strike three that was more borderline on the outside corner, and he popped off again to the ump and got thrown out. I like the spirit.
JOEL GOLDBERG: Loved the in-game interview Joel did with James Shields in which Shields described Yordano Ventura as "one for the ages." Shields also described Ventura as the next "Nolan Ryan." Nice.
ALCIDES ESCOBAR HITTING SECOND: OK, it’s really becoming more clear each day that second baseman Omar Infante will start the season on the disabled list. But does that really give Yost more reason to insert Esky into the No. 2 spot in the order (where Infante normally would be)? Esky hit there again Tuesday and there’s good reason to believe Ned will go with that while Infante is out even though history tells us that Esky is awful in the No. 2 spot (.240 average, .270 on-base) as opposed to the No. 9 spot (.282 average, .297 on-base).
PEDRO: As Opening Day draws near and the Royals continue to suggest Infante won’t be on the disabled list (ha!), we’re looking more and more like Pedro Ciriaco will start the season at second base over Johnny Giavotella (who was just optioned) and Jason Donald (not on 40-man roster) and Danny Valencia (not quite ready for everyday duty). Ciriaco, who is out of options, might be blowing his chances — he tried to make a play on a high chopper Tuesday with the bases loaded and one out, and wound up throwing the ball away, allowing an extra run to score. Do that in the regular season and I can guarantee you Donald will have that spot.
LORENZO CAIN: Cain went a soft 1 for 4 Tuesday, and while his spring training average is a healthy .370, he has not gone deep in the thin desert air. The Royals really need Cain to become the 15-20-homer guy they envisioned when they made the Zack Greinke trade, and he hasn’t come close to those expectations since.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.