Ramirez homers twice in win vs. Padres
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Luke Hochevar has come to grips with a new changeup that could be a big pitch for him this season.
Hochevar, the first player picked in the 2006 draft, unveiled his different changeup in two scoreless innings Tuesday as a Kansas City split squad beat the San Diego Padres 7-4. Max Ramirez homered twice and drove in four runs for the Royals.
After throwing eight strikes in 10 pitches in a spotless first inning, Hochevar gave up a single and walked one in a 19-pitch second inning.
"My mindset is use all my pitches and in a two-inning span I'm trying to find ways to use everything," Hochevar said. "In the second, I tried to find ways to work on my changeup especially. That's a focus point of mine this spring and granted results are going to come after. I was creating situations to use it."
Hochevar has been working with new pitching coach Dave Eiland to create an improved changeup.
"It's come a long way," Hochevar said. "I've been playing with a lot of different grips. I've been talking with Dave and I think I've found one I'm comfortable with, that I don't have to think about, I can just cut it loose and let it work on its own. That's when your changeup is the best. It's such a feel pitch. I found a grip I can let it rip."
Manager Ned Yost said he "very impressed with Hoch's first outing."
Tim Stauffer, the Padres' opening day starter last season, allowed one run and two hits in two innings.
Stauffer gave up singles to Jarrod Dyson and Johnny Giavotella to start the first inning and Jeff Francoeur had a sacrifice fly. Dyson's hit was a bunt that Stauffer fielded, but his throw was slightly off target.
"That was not my best throw," Stauffer said. "I had a tough angle."
Padres manager Buddy Black was encouraged by Stauffer's performance.
"Stauffer threw the ball well," Black said. "I liked what I saw. He was efficient, his stuff was fine and I liked that he threw some quality changeups."
James Darnell had two hits and a sacrifice fly for the Padres. Everth Cabrera and Kyle Blanks each had two hits.
"Our young guys had some good swings, making hard contact," Black said. "Young guys want to make an impression. You're seeing some bat speed. They are playing loose and they're letting it rip. They're hacking, not many pitches going by. A lot of that is anxiousness. A lot of that will wear off as we move forward."
Both of Ramirez's home runs were to the opposite field. He hit a solo homer in the fourth off Robbie Erlin and a three-run shot in the sixth off Juan Pablo Oramas.
Ramirez is a nonroster invite to spring training.
NOTES: The Padres were without starting SS Jason Bartlett (soreness in right knee) and 3B Chase Headley (back tightness). In addition, INF Logan Forsythe is out at least two weeks with a left foot injury and reserve OF Chris Denorfia is sidelined with lower back issues. ... C John Baker, who had missed the first two San Diego games with flulike symptoms, worked out Tuesday. ... Actor Rob Riggle, who went to high school in the Kansas City area and the University of Kansas, will be at Royals camp Wednesday and take batting practice. He is in the movie "21 Jump Street," which opens March 16. ... Royals Hall of Famer George Brett, who is in camp as an instructor, brought out the starting lineup, exchanging it with Black. The two were teammates on the 1985 Kansas City team that won the World Series.