Archive for Saturday, March 25, 2006

Wood gunning for K.C. rotation

March 25, 2006

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— Mike Wood is eager to learn whether his stellar spring has earned him a place in the Kansas City Royals' rotation or whether he will begin the season in the bullpen.

Manager Buddy Bell said Friday he would announce the final two starting slots today. Wood has been competing with left-hander Jeremy Affeldt and right-hander Denny Bautista to fill out the Kansas City rotation. Scott Elarton, Runelvys Hernandez and Joe Mays will start the first three games.

Wood pitched two shutout innings Friday in the Royals' 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to lower his earned-run average to 1.29. He has a 2-0 record, and in 14 innings, he has given up 12 hits and two earned runs. That does not include another six innings in a Triple-A game, when he pitched six scoreless innings and got 14 ground-ball outs.

"I hate to think about it," Wood said of the decision. "I don't want to be disappointed. I'm going to put a mental block on all this going into tomorrow. Whatever it is, it is. I don't want to be hacked. I don't want to be happy. I just want to stay regular.

"If I'm in the bullpen it means that we have five great starters. They can do the job. Everybody has stepped up this spring. We're ready to play. Either way, we're ready. My number-one goal is to win, of course. The last two years have been miserable."

The Royals lost a franchise-record 106 games in 2005 after 104 defeats in 2004.

Kansas City's Joe McEwing, back, chases L.A. baserunner Adam Kennedy, who is stuck in a pickle. Kennedy eventually was tagged out by Alex Gordon. The Royals beat the Angels, 5-1, Friday in Tempe, Ariz.

Kansas City's Joe McEwing, back, chases L.A. baserunner Adam Kennedy, who is stuck in a pickle. Kennedy eventually was tagged out by Alex Gordon. The Royals beat the Angels, 5-1, Friday in Tempe, Ariz.

Affeldt and Bautista have also had good springs. Affeldt is 2-1 with a 3.93 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .212 average. Bautista is 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA, and opposing hitters have a .203 average against him. Affeldt held Seattle to one hit and one run over six innings in a start Wednesday. Bautista tossed six shutout innings Thursday against San Diego, also giving up just one hit.

Elarton, who will be the Royals' opening-day starter, worked six innings Friday against the Angels. He gave up nine hits, walked one and hit a batter but permitted just one run.

The Royals have won seven of eight and lead the Cactus League with a 13-7-1 record.

Rookie Shane Costa went 3-for-4 with a triple to lead the Royals' offense.

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