SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. The Kansas City Royals' catching race between John Buck and Jason LaRue is still too close for manager Buddy Bell to call.
Bell said Sunday he didn't know who would be behind the plate for the April 2 opener against Boston, but whoever doesn't start that game will be in the lineup for the next one.
At the start of the season, Bell's plan is to alternate Buck, who has started the past 21â2 seasons, and LaRue, who started five years for the Cincinnati Reds and was acquired in an offseason trade.
"They are kind of even, neck-and-neck," Bell said.
Buck, who is 26 and was one of the three players the Royals acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade in 2004, went 1-for-2 with a walk and strikeout Sunday in a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He is hitting .316 in nine spring training games.
LaRue, who turns 33 today, is hitting .381 in six games with a team-leading three home runs and two doubles. He hit just .194 in 72 games with the Reds last year after having arthroscopic right knee surgery in spring training.
"I think right now we're going to find time for both of them," Bell said. "We like both of them. They've both played very well. I think both of them played better than I anticipated."
Both are right-handed hitters, so a platoon situation is out.