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Archive for Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hochevar unveils pitch

March 7, 2012

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Royals (ss) 7, Padres 4

Surprise, Ariz. — 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.

Indians 3, Royals (ss) 2

Goodyear, Ariz. — Shelley Duncan is picking up where he left off last year for the Cleveland Indians.

Duncan hit his second three-run homer in three games to lead the Indians to a 3-2 win over a Kansas City Royals split squad on Tuesday.

“He’s a bat that at any moment can pop one out,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of Duncan, who had seven homers and 23 RBIs in 26 games in September.

Duncan homered in the third inning off reliever Zach Miner, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2010.

Starter Will Smith and Noel Arguelles each worked two scoreless innings for the Royals. Irving Falu, who has 17 homers in eight years in the minors, hit a two-run shot for Kansas City.

Duncan has had plenty of power in the minors yet is still seeking a steady job in Cleveland.

He has hit 203 homers in 12 years as a pro — only 22 in parts of five seasons at the big-league level with the New York Yankees and Indians.

With Grady Sizemore sidelined at least two months following back surgery, there’s an opening in the Indians outfield.

Acta isn’t even looking for somebody to match Sizemore’s Gold Glove-caliber defense, but is eager to get some right-handed production for a predominantly left-handed lineup that struggled to score last season.

“Every guy in the big leagues can play left field,” Acta said. “How well (can Duncan), we’ll see. Defense is very important to us because we have a staff of contact pitchers. But at times, you have to give up defense for some offense because scoring has been an issue here.”

Kevin Slowey worked two scoreless innings in his Indians debut.

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