Notes: Dotel ready to bring the heat

Notes: Dotel ready to bring the heat

PEORIA -- Octavio Dotel's fastball constantly is registering 96 mph on radar guns.

By the time the season starts, Dotel believes that number will increase.

"I think I should throw harder," Dotel said on Friday after working another scoreless inning in the Royals' 7-3 loss to the Mariners. "The fans in Kansas City want to see some heat late in the game, and also saves. It looks better when you throw heat and get the save."

Dotel pitched only 10 innings in the Major Leagues last year after returning from June 6, 2005 Tommy John surgery.

"I was kind of wondering how it was going to be," Dotel said. "After the 2006 season, it was OK, but I had some feeling it wasn't right for me, and I had that in my mind. Even in the Dominican, I was feeling good when I was throwing. So far it has been unbelievable in Spring Training.

"I'm really happy my elbow has come so far. I'm really happy for myself the way I'm feeling right now."

If Dotel's right elbow is healthy, that should be a major upgrade to the bullpen and a decline of the Royals' 31 blown saves last year.

"That is what I'm here for," he said.

In four Spring Training appearances, he has allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five in four scoreless innings.

"I'm looking to have a good year," Dotel said. "I'm a free agent after this year."

Dotel said he would throw back-to-back days and two innings in one game to prepare his arm for the season.

Starting competition: Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke appear to be neck and neck for the fifth slot in the Kansas City rotation.

"We're not ready not to make a decision," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "I haven't even thought about who is ahead of the other. We do evaluate these guys after every start. We've got to look at the whole picture. We can't be so impulsive."

Bannister took the loss against the Mariners, allowing six runs on seven hits, including a three-run homer to Raul Ibanez.

"Every hit was on the ground except for Ibanez's home run," Bannister said. "Ibanez was the only guy in the lineup I really didn't know. I won't throw that to him again. It was a fastball in a fastball count. I'll challenge him more next time. That is the only pitch the whole day I was disappointed with. They had a lot of weak ground balls. Except for the pitch to Ibanez, there wasn't a pitch I regret throwing. I was efficient the first couple of innings, and things didn't go my way."

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Bannister's line belies how he pitched.

"It was one of my best bad games," he said.

Ichiro Suzuki's ground-ball double in the third inning caromed off first baseman Ross Gload's glove and hit the bag.

"Ichiro's ball down the line was the game changer," Bannister said. "Six inches [to the side], it is a double-play ball or it might have been foul."

Injury updates: First baseman Justin Huber will miss a few games with a hamstring injury. Bell said infielder Alex Sanchez should be able to play on Saturday or Sunday after being out with hamstring tightness.

Right-handers Scott Elarton and Zach Day, both of whom had shoulder surgery last year, threw 30-35 pitches on Friday.

"They both looked pretty healthy and are making good progress," pitching coach Bob McClure said.

Both will start the season on the disabled list.

Research finds: Although it was a Spring Training game, the Royals gave up six home runs, all with the bases empty, on Thursday and still beat the Giants, 7-6.

The Red Sox were the last team to yield six or more home runs in a regular-season game and win. They gave up seven in an 11-9 victory over the Tigers on Aug. 8, 2004. The Royals have never been involved in a regular-season game in which they have won when surrendering six homers.

Sold out: There are no tickets remaining for the Royals-Diamondbacks game on Saturday at Surprise Stadium. The complex even put up additional bleachers for the game, with a Surprise Stadium record crowd of more than 13,000 anticipated.

On deck: Right-hander Gil Meche will start for the Royals when they take on the Diamondbacks on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT. Dustin Nippert is scheduled to pitch first for Arizona.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.