Davies, Hochevar continue to impress

Davies, Hochevar continue to impress

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies didn't make picking the fourth and fifth rotation spots any easier for the Royals on Wednesday.

"No, it didn't -- and that's a good thing, though," manager Trey Hillman said.

Both right-handers impressed Hillman and pitching coach Bob McClure in a 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Hochevar had a rocky start to the game when Gary Matthews Jr. singled, Vladimir Guerrero tripled and Garret Anderson doubled in the two-run first inning.

These hitters weren't, as Whitey Herzog liked to say, the Fort Wayne Daisies.

"The ball was up and this is a lineup where you can't get the ball up," Hochevar said. "After that, I recognized it, made my adjustment and got the ball back down. When I have good downward angle, my location is better, my sinker is better, my offspeed is a lot better and a lot smoother."

In his final three innings, Hochevar shut down the Angels on three hits.

"The thing I was pleased with," Hillman said, "is he got hit pretty good in the first inning but he didn't panic and held it together against a very good lineup. His composure has consistently remained good."

This outing reminded Hillman of Hochevar's "B" game outing five days ago, when he got in a bases-loaded jam in the first inning against the Texas Rangers and then settled down.

The two-run outburst represented the only runs thus far off Hochevar in his eight innings of Cactus League play.

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Davies worked the next three innings against the Angels and gave up just one run, on a double by Guerrero, and a two-out high-hop single over third baseman Jason Smith.

"Equally as good," Hillman said of Davies. "Arguably, he shouldn't have given up a run. He pitched very effectively and the changeup was plus-plus today."

Davies, who has given up four earned runs in nine innings, has made a key change in his delivery. McClure has him distancing his hand from his head, which has improved Davies' pitch location.

"It's really going to help him," McClure said. "I think we saw a lot more consistency from him today -- more than I've ever seen from him."

Other candidates for the fourth and fifth spots get their shots in the next three days. John Bale faces the Rangers in a "B" game on Thursday before Jorge De La Rosa, Mike Maroth and Brian Lawrence go on exhibit against the Angels at Surprise. Brett Tomko will start against the Rangers on Friday. Hideo Nomo will face the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

"There are some guys making it tough and that's the way it should be," McClure said. "This is how it should be if we're going to have a winning team. You can have 1-2-3 [starters], but [those fourth and fifth starters], if they can win 10 or 14 games for you, doggone, we're in good shape."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.