Feb 21, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luis Mendoza (39) poses for a picture during photo day at the Royals Spring Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Announce Luis Mendoza as Fifth Starter, Bruce Chen to Bullpen

When the Royals put out their lineup for Tuesday’s spring training game against the Seattle Mariners, scheduled starter Bruce Chen was swapped out for Sugar Ray Marimon, but left available in the bullpen.

Speculation started about a potential trade (as teams like the Mets are being hit by injuries and could use some arms to help fill in), but finally, VP of Media and Broadcasting Mike Swanson tweeted that Chen would be the team’s long reliever and Luis Mendoza would be the Royals fifth starter to open the year. The move was later confirmed by the official team Twitter account.

Camp opened up with Chen, Luke  Hochevar and Mendoza fighting for the fifth starter spot. Hochevar was sent to the bullpen last week but it still seemed like the Royals favored Chen – and his $4.5 million salary – over Mendoza. After a strong winter ball season, Mendoza had a 0.82 ERA in 11 spring innings and had walked just two batters with the Royals. Chen, by contrast, had surrendered 12 earned runs in 13.2 innings and gave up seven homers. Arizona isn’t the best environment for him as a fly ball pitcher, and perhaps, like last year, he was working on a few things, but the performance was so stark that the Royals made the call to go with Mendoza.

Chen to the bullpen could impact other decisions. While he isn’t a specialist against lefties, it may compel the Royals to stick with a right-hander when choosing their last relief pitcher, meaning Louis Coleman, J.C. Gutierrez, or Dan Wheeler (on a minor league deal) could win that job. That would shut out Donnie Joseph and Francisley Bueno. Both lefties have thrown well this spring, but both have options.

Tags: Bruce Chen Kansas City Royals Luis Mendoza Spring Training

  • Eric Akers

    Congratulations to Luis. He has worked hard the last few years on improving and it has worked out for him. I am hoping he can match what he did last year as a whole.

  • jimfetterolf

    Damn, pops another meme. I think the schedule has something to do with it, two of the first five #5 starts will be in Toronto and Boston, not good parks for a leftie fly ball pitcher.

    • Michael Engel

      By “pops another meme” do you mean to suggest that every indication from the Royals front office, beat writers, national writers and others that Chen and Hochevar were the favorites at every step until the last seven days was unreasonable to expect to be true?

      • jimfetterolf

        Yep. All the bloggers fell for it again. I’m starting to think Dayton Moore and Ned Yost do that on purpose. Bob Dutton was on the bandwagon too, I think he mentioned it every day for the last week.

        Bloggers are all “emotional attachment”, then Yuni is cut, Sanchez traded, Hoch to the ‘pen, Luis wins the job. I thought Mendoza actually won the job last year, in spite of his career, so looked to have the inside track this year based on shape and results. Only thing Chen had to offer was being a lefty and we might see him make a spot start or two, but the schedule, if nothing else, favored Mendoza. Guess I need to renew my sponsorship of Mendoza on Brooks Baseball, made back when all I heard was “Career!” and “Low K%!” :)

  • ArrowFan

    Do we have the best Pen in Ball right now?

    • Michael Engel

      It’s pretty good. I’d say in the division certainly. Collins has struggled but everyone else has been good this spring and there are more good arms than spots for them. I like the Nationals bullpen even if they stunk in the playoffs. Braves are pretty strong, as are the Yankees. Probably some teams I’m overlooking but off the top of my head I’d put KC right in the mix.