Bruce Chen to start Royals' opener
Manager Ned Yost made the announcement on Tuesday after Chen had his best spring training outing in a 9-7 victory over Milwaukee, holding the Brewers to three runs and seven hits in six-plus innings, while striking out six and walking one.
"It means a lot to me to pitch in that first game. It's the first time in my career," Chen said. "It is a lot of responsibility, but I think I am ready for the challenge.
"The Royals trusted in me when a lot of other teams didn't want to. I want to help put us in a position in September to have a good chance to go to the playoffs."
Yost said Chen's effort on Tuesday was fantastic.
"He was able to work on different phases of his game. He has three or four different arm slots, but he hadn't incorporated his over-the-top fastball that runs 87-89 miles an hour. He was able to do that today."
Yost said of giving him the No. 1 spot in the rotation, "Bruce can keep us in ballgames against No. 1 starters (opponents)."
"I wanted to throw from every single angle," Chen said. "The first couple of times (starts), the arm is not ready (to throw at the highest velocity). But I brought it out today. I didn't want to keep pitching the way I was pitching."
Chen, a 34-year-old left-hander, went 12-8 with a 3.77 ERA in 25 starts last year and is 24-15 the past two seasons.
Yost said right-hander Luke Hochevar, the 2011 Opening Day starter, and left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the San Francisco Giants, would start the second and third games in the Angels series.
The Royals have not yet determined who will be the fourth and fifth game starters at Oakland.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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