KANSAS CITY -- Pitcher Luke Hochevar, who'll start the Royals' home opener against the Indians on Friday afternoon, is part of a five-man rotation that manager Ned Yost predicted would surprise the skeptics.
And, after the first six starts, that's been the case. The Royals' starters have the second-lowest ERA in the Majors, 1.85 compared to the leading 1.67 by Philadelphia. Maybe that could be expected from Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley. But Bruce Chen, Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy?
Well, you know those skeptics. But Hochevar likes what he sees so far.
"That means a lot. Obviously, we believe that it's not how you start, it's how you finish, but still, coming from last year, the starting rotation was the part of the unit that everybody pointed to and said that these guys need to pick it up," Hochevar said.
"I think a lot of the guys in the rotation took it personally in the offseason and really used it as a motivating factor to come into this season and to be a strong point of this team. Signing Bruce back was big, and acquiring Sanchez was big. I mean, the guy has got amazing stuff. Obviously you don't throw a no-hitter without great stuff. And then Mendoza and Duffy. Both those guys have had success in the past. Duffy's probably, stuff-wise, one of the better lefties in the game. ... We want to be a staff that leads this team because the fact of the matter is that we're not going to go anywhere unless our starting pitching picks us up and does their job."
In Hochevar's first start against the Angels, he worked six shutout innings but then was charged with two runs after leaving the game in the seventh inning of a 6-3 victory.
Perez off crutches as knee rehab is proceeding
KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Salvador Perez might not be ready to go dancing, but at least he's off his crutches and moved through the Royals' clubhouse at a pretty brisk pace for a guy who had knee surgery four weeks ago.
Perez has his left knee in a brace as he recovers from surgery to repair the lateral meniscus that he tore when reaching for a pitch while warming up Jonathan Sanchez before a March 12 game in Surprise, Ariz. Perez left the game after one inning and probably won't play again until around the All-Star break.
"Everything has gone great in the rehab. The knee is getting stronger and I'm getting anxious," he said via translator and bench coach Chino Cadahia.
Perez had just signed a long-term contract that guarantees him $7 million over the next five years with three club option years beyond that. So he has security.
"It's nice to have the contract, but I'd much rather be playing," Perez said.
After rehabbing in Kansas City since training camp broke, Perez was happy to see "my family" -- meaning the team -- back home for Friday's home opener even if he has to sit it out.
"I'm taking it all in stride and I'm looking forward to next year's Opening Day," he said.
Yost, teammates have faith in Broxton
KANSAS CITY -- A day after Jonathan Broxton blew his first save as the Royals' closer, manager Ned Yost and Broxton's teammates were confident the pitcher would be fine moving forward.Broxton entered the game in the bottom of the 12th inning on Wednesday and surrendered two walks and hit two batters, turning a 4-3 Royals lead into a 5-4 Athletics win.
"Look, Mariano Rivera blew an Opening Day save," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "Brox blew one. That's going to happen."
Francoeur added that he and Broxton drove to the stadium together on Thursday and Broxton is ready to move past it. Broxton's manager was equally confident.
"I talked to Brox today, and he just lost command of his fastball," Yost said. "But he's a two-time All-Star. He has really rebounded nicely from this arm surgery. ... I think he's going to be fine."
Broxton has made three appearances so far this season, allowing a total of three runs and striking out four batters.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.