MLB Insiders: Kansas City Royals

Erik Bedard

The Pirates open a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Friday night at PNC Park. Lefty Erik Bedard will pitch for the Bucs. The Royals will counter with right-hander Luke Hochevar.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have enjoyed some home success during interleague play in recent years.

That likely won't make it easy for the Kansas City Royals to end their road struggles against NL opponents.

Looking to continue that interleague and overall home success, the Pirates open a weekend series against the Royals on Friday night.

At 82-132, Pittsburgh (29-27) has the majors' worst interleague record. However, the Pirates are 56-54 against AL opponents at home. They've won eight of 12 versus the AL at PNC Park since being swept by the Chicago White Sox from June 15-17, 2010.

Pittsburgh is 10-13 overall versus Kansas City, but has won four of six at home against the Royals. The Pirates took two of three there in 2009.

Kansas City (24-31), meanwhile, has lost 12 of 15 interleague road games since taking two of three at Cincinnati in 2010. The Royals snapped a seven-game road skid against NL opponents with a 16-8 win at Colorado on July 3.

After losing two of three to Minnesota, Kansas City could have a tough time regrouping against a Pittsburgh team that has won five of six at home and returns from a 4-2 trip to Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

Erik Bedard (3-6, 3.72 ERA), who spent his previous eight seasons in the AL, takes the mound for the Pirates on Friday. The left-hander is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in six starts against the Royals, but he allowed five runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss at Kansas City last season while with Seattle.

Bedard gave up two hits in six scoreless innings of a 10-4 win over the Cubs on May 27, then was roughed up for a season-high five runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday.

Kansas City's Luke Hochevar (3-6, 6.63) is 4-3 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts versus NL opponents and 0-3 with a 5.73 ERA in his last four outings overall. The right-hander allowed at least six runs for the fourth time this season, lasting 4 2-3 innings for the second consecutive start in Saturday's 9-3 loss to Oakland.

When the Royals opened interleague road games last year, designated hitter Billy Butler was on the bench.

That won't be the case Friday night, when the Royals play at Pittsburgh. Butler will be at first base and first baseman Eric Hosmer will move to right field, making his major league debut as an outfielder, although he played a few innings there in spring training.

Jeff Francoeur, who has started 54 of the first 55 games in right field, will switch to center field and center fielder Jarrod Dyson will go to the bench, but could be a valuable asset as a pinch runner.

"We went into (interleague play) last year and had Billy sitting on the bench," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The way Billy's swinging the bat this year, we can't afford to do that.

"We've got to have Billy on the field during these National League games. It just gives us options to get our best hitters on the field."

Butler is batting .296 and leads the Royals with 11 home runs and 35 RBI.

Hosmer has been taking fly balls in right field during the recent six-game homestand.

"He's such an athletic player, he's going to be able to make an adjustment," Yost said. "He can play all three outfield positions. He's a very good defender at first base. He gives us options and that's a good thing to have."

Notes, Quotes

1B/DH Clint Robinson, who was batting .314 with eight home runs and 37 RBI with Class AAA Omaha, was called up Thursday. Robinson, 27, won the Texas League Triple Crown in 2010, batting .335 with 29 home runs and 98 RBI for Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Robinson's promotion provides the Royals with a left-handed power bat off the bench for the series against the Pirates.

RHP Kyle Zimmer, the Royals' first-round pick, signed Thursday for a $3- million bonus, which was $500,000 less than the slot for the fifth overall pick. Zimmer will report to the Royals' complex in Surprise, Ariz., for a minicamp that begins Sunday. Zimmer was hampered at the end of his junior season at University of San Francisco by a hamstring injury. The Royals will evaluate how he has recovered before assigning him to a minor league affiliate.

LHP Ryan Verdugo was optioned to Class AAA Omaha. Verdugo was with the big league club for only two games and did not pitch. The Royals will go back to a 12-man pitching staff for the beginning of interleague play and carry an extra position player, 1B-DH Clint Robinson. Verdugo was 3-1 with a 3.61 ERA in 11 starts with Omaha before he was called up Tuesday.

RHP Luis Mendoza has made five relief appearances this season and in three of them has pitched at least 4 2/3 innings. Mendoza, who has also made five starts, pitched five innings Wednesday in a loss to the Twins, giving up two runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter. Mendoza came in after RHP Felipe Paulino left after only retiring only two batters because of a right groin strain, which he injured while backing up third base.

RHP Luke Hochevar, who starts Friday at Pittsburgh, has allowed 22 of his 43 runs in four big innings: seven runs, first inning, April 13 vs. Indians; five runs, first inning, May 6 at Detroit; six runs, third inning, vs. Yankees; and four runs, fifth inning, Saturday, against Oakland. Hochevar never has faced the Pirates. He was 1-1 with a 6.88 ERA in three interleague starts last year.

LHP Everett Teaford allowed one run in two innings Thursday during his first rehab appearance for Class AAA Omaha. Teaford has been out since May 19 due to a lower abdominal strain.

2B Chris Getz went 1-for-2 with a walk Thursday in his first rehab game for Class AAA Omaha. Getz has been sidelined since May 22 because of a bruised left ribcage.

C Salvador Perez went 2-for-4 with a double Thursday in his first rehab game for Class AAA Omaha. Perez has been out all season after having left knee surgery in March.

By The Numbers: 13-10—The Royals' all-time record against the Pirates.

Quote To Note: "Wish me luck. We'll see how that goes." —1B Eric Hosmer, on switching to right field for interleague play at Pittsburgh.

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