SURPRISE, Ariz. -- So far in the Cactus League whenever the Royals have played at a National League club's park, the teams have agreed to use the American League's designated hitter. That will end on Saturday when they visit the Cubs at Mesa, Ariz.
"Bruce [Chen] will hit against the Cubs and then we'll use our pitcher to hit -- if he's one of the five guys in competition for the five-man rotation. If we play a National League game, they'll hit," manager Ned Yost said.
Because the Astros have moved to the AL and each league has 15 teams this year, Interleague Play has become a season-long event. So AL pitchers have to take batting practice during Spring Training rather than waiting until after the season begins.
"We've been hitting and bunting since Day 1," Yost said. "They've been hitting on the fields every day. When the fields are taken up, we take 'em to the cage every day. So they're in pretty good hitting form and pretty good hitting shape for being pitchers."
It's more than picking up a bat and taking a few hacks.
"You have to get used to it. You have to get back into bunting, you have to get back into swinging the bat," Yost said. "You've got to actually get in hitting shape and we've really made a focus of doing that since Day 1. But the second series of the year [at Philadelphia], we're going to be playing under National League rules. We've got to be ready for it."
It's primarily the starting pitchers who are concentrating on hitting. Relievers not so much.
"Generally not, because they won't hit. You either double-switch out or you pinch hit in those situations," Yost said.
Hochevar breezes through first relief outing
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For Luke Hochevar, the change from being a starting pitcher to a reliever went perfectly.
Hochevar, shifted to the Royals' bullpen on Wednesday, made his first appearance in his new role in the fifth and sixth innings of Friday's 7-5 split-squad victory over the Padres. He retired all six batters he faced.
The tall right-hander approached the relief assignment more aggressively than he normally did as a starter.
"You get that shot of adrenaline and it's kind of a different approach. You're not really trying to establish anything or get your pitch count down deep in the game and so it's more of like an attack -- swing-and-miss kind of approach, I guess," Hochevar said. "I really don't know how to explain it."
Manager Ned Yost certainly liked what he saw.
"It was very impressive. He came in with a good stuff, good breaking ball, on the attack. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom -- he's done," Yost said. "So very, very good outing. I think he enjoyed it for the first time in relief and it's a different feeling. I think he experienced that today and he was pretty excited when his job was done."
Hochevar certainly seemed so.
"What I took from it today was you get that shot of adrenaline which is nice and, yeah, it's fun," he said.
Escobar may return to action Sunday or Monday
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The timetable is uncertain for shortstop Alcides Escobar's return to the Royals' lineup from a stiff back. He missed a fourth straight game on Friday.
"If it was the regular season, he'd be playing today, but it's not," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
After consulting with head athletic trainer Nick Kenney, Yost said Escobar could be back Sunday afternoon against the White Sox or Monday night against the Rangers.
"I don't want to hurry it," Escboar said. "I want to be ready for the start of the season."
So far he's played in 11 games and is batting .290 (9-for-31) with a double, two triples and three RBIs.
"It's just about gone," Yost said. "On a scale of 1 to 10, it maxes out at a 3. But it's at a 3 when he's got quick-twitch movements. When he's slow and-easy, it's at a 1. We're going to try to give it another day to calm down, we're going to get him on the field [Saturday] to take ground balls and then see where he is Sunday, whether he's going to be available to play. It might be Monday. The thing is we've got two weeks left, we don't need to rush this."
Davis throws in Minor League scrimmage
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals starting pitcher Wade Davis reeled off three scoreless innings on Friday, pitching for the club's Class A Wilmington team against the Padres' Lake Elsinore, Calif., affiliate.
In a controlled scrimmage, Davis faced four batters in each of three innings and gave up one hit, no walks and struck out six. He threw 44 pitches, including 29 strikes.
This was Davis' first outing since he skipped a start because of a slightly sore shoulder.
"Everything felt really good -- fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter," Davis said. "It was pretty annoying, but it's all good now. Everything went really good today. My arm was strong and I could've gone farther."
His catcher, Salvador Perez, hit a home run and walked in three plate appearances.
James Shields also will start in a Minor League game on Sunday against a Brewers farm team. He's likely to throw 70-75 pitches in his fourth outing. With several pitchers still to evaluate in Cactus League games, manager Ned Yost is using regular starters in Minor League outings so they can get their work done.
"This time of Spring Training, when guys start getting bumped up to four and five and six innings, is when you start seeing guys make trips to the [Minor League] side to get their innings," Yost said. "Some just for the day, some where they're packing everything."
Moscoso claimed off waiver wire
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals pitcher Guillermo Moscoso has been claimed off the waiver wire by an unnamed Major League club and has until next Wednesday to decide if he'll accept it or become a free agent.
The Royals put Moscoso on unconditional release waivers on Wednesday.
Originally, he was expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation, but that possibility was lessened dramatically when the Royals re-signed Jeremy Guthrie and traded for James Shields and Wade Davis. So the Royals decided to release Moscoso, giving him time to catch on with another club before Spring Training ends.
Moscoso was claimed off waivers from the Rockies on Nov. 2. His busiest season as a starter was 2011, when he was 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 starts and two relief outings for the Athletics.
Royals prominent in Thursday's Classic action
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There was a lot of action on Thursday for the Royals' participants in the World Baseball Classic.
Reliever Kelvin Herrera pitched two scoreless innings in the Dominican Republic's 3-1 win over Team USA in Miami, clinching a semi-final spot in San Francisco. The only baserunner against Herrera was Royals teammate Eric Hosmer, who was safe on shortstop Jose Reyes' throwing error. Miguel Tejada played third base and batted second for the Dominican, going 1-for-5.He's 4-for-12 (.333) in four games.
Hosmer drew a bases-loaded walk off Samuel Deduno for the USA's run in the first inning. USA reliever Tim Collins pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and an intentional walk. Going into Friday's do-or-die game against Puerto Rico, Hosmer was 4-for-21 (.190) with five RBIs -- second-best on the team.
The Royals' Irving Falu, playing second base for Puerto Rico, was 4-for-20 (.200) in five games before Friday's elimination game.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.