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Luis Mendoza wins fifth starter's job in Kansas City

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If the Kansas City Royals are to shake themselves out of the doldrums, it's going to have to start with pitching.

So maybe news Tuesday that they're starting the season with Bruce Chen in the bullpen and Luis Mendoza as the fifth starter portends better things for 2013.

“You go back into the track records, and there's no denying Bruce has won 35 games in the last three years,” manager Ned Yost said Tuesday morning.

But.

It was Mendoza who carried the momentum from a hot Winter League season into the spring, and it is Mendoza who will slot in behind James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis.

Mendoza pitched for a championship-winning Obregon club in the Mexican Pacific League over the winter and was named as the Most Valuable Player in the Caribbean Series.

He went 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA this spring, surrendering just one run and 10 hits in 11 Cactus League innings. He fanned eight and walked two. He also pitched for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

“He had a great winter and he's had a great spring,” Yost said. “We'll give him first crack at it.”

Chen last pitched out of the bullpen in May 2010.

“I'm going to go and work very hard and do everything I can to help,” said Chen, 35. “It is what it is.

“If I pitch the whole year out of the pen, then that means the starting rotation is doing well.”

And, he said, that will benefit everyone in Kansas City.

 
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