Did Tuesday night’s game have a spring training vibe?  The only reason I ask is because of the Royals announcing their first two pitchers ahead of the game.  Both Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar were slotted for four innings (or 60 pitches) as they continue to work their way back from injury.

Not a bad idea.  I’m always up for some outside the box thinking and this is something that works, given the circumstances.  The minor league seasons are over and the Royals want to continue to move their pitchers forward in their recovery process.  To go to a six man rotation to accommodate both Bannister and Hochevar would unnecessarily compromise an already shaky bullpen.  So why not go to the “piggyback” option we often see in March?

Of course, the Bannister start ended a bit… Prematurely.

Don’t look so surprised.  At the rate he’s gone this season, he’s been lucky to get through the fifth.  (Over his previous 12 starts before landing on the DL, Bannister averaged 5.1 innings per start.) On a pitch count (or innings limit) and coming off an injury, you had to figure there was almost zero chance he’d make it all the way.

I don’t think it was any coincidence that Bannister started getting ripped by the Twins on his second turn through the lineup.  That, and the fact he left a couple of pitches about belt high and in the middle of the plate.  It doesn’t help matters when his right fielder can’t make that catch on Matt Tolbert’s deep fly ball.  Wall shy.

I remain convinced that one of the questions facing Dayton Moore this winter will be Bannister or Kyle Davies… I just don’t see the Royals keeping both.  And since the calendar flipped to September, this is when Davies makes his case for next year.  (September tease… That’s what he is.)  Expectations were extremely low for Bannister tonight… and he still fell short.  This game was kind of a metaphor for his whole season.

“We look at this, hopefully, as a two-start deal,”

That was Ned Yost on June 15, when the Royals announced Hochevar would be placed on the DL with a grade one elbow sprain.  Uhhh… two starts turned into three months.  They missed that by about 13 starts or so.

Anyway, Hochevar was better than Bannister on Tuesday although that’s not saying much.  Hochevar racked up a ton of pitches in three innings and gave up a handful of hits – including the requisite Jim Thome moon shot – but at least struck out three.  Hochevar was in trouble in his first two innings, but was able to work out of jams.  The Delmon Young double was the exception.

Here’s the real key to the evening:  Hochevar had a couple of hitters off balance, something Bannister failed to do in his time on the mound.  By comparison, Bannister had one swinging strike all night.  Hochevar had seven – including three against Jason Kubel in one overmatched at bat.

I bet we do this piggyback thing for at least one more start.

— The way Butler hurt his hand was bizarre.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like that before.

— I continue to be impressed by Alex Gordon in the field.  It’s always pleasant when one of the Royals positional moves doesn’t end in disaster.  Or misadventure.

— Good for Josh Fields and his home run.  I guess.  It’s not his fault, but I fail to see how he exactly fits on this team moving forward.

Final thought…

I read in the Star that the “evaluation process” would be on hold this week as the Royals play the Twins and the Tigers.  The Yost Machine’s thoughts are since these teams are contenders, the Royals owe it to put their best players on the field.

So I take it we won’t see Jesse Chavez over the next six games?

Here we go again… Every single time the Royals appear to make a commitment to their young players, they panic after a few losses (or individual struggles) and revert back to form.  The same form that got them in the same pickle to start.

Although, I have to admit, I’m not entirely certain what this means… The “best players.”  Less Josh Fields?  Ummm… I’m kind of sure Wilson Betemit at third gives the Royals a better chance right now.  (And probably in the future, too.)  Initially, when I read Yost’s comments, I thought that meant Kila wouldn’t be playing.  Yet, he basically trotted out the same starting nine as last week’s matchup against the Tigers.  Kila wasn’t in the lineup on Tuesday, but the Twins were starting left hander Francisco Liriano, who has absolutely handcuffed left-handed bats.

And it’s not like Jason Kendall is walking through that door.