SURPRISE, Ariz. —Even after taking the fifth, Royals pitcher Kyle Davies chooses to indict himself.
Specifically, Davies says it's time he begins performing like a veteran pitcher with nearly 100 major-league starts on his career resume and move past the inconsistency that has marked his nine-year professional career.
"It has to be something I can't do anymore," he said. "You can't keep going through the same things over and over and over again. You have to learn from them. And you know what? It's time for me to do that.
"I'm old enough to do it. I've had enough experience to do it. And I need to do it. My whole goal of the season is to try to stay on an even keel. Just pitch. Get ahead with strike one, and then just pitch. Let everything fall where it falls."
It is now official that Davies will get the chance to put that resolve into practice. Manager Trey Hillman confirmed Wednesday that Davies will be part of the five-man rotation that opens the regular season.
"You certainly would like (for him) to not have the lapses in lack of command," Hillman said, "especially with the fastball. But you know what? For the time being, as long as he can control the damage, I'm resigned to the fact (he will have those lapses).
"He's got really good stuff, and I'm hoping that it plays our more than it doesn't as far as being able to control the damage."
Davies, 26, secured the final rotation opening by closing the spring with three straight strong performances. He permitted two hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday in a 7-2 victory over Cleveland at Surprise Stadium.
"It's been good the last three," Davies said. "I've kind of taken a step back and not thought about a thing. Just believe in what I see.
"If I see a guy is behind (on his swings), I'll continue to pump fastballs. If I see he's on my fastball, I'll go to something else. Just make it as simple as possible."
The maddening aspect to Davies' approach is it isn't new. Even he admits that. Previously though, he always lacked the professional discipline to maintain that approach — especially when things went sour.
That inconsistency is reflected in his 5.54 ERA in 106 career games despite occasional strong stretches. Davies closed last season at 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his final seven starts. He also finished the 2008 season by going 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts.
In-between, Davies was 3-8 with a 6.37 ERA in 15 starts, which earned him a six-week remedial tour last summer at Triple-A Omaha.
"I'd go through a stretch where I'd win four straight games and be a very good pitcher," he said. "It's just it has to stay that way. That's my job as a major-league pitcher, to make that adjustment and keep it that way.
"If you have one bad inning or one bad outing, you come back. It has to be a quick adjustment. It can't take two innings. It can't take two games. It can't take a month. It's got to take no more than two or three batters."
The time to do all of that is now.
"If it's not," Davies said, "then I don't deserve to be in the big leagues."