Royals hold off Reds
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals signed Alex Rios in the offseason hoping he would provide some power.
They probably didn’t think he’d deliver so soon.
Rios hit his third home run of the spring on Saturday, Danny Duffy was sharp in his return to the mound and the Kansas City Royals held off the Cincinnati Reds 3-2.
Rios connected with a 0-1 pitch from reliever J.J. Hoover in the fifth inning to give Kansas City the lead. All three of his homers have been no-doubt shots, an encouraging sign for a slugger who hit just four homers a year ago mostly due to a thumb injury.
“Hitting is tough by itself and when you’re dealing with injuries, it complicates the equation even more,” Rios said. “Imagine trying to run a marathon with a broken toe or something like that. You’re still going to be able to run but it’s going to make it difficult.”
Outfield prospect Paulo Orlando also went deep for the Royals, who improved to 4-0 in the Cactus League. Setup man Wade Davis allowed a hit in one scoreless inning in his spring debut.
The Royals took the lead in the third inning on a single by Christian Colon, who started at second base in place of ailing Omar Infante. Cincinnati evened the game in the fifth when Brennan Boesch went deep to left off Louis Coleman, his second homer of the spring.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who missed 100 games last season with a quadriceps injury, had a single in two at-bats in his first game of the spring. The four-time All-Star had been held out of the first four games as a precautionary measure.
“It was nice to be back out there. It’s been such a long time that I played on a consistent basis,” he said. “It felt good to get back to work and playing with my teammates.”
Votto even felt fine running first to third on a foul ball.
“I think we are just about done with these sorts of questions,” he said. “I’m so glad to be back and to play with the team and just fit in and focus on winning.”
Duffy is also feeling better after dealing with a ribcage injury in last year’s playoffs.
The Royals left-hander breezed through two perfect innings, getting a series of fly balls and groundouts. He only needed 20 pitches, throwing primarily fastballs and sinkers.
“You know, would have liked to have located down a couple of pitches, but for the most part we were kneed to knee and hitting our spots,” Duffy said. “It was good.”
As for the ribs, Duffy said he hasn’t felt any pain since December.
“Everything is good,” he said. “Just out there trying to try easier, I guess. Felt great.”
YOUNG IN BLUE
The Royals signed veteran RHP Chris Young to a one-year deal Saturday. He was the AL comeback player of the year with Seattle last season, going 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA after missing most of the previous season due to injury. Young figures to work as a long reliever. “Not really worried about my role,” he said. “Pitching is pitching.”
Reds: RHP Mike Leake struck out three in two scoreless innings, throwing 17 of 24 pitches for strikes. “I could have pitched to a couple more batters,” Leake said, “but for the first time, we just wanted to get up and down twice to get used to it.”
Royals: Davis got help from a nifty double-play that began when shortstop Alcides Escobar fielded Marlon Byrd’s grounder deep in the hole. “That was nice,” Davis said. “I was staring a 25-pitching inning right in the face right there.”
Reds: RHP Kevin Gregg, signed to a minor league deal last month, allowed a run in his only inning. The former closer is coming off surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow.
Royals: Infante had an MRI exam on his right elbow revealed a bone spur but no ligament damage. He’s been dealing with pain since the start of last season. Trainers are still discussing treatment options, but manager Ned Yost said Infante should not be out long-term.
Reds: RHP Jason Marquis makes his second spring outing against the Mariners in Goodyear. He’s competing for a rotation spot if RHP Homer Bailey (elbow surgery) is not ready.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez makes his Kansas City debut against the Angels in Tempe. He was signed in the offseason to replace departed free agent RHP James Shields.