Friday, February 28, 2014

Maxwell, Valencia homer in Royals' spring opener

Yu Darvish reeled off two scoreless innings and Prince Fielder smashed a home run as the Rangers dealt last year's Cactus League champions, the Royals, a 11-7 loss in the opener for both clubs on Thursday at Surprise Stadium.

Darvish, the Rangers' Opening Day starter, began the game by retiring the two new faces in the Royals' everyday lineup. Right fielder Norichika Aoki, also from Japan, struck out and second baseman Omar Infante flied out to left.

"I had a lot of life on my fastball and a lot of movement on my slider," Darvish said. "My curve ball was good too. For the first time facing game situations, it went well."

Darvish gave up two hits -- a broken-bat double to Eric Hosmer and a solid single to right by Salvador Perez. Darvish also posted four strikeouts and the last out came on a popup. Twenty-three of his 29 pitches were strikes.

"Darvish looked good," Hosmer said. "He was working on stuff. He was getting ahead of guys on his fastball and throwing a cutter after that. If he was ahead, working on his offspeed. But guys like him are always tough, they always look good. It's just a matter of being around the plate or not -- and he was today. It was definitely a good look for the first game of spring."

Shin-Soo Choo and Fielder, two major offseason additions for the Rangers, made their Texas debuts against left-hander Bruce Chen and went out easily. Choo struck out and Fielder rolled out to second.

But Fielder returned in the third inning to blast an 0-1 pitch from lefty Danny Duffy over the right-field wall, a solo home run. Choo went 0-for-2.

Perez knocked in the Royals' first run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Danny Valencia led off the sixth with a home run off lefty Ryan Feierabend.

The Rangers broke the game open with a five-run seventh against right-hander Cory Wade. Brad Snyder had a two-run double and Brent Lillibridge banged a two-run homer.

Justin Maxwell countered with a two-run blast off righty Justin Germano in the Royals' half.

The Royals won last year's Cactus League with a 25-7 record, the best Spring Training mark in the Majors.

Fielder mashes home run in Rangers debut

Yu Darvish reeled off two scoreless innings and Prince Fielder smashed a home run as the Rangers dealt last year's Cactus League champions, the Royals, a 11-7 loss in the opener for both clubs on Thursday at Surprise Stadium.

Darvish, the Rangers' Opening Day starter, began the game by retiring the two new faces in the Royals' everyday lineup. Right fielder Norichika Aoki, also from Japan, struck out and second baseman Omar Infante flied out to left.

"I had a lot of life on my fastball and a lot of movement on my slider," Darvish said. "My curve ball was good too. For the first time facing game situations, it went well."

Darvish gave up two hits -- a broken-bat double to Eric Hosmer and a solid single to right by Salvador Perez. Darvish also posted four strikeouts and the last out came on a popup. Twenty-three of his 29 pitches were strikes.

"Darvish looked good," Hosmer said. "He was working on stuff. He was getting ahead of guys on his fastball and throwing a cutter after that. If he was ahead, working on his offspeed. But guys like him are always tough, they always look good. It's just a matter of being around the plate or not -- and he was today. It was definitely a good look for the first game of spring."

Shin-Soo Choo and Fielder, two major offseason additions for the Rangers, made their Texas debuts against left-hander Bruce Chen and went out easily. Choo struck out and Fielder rolled out to second.

But Fielder returned in the third inning to blast an 0-1 pitch from lefty Danny Duffy over the right-field wall, a solo home run. Choo went 0-for-2.

Perez knocked in the Royals' first run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth and Danny Valencia led off the sixth with a home run off lefty Ryan Feierabend.

The Rangers broke the game open with a five-run seventh against right-hander Cory Wade. Brad Snyder had a two-run double and Brent Lillibridge banged a two-run homer.

Justin Maxwell countered with a two-run blast off righty Justin Germano in the Royals' half of the seventh.

The Royals won last year's Cactus League with a 25-7 record, the best Spring Training mark in the Majors.

Cano enjoys successful debut vs. Padres

Robinson Cano ripped a single on the first pitch he saw in a Mariners uniform on Thursday as Seattle opened Cactus League play with a 7-1 victory over the Padres in the annual spring charity game at Peoria Stadium.

Cano played just the first three innings in his first game since signing his 10-year, $240 million deal, but wasted no time contributing with a single, walk and run scored.

"It's the first Spring Training game," Cano said. "I didn't want to just go up there and take a pitch. You want to see how you feel."

Padres starter Eric Stults gave up three runs on three hits in two innings, including a run-scoring double by Justin Smoak in the first that plated Cano.

Donn Roach pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Stults as the right-hander allowed just a single and a walk. Roach, 24, pitched at Double-A San Antonio last year and is in his first Major League camp.

Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez hurled two shutout frames, giving up two singles with no walks and a strikeout on 29 pitches. Blake Beavan followed with two more scoreless innings on just a single and walk.

Logan Morrison, playing his first game since being acquired by trade from the Marlins, went 2-for-2 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly in his Mariners debut at designated hitter.

The Mariners doubled their lead to 6-0 in the sixth inning, though just one of the three runs was earned. Padres lefty Patrick Schuster surrendered four hits in that frame, including RBI singles by outfielder Xavier Avery and catcher Humberto Quintero.

The Padres broke through in the eighth inning following Rico Noel's leadoff double. After moving to third on Reymond Fuentes' groundout, Noel crossed on Cory Spangenberg's grounder to short.

Padres kick off Cactus League slate vs. M's

Robinson Cano ripped a single on the first pitch he saw in a Mariners uniform on Thursday as Seattle opened Cactus League play with a 7-1 victory over the Padres in the annual spring charity game at Peoria Stadium.

Cano played just the first three innings in his first game since signing his 10-year, $240 million deal, but wasted no time contributing with a single, walk and run scored.

"It's the first Spring Training game," Cano said. "I didn't want to just go up there and take a pitch. You want to see how you feel."

Padres starter Eric Stults gave up three runs on three hits in two innings, including a run-scoring double by Justin Smoak in the first that plated Cano.

Donn Roach pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Stults as the right-hander allowed just a single and a walk. Roach, 24, pitched at Double-A San Antonio last year and is in his first Major League camp.

Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez hurled two shutout frames, giving up two singles with no walks and a strikeout on 29 pitches. Blake Beavan followed with two more scoreless innings on just a single and walk.

Logan Morrison, playing his first game since being acquired by trade from the Marlins, went 2-for-2 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly in his Mariners debut at designated hitter.

The Mariners doubled their lead to 6-0 in the sixth inning, though just one of the three runs was earned. Padres lefty Patrick Schuster surrendered four hits in that frame, including RBI singles by outfielder Xavier Avery and catcher Humberto Quintero.

The Padres broke through in the eighth inning following Rico Noel's leadoff double. After moving to third on Reymond Fuentes' groundout, Noel crossed on Cory Spangenberg's grounder to short.

Milone endures rocky outing in first spring start

Ryan Braun hit the second pitch he saw for a two-run homer in his first at-bat for the Brewers since completing a 65-game drug suspension, and teammate Juan Francisco homered twice in a 11-3 victory over the host A's on Thursday.

Christening their Cactus League season at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the Brewers got right to work against A's starter Tommy Milone, who was rattled for four hits, including two home runs, in just two innings in his first spring appearance. The lefty, trying to regain a rotation spot, walked two and struck out one.

Milone walked leadoff man Jean Segura, setting up Braun's anticipated at-bat one out later. Braun, who was greeted by a hearty round of cheers from Brewers fans behind the visiting dugout, swung through the first pitch he saw but didn't miss on the next one, lining a fastball over the left-field wall for an early two-run lead.

"It's still the first day of Spring Training," said Braun, who grounded out in his only other at-bat in three innings of work. "I'd rather hit the ball hard than strike out. I've always had a natural progression to prepare myself for the season."

The A's quickly posted two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first inning against right-hander Marco Estrada, courtesy of a two-run double off the bat of shortstop Jed Lowrie.

But the first of two homers from Francisco, in competition with Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds for the first-base job, put the Brewers back on top. In between, left fielder Khris Davis contributed with an RBI single.

Following Milone's departure, the A's got their first in-game look at non-roster invitee Philip Humber, who gave up one unearned run in one inning of work. Closer Jim Johnson pitched the fourth inning in his A's spring debut, allowing three hits, including Francisco's second homer -- a two-run shot.

Josh Reddick didn't make any more Spiderman catches in right field, a day after he robbed the Giants' Michael Morse of two home runs, but the A's outfielder did collect a pair of hits, including a fourth-inning double.

Braun goes deep early as Brewers return to action

Ryan Braun hit the second pitch he saw for a two-run homer in his first at-bat for the Brewers since completing a 65-game drug suspension, and teammate Juan Francisco homered twice in a 11-3 victory over the host A's on Thursday.

Christening their Cactus League season at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the Brewers got right to work against A's starter Tommy Milone, who was rattled for four hits, including two home runs, in just two innings in his first spring appearance. The lefty, trying to regain a rotation spot, walked two and struck out one.

Milone walked leadoff man Jean Segura, setting up Braun's anticipated at-bat one out later. Braun, who was greeted by a hearty round of cheers from Brewers fans behind the visiting dugout, swung through the first pitch he saw but didn't miss on the next one, lining a fastball over the left-field wall for an early two-run lead.

"It's still the first day of Spring Training," said Braun, who grounded out in his only other at-bat in three innings of work. "I'd rather hit the ball hard than strike out. I've always had a natural progression to prepare myself for the season."

The A's quickly posted two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first inning against right-hander Marco Estrada, courtesy of a two-run double off the bat of shortstop Jed Lowrie.

But the first of two homers from Francisco, in competition with Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds for the first-base job, put the Brewers back on top. In between, left fielder Khris Davis contributed with an RBI single.

Following Milone's departure, the A's got their first in-game look at non-roster invitee Philip Humber, who gave up one unearned run in one inning of work. Closer Jim Johnson pitched the fourth inning in his A's spring debut, allowing three hits, including Francisco's second homer -- a two-run shot.

Josh Reddick didn't make any more Spiderman catches in right field, a day after he robbed the Giants' Michael Morse of two home runs, but the A's outfielder did collect a pair of hits, including a fourth-inning double.

Cueto looks sharp in two innings in spring debut

Thursday's exhibition game between the Reds and Indians featured each clubs' aces. Both fared well in their 2014 debuts before the Indians took a 12-3 victory at Goodyear Ballpark.

Cleveland used a five-run top of the fifth inning after the starters were long gone to snap a 2-2 tie and move ahead for good.

Johnny Cueto, who made three trips to the disabled list last season with a strained right lat muscle, showed no signs of trouble. He pitched two scoreless innings with one hit, two walks and two strikeouts. In the first inning, Cueto gave up a one-out double down the left-field line to Mike Aviles before escaping. His two walks came in the second inning but he escaped by getting a lineout and a strikeout.

"I felt great. I felt nothing," said Cueto, who started the previous two Opening Days for the Reds. The club has not named this season's rotation as of yet.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland's likely Opening Day starter, pitched one scoreless inning with one hit and two strikeouts. Billy Hamilton led off with the first inning with a lined single to left-center field and advanced two bases when Aviles' cutoff throw from shortstop to first base went for an error into the seats.

"In a live game, you get a little amped up early on," Masterson said. "That's always my battle -- getting a little amped up. I had to settle down a little bit and try to throw some four-seamers and some sinkers."

Cincinnati scored first in the bottom of the second against Corey Kluber. Zack Cozart hit a two-run double to left field before he was thrown out at third base trying for a triple.

In the top of the fourth against Reds lefty David Holmberg, Elliot Johnson hit his first home run of spring with a game-tying two-run shot to left field on a first pitch.

Prospect Daniel Corcino entered for the Reds in the fifth and struggled to allow four runs with one hit and three walks. Corcino gave up an RBI ground-rule double to left field by Erik Gonzalez. The Reds lifted Corcino with the bases loaded. Lefty Ismael Guillon's first batter, Jake Lowery, crushed a 1-0 pitch for a grand slam to right field.

With one out in the sixth against Guillon, Nyjer Morgan hit a RBI double off of the wall in right-center field. Guillon let another run in on a wild pitch.

Manager Bryan Price wasn't too concerned with all the runs his team gave up.

"We were up in the zone and situations, especially here, you get some balls up in the air and they hit some balls real well," he said. "You give up 12 runs on 12 hits, that usually means there were some extra base hits and some walks involved also. It's going to get a lot better. These early outings for me don't carry a whole lot of credence or any barometer."

It was the first game this spring as a third baseman for Indians star Carlos Santana, who converted from catcher. Santana played two innings in the field without a ball being hit his way.

Lowery crushes grand slam in Cactus debut

Thursday's exhibition game between the Reds and Indians featured each clubs' aces. Both fared well in their 2014 debuts before the Indians took a 12-3 victory at Goodyear Ballpark.

Cleveland used a five-run top of the fifth inning after the starters were long gone to snap a 2-2 tie and move ahead for good.

Johnny Cueto, who made three trips to the disabled list last season with a strained right lat muscle, showed no signs of trouble. He pitched two scoreless innings with one hit, two walks and two strikeouts. In the first inning, Cueto gave up a one-out double down the left-field line to Mike Aviles before escaping. His two walks came in the second inning but he escaped by getting a lineout and a strikeout.

"I felt great. I felt nothing," said Cueto, who started the previous two Opening Days for the Reds. The club has not named this season's rotation as of yet.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland's likely Opening Day starter, pitched one scoreless inning with one hit and two strikeouts. Billy Hamilton led off with the first inning with a lined single to left-center field and advanced two bases when Aviles' cutoff throw from shortstop to first base went for an error into the seats.

"In a live game, you get a little amped up early on," Masterson said. "That's always my battle -- getting a little amped up. I had to settle down a little bit and try to throw some four-seamers and some sinkers."

Indians manager Terry Francona liked what he saw from Masterson.

"Masty out of the box was pretty good," he said. "He had some movement on his two-seamer. One inning of work, you're not going to see a whole lot of pitches, which is good."

Cincinnati scored first in the bottom of the second against Corey Kluber. Zack Cozart hit a two-run double to left field before he was thrown out at third base trying for a triple.

In the top of the fourth against Reds lefty David Holmberg, Elliot Johnson hit his first home run of spring with a game-tying two-run shot to left field on a first pitch.

Prospect Daniel Corcino entered for the Reds in the fifth and struggled to allow four runs with one hit and three walks. Corcino gave up an RBI ground-rule double to left field by Erik Gonzalez. The Reds lifted Corcino with the bases loaded. Lefty Ismael Guillon's first batter, Jake Lowery, crushed a 1-0 pitch for a grand slam to right field.

With one out in the sixth against Guillon, Nyjer Morgan hit a RBI double off of the wall in right-center field. Guillon let another run in on a wild pitch.

It was the first game this spring as a third baseman for Indians star Carlos Santana, who converted from catcher. Santana played two innings in the field without a ball being hit his way.

Francona commented on the flurry of runs after the game.

"Today was a Spring Training day. The ball was carrying all over the place," he said. "Fortunately for us, our pitchers for the most part kept it on the ground. They did a good job. We got some balls up in the wind. It was good."

Uribe homers, Guerrero gets first RBI vs. D-backs

Juan Uribe homered and drove in two runs and RBI singles by Brendan Harris and Alex Guerrero gave the Dodgers a 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, but starting pitcher Zack Greinke left in the first inning with a mild right calf strain.

Greinke left while facing the second batter of the game. He was replaced by Chris Withrow, who got the final two outs in the first inning but was touched up for two runs in the second on an RBI double by Shelley Duncan and on a fielder's-choice grounder by Tony Campana.

The Dodgers scored in the second inning off Randall Delgado when a leadoff ground-rule double by Adrian Gonzalez was followed by singles from Mike Baxter and Juan Uribe. Baxter started in place of Carl Crawford, who strained a right quad muscle on Wednesday. Delgado was removed after 3 2/3 innings when he reached his 60-pitch limit.

"I made good pitches and felt good," said Delgado. "It was good for me to face their big league lineup for my first Spring Training game."

Arizona left fielder Danny Dorn made a diving catch of Hanley Ramirez's line drive and turned it into an inning-ending double play in the fifth inning.

Five Dodgers starting position players were in the lineup, while the D-backs sent nearly their entire starting lineup to their other split-squad game against the Cubs.

Uribe tied the game leading off the bottom of the fourth with a home run into the Dodgers bullpen, greeting Arizona reliever RJ Hively.

Duncan drives in another run against Dodgers

Designated hitter Shelley Duncan drove in a run for his second time in as many games this spring, while Randall Delgado struck out two over 3 2/3 innings in his exhibition debut on Thursday in the D-backs' split-squad's 4-3 loss to the Dodgers.

"I made good pitches and felt good," said Delgado. "It was good for me to face their big league lineup for my first Spring Training game."

Juan Uribe homered and drove in two runs and RBI singles by Brendan Harris and Alex Guerrero led the Dodgers' offense, but starting pitcher Zack Greinke left in the first inning with a mild right calf strain.

Greinke left while facing the second batter of the game. He was replaced by Chris Withrow, who got the final two outs in the first inning but was touched up for two runs in the second on an RBI double by Duncan and on a fielder's-choice grounder by Tony Campana.

The Dodgers scored in the second inning off Delgado when a leadoff ground-rule double by Adrian Gonzalez was followed by singles from Mike Baxter and Juan Uribe. Baxter started in place of Carl Crawford, who strained a right quad muscle on Wednesday.

Arizona left fielder Danny Dorn made a diving catch of Hanley Ramirez's line drive and turned it into an inning-ending double play in the fifth inning.

Five Dodgers starting position players were in the lineup, while the D-backs sent nearly their entire starting lineup to their other split-squad game against the Cubs.

Uribe tied the game leading off the bottom of the fourth with a home run into the Dodgers bullpen, greeting Arizona reliever RJ Hively.

Starlin goes 2-for-2 in debut of Cubs Park

Eric Chavez hit the first home run at Cubs Park, a two-run shot in the fifth, and Paul Goldschmidt added a two-run single in the sixth to lift the D-backs to a 5-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday, spoiling the North Siders' Cactus League opener at their new stadium.

The game drew a Cactus League-record crowd of 14,486, breaking the mark of 13,721 set last March 23 between the Dodgers and White Sox in Glendale.

Bronson Arroyo, making his first start for Arizona, gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits over three innings.

This was not only the first game at Cubs Park, but Rick Renteria's first as a Major League manager.

"It feels just like another game," the Cubs' new skipper said. "We're getting ready for the season and today's the first day of basically a test to see how everybody's doing. We're going to use [Spring Training] to see what aspects of the game we need to improve on and basically see where everybody's at."

So no butterflies?

"No," Renteria said, smiling.

Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija may have had a few. He walked leadoff batter Gerardo Parra but settled down and did not give up a run over two innings. The Cubs' Opening Day starter last season, Samardzija was up for the test.

"It was good to come out and face these guys," Samardzija said of the D-backs. "I've faced them a lot the last few years. I know they make me work. They see pitches and make you throw in the zone -- they don't get themselves out. They have a nice lineup one through nine."

Emilio Bonifacio tripled to lead off the Chicago first and scored on Luis Valbuena's groundout. With two outs in the third, Valbuena reached on a passed ball by catcher Miguel Montero on strike three, then scored on Starlin Castro's double.