SURPRISE, Ariz. — Everything is magnified, even in intrasquad games, for players battling for spots on the 25-man roster. So David Lough’s homer Wednesday, which produced the only run in a 1-0 victory, was no small thing.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Sta
Lough, 27, spent six seasons in the minors before batting .237 in 20 games last season after making his major-league debut following a Sept. 1 promotion. He faces a stiff challenge to retain a spot if the Royals, as expected, break camp with four outfielders.
“I’m here to compete,” he said, “and that’s what I did in that at-bat – against a left-hander, too. I just got a good pitch and put a good swing on it.”
Lough’s blast came while leading off the fifth (and final) inning against Ryan Verdugo on a chilly, overcast day on the George Brett Field. It lifted the USA to a victory over the World team after the two squads battled Tuesday to a 5-5 tie in 61/2 innings.
“It was a 1-1 count,” Lough said. “He threw me something off-speed the pitch before, and I was just gearing up for the fastball. I got a good swing on it, and I ended up putting it out.”
The USA/World breakdown extended throughout the rosters Tuesday but didn’t apply Wednesday to the pitching staffs. Example: Luke Hochevar and Greg Holland worked the first two innings for the World team.
The World actually got short-changed in the final inning. It had a runner on first with two outs against Atahualpa Severino when the on-field staff declared the inning over because of Severino’s pitch count.
“It was just a good day,” manager Ned Yost said. “The pitching was pretty good. Hoch looked really good. The weather gave us a break. It was actually quite nice (after some morning showers) for about four innings, and then it got a little cool.
“It’s good for these guys to get an inning under their belt. It’s just kind of a walk-through inning. They get their feet on the ground, and now they’re ready for the (Cactus League) games to start on Friday.”
The two teams combined for just eight hits against 10 pitchers over the five innings. John Lamb opened with a strong 12-pitch first inning for the USA, which included a strikeout of Alcides Escobar.
Aaron Crow and Louis Coleman each had one-two-three innings.
Another dozen signed
The Royals announced contract agreements with 12 more players, which leaves just five unsigned players on their 40-man roster. None of the 17 are yet eligible for arbitration, which leaves them with little negotiating leverage.
The 12 new signees consist of six pitchers and six position players.
The pitchers: reliever Greg Holland for $539,500; reliever Tim Collins $534,500; reliever Kelvin Herrera $508,175; starter Danny Duffy $505,125; starter Will Smith $496,500 and starter John Lamb $490,000.
The position players: first baseman Eric Hosmer $528,250; third baseman Mike Moustakas $524,500; utilityman Elliot Johnson $520,500; outfielder Lorenzo Cain $503,175; second baseman Johnny Giavotella $494,000; and outfielder David Lough $491,625.
All salaries are for a full season of major-league service. Players receive far less if optioned to the minors. Johnson is the only player among the latest signees who is out of options. The major-league minimum salary for 2013 is $490,000.
The five remaining unsigned players are all pitchers: Francisley Bueno, Aaron Crow, Louis Coleman, Luis Mendoza and Guillermo Moscoso.
Missing in action
None of the Royals’ top four starters – James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis – took part in either intrasquad game because of plans to ease them into the spring routine.
“They’re not pitching until the fifth or sixth game of spring training,” Yost said. “So we didn’t want to throw them an inning and have them sit five or six days. They’ll do a live BP before they go out. It’s just about the same thing.
“Spring training is so long. We target how many starts we want them to get. We backed them off the first week. We’ll see a bunch of the younger starters going in the first week, and then we’ll start incorporating (the front four) in the rotation.”
The Royals posted tentative pitching plans for their first four Cactus League games:
Friday vs. Texas: Will Smith, Yordano Ventura, Justin Marks, Nate Adcock, Sugar Ray Marimon, Michael Mariot and Blaine Boyer.
Saturday vs. Texas: Guillermo Moscoso, Francisley Bueno, Brian Sanches, Dan Wheeler, Ryan Verdugo, Donnie Joseph and Atahualpa Severino.
Sunday vs. Texas: Luis Mendoza, John Lamb, Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera, Louis Coleman and some TBAs.
Monday vs. Arizona: Chris Dwyer, Noel Arguelles, J.C. Gutierrez and several TBAs.
Wade Davis is slotted to start Tuesday against Cleveland in Goodyear, Ariz.
Teaford tuning up
Lefty Everett Teaford tested his sore shoulder by making throws from 75 feet prior to the regular workout. It marked his second throwing workout since an impingement limited his range of motion in a Feb. 13 bullpen session.
“I threw Tuesday at 60 feet,” he said, “and it was good. Today at 75. I think we’re on a pretty rapid pace. I hope so because I’m tired of watching.”
The annual rankings by Baseball America of the top 100 prospects contain three Royals: right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer at No. 24, outfielder Bubba Starling at No. 35 and right-hander Yordano Ventura at No. 85.
The list also contained two of the four prospects traded to Tampa Bay in the big off-season deal to acquire pitchers James Shields, Wade Davis and infielder Elliot Johnson: outfielder Wil Myers at No. 4 and right-hander Jake Odorizzi at No. 92.
The Royals are a 25-1 shot to win the American League pennant and a 50-1 shot to win the World Series in the latest odds posted by bovada.lv, an online gambling service. Their over-under line for victories is 78.5.
Toronto ranks as the service’s favorite to win the World Series at 7-1, followed by Detroit at 8-1, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals at 17-2 and the Los Angeles Angels at 9-1.
The longest odds belong to Houston at 200-1.
It was 44 years ago Thursday – Feb. 21, 1969 – that 46 players gathered in Fort Myers, Fla., for the first spring workout in Royals’ history. This year’s camp roster has 61 players.
The Royals kept their spring camp in Fort Myers through 1988 before shifting to Baseball City, Fla., which is near Orlando. They moved to Surprise in 2003.