SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Well, dang, aren’t the Royals rolling again?
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Johnny Giavotella and David Lough paced an 20-hit attack Saturday afternoon that carried the Royals to a 13-2 bludgeoning of the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Royals opened the game with a six-run first inning and had a 13-0 lead and 18 hits before the Giants collected their first hit — a one-out triple by ex-Royal Gregor Blanco in the sixth inning.
Top prospect Yordano Ventura drew the start in place of an ailing Wade Davis and delivered three sparkling innings. Ventura walked two while striking out two.
“It was very good today,” he said. “In the first inning, I was a little up. But the second and third innings felt good. My breaking ball and changeup were good, and the fastball, I threw hard and down.”
Ventura worked his fastball at 95-96 mph and touched 99.
“We call him Ace for a reason,” Giavotella said. “He has unbelievable stuff. You can just see the velocity explode out of his hand.”
The victory boosted the Royals to 12-1-1. They endured two rainouts Friday after their unbeaten run through the Cactus League ended Thursday in a 12-2 loss to Seattle.
Giavotella went three for four with four RBIs, while Lough boosted his spring average to .565 by going three for four with two RBIs. Billy Butler also had three hits.
The Royals opened Saturday’s game by getting hits from six of their first seven batters against Yusmeiro Petit. Brett Hayes capped the explosion with a three-run double.
Giavotella’s two-run single extended the lead to 8-0 in the second inning and knocked out Petit. Giavotella and Hayes then contributed RBI singles to a three-run fourth that made it 11-0.
How good was Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura?
Manager Ned Yost reported, “The umpire came over in the second inning, Ron Kulpa, and said, `Who is this kid? And wow! This kid is some kind of nasty.’ I said, `Yeah, he’s pretty good’”
Louis Coleman turned in a strong one-two-three fourth inning after replacing Ventura. Coleman struck out Hunter Pence, retired Buster Posey on a soft grounder to short and struck out Brandon Belt.
“Louis was as sharp as he’s been all year,” Yost said. “His slider was nasty. It had good downward bite to it. Good tilt on it. He spotted his fastball with life on it. It was his best inning, by far, this spring.”
Two late Friday roster moves you might have missed: catcher Manny Pina and outfielder Luis Durango were reassigned to minor-league camp.
Those moves followed four cuts earlier Friday: left-handed pitcher Noel Arguelles was optioned to Class AA Northwest Arkansas; and catcher Julio Rodriguez, lefty Ryan Verdugo and righty Sugar Ray Marimon were reassigned to minor-league camp.
The Royals have 55 active players in big-league camp, although that includes eight who are participating in the World Baseball Classic.
Right-hander Wade Davis threw a bullpen session Saturday in Surprise and is slotted to rejoin the rotation Friday against San Diego at Surprise Stadium.
The Royals scrubbed Davis from Saturday’s scheduled start because of inflammation at the back of his shoulder.
The double rainout Friday prompted the Royals to send five pitchers to minor-league intrasquad games Saturday to stay on a regular work schedule: Everett Teaford, Chris Dwyer, Justin Marks, Brian Sanches and Blaine Boyer.
The Royals also posted their pitching plans for the five games following Monday’s open date.
Tuesday vs. Oakland in Phoenix: James Shields, Greg Holland, J.C. Gutierrez, Donnie Joseph, Everett Teaford and Louis Coleman.
Wednesday vs. Seattle in Surprise: Ervin Santana, Guillermo Moscoso, Aaron Crow, Nate Adcock, Dan Wheeler, Brian Sanches and Blaine Boyer.
Thursday vs. Cleveland in Goodyear: Jeremy Guthrie, Gutierrez, Francisley Bueno, Michael Mariot, Holland and Joseph.
Friday (SS) vs. San Diego in Surprise: Wade Davis and Coleman.
Friday (SS) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale: Will Smith.
The battle for the final spot in the rotation takes center stage again Sunday when Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen pitch in a piggyback arrangement against the Los Angeles Angels at Surprise Stadium.
Hochevar will start. He has allowed two runs and four hits in 4 ⅔ innings in two appearances. Chen has allowed one run and two hits in five innings in two outings.
Royals (RHP Luke Hochevar) vs. Angels (RHP Tommy Hanson), at 3:05 p.m. Central time in Surprise, Ariz. Note the time. Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time.
“I see a guy who can contribute this year for us if we need him. And if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to get him up here to help us.”
— First baseman Billy Butler, on pitcher Yordano Ventura.
Countdown to Opening Day: 22 days