How’s this for closing out the most successful spring in franchise history?
The Royals got home runs from Alex Gordon, Jeff Francoeur and Elliot Johnson on their last Cactus League swings Friday afternoon in a 5-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Surprise Stadium.
And that was mere prologue.
Outfielder Ramon Hernandez, a 25-year-old ticketed for Class AA Northwest Arkansas, crushed a leadoff homer in the eighth inning after many of the regulars had departed.
That’s notable because Hernandez batted 256 times last season at Class A Wilmington without hitting a homer.
This was a boomer, and it provided fitting punctuation to the Royals’ 25-7-2 romp through the Cactus League. They opened with an 11-0-1 run and closed with an 8-1-1 blitz.
“We’re ready to go,” manager Ned Yost said. “Everybody on the club is ready to go.”
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie yielded six hits in four inning but limited the damage to one run. He was on a loose 60-pitch limit — he threw 56 —in preparation for his first regular-season start: Thursday at Chicago.
Gordon opened their Royals’ first with his eighth spring homer for a 1-0 lead. Guthrie worked around runners in the first three innings but surrendered the tying run in the fourth on Lou Marson’s one-out grounder.
The Royals regained the lead in the fifth on bases-empty homers by Francoeur and Johnson. Both of those, like Gordon’s blast, came against Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
Yost employed his entire bullpen, except for long reliever Bruce Chen, in closing out the victory: Tim Collins, J.C. Gutierrez, Aaron Crow, Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland.
The six-man relay combined for five scoreless innings. Holland struck out the side in the ninth after a bloop single to start the inning.ARMS RACE
Right-hander Wade Davis, who slots at No. 4 in the rotation, remained in Surprise when the rest of the club departed for Chicago after the game.
Davis will pitch Saturday against a collection of minor leaguers in order to remain on schedule for his first start — April 5 in Philadelphia.
Right-hander Luis Mendoza, the fifth starter, accompanied the club and will be available Monday as a long reliever in the season opener.
If Mendoza doesn’t pitch Monday, he will likely get an extended workout Tuesday in preparation for a scheduled April 6 start against the Phillies.REGULAR GUYS
Chris Getz must wait a few days to see if his .450 average holds up for the American League spring batting title. He walked in his only plate appearance and finished at 27 for 60.
Teammate Lorenzo Cain began the day as the AL leader at .458 but went zero for two and dropped to .443 (27 for 61).STAT WRAP
Some updated odds from Bovada, an online gambling service, on the Royals: 50-1 to win the World Series; 28-1 to win the American League pennant; and 6-1 to win the AL Central.
All presented merely for discussion purposes.PERSONNEL MOVES
The Royals released preliminary rosters for the four full-season affiliates. See listing below.ETC.
Utilityman Elliot Johnson will switch to No. 23 when the regular season starts after wearing No. 80 throughout spring training following his Feb. 12 arrival from Tampa Bay as the the player to be named later in a Dec. 9 trade.
“I’m ready to be a baseball player again,” Johnson said, “instead of a wide receiver.”
First baseman/outfielder Xavier Nady wore No. 23 in spring training.ON DECK
The Royals get a true day off Saturday in Chicago before conducting an afternoon workout Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. They open the 2013 season on Monday against the White Sox.UP NEXT
Royals (RHP James Shields) vs. White Sox (LHP Chris Sale), at 3:10 p.m. Central time Monday at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.QUOTEBOOK
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing in spring training. Carry that over into the regular season. That’s what we’re hoping to do.”
| Royals left fielder Alex Gordon in looking ahead to the regular season.COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY: TWO DAYS