Mike Moustakas continues to pummel the Cactus League. He swatted his third homer of the spring, a three-run shot that put the Royals ahead, and added an RBI single in 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks.
Moustakas has been the talk of this camp thus far, with team officials raving about both his physical condition and his mental fortitude. He has responded with high-quality at-bats in this more relaxed atmosphere, and driven in 10 runs thus far.
“The work that he’s done all winter long, it’s paying off, and it’s showing,” manager Ned Yost said. “He had four RBI today off left-handed pitchers. It’s just something we kind of expected from him, to come back and have a good year.”
Facing Patrick Corbin, a southpaw who dominates left-handed hitters, Moustakas cracked a run-scoring single in the first inning. The Royals picked up another run in the fourth on a bloop single by utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco.
After Chris Dwyer gave up four runs, Moustakas stepped in against Joe Paterson. Moustakas crushed the ball over the fence in right.
In the early going, James Shields turned in three crisp, scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and struck out three.
“I felt really good out there,” Shields said. “I felt my delivery was solid.”Arms race
With Luke Hochevar out of the mix, there are three candidates remaining in the fifth-starter race: Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and Wade Davis. The team will continue to utilize Brad Penny and Chris Dwyer, but their hopes are slim.
“One of those three guys, or somebody has to go down” for the others to have a shot, Yost said.Medical updates
Hochevar will miss at least two months with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The team will shut him down for three weeks with the hopes he will not require season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Omar Infante (shoulder inflammation) went 2-4 with a walk. Yost intends to pair him in the field with shortstop Alcides Escobar on Friday.
Ramon Hernandez, one of the options at backup catcher, is also expected to play on Friday. One of his knees has been “barking” Yost said.
Alex Gordon fouled a ball off his right shin on Tuesday, and sat out against Arizona. But Yost insisted his day off was planned, and Gordon felt fine.Etc.
Jeremy Guthrie will pitch in a simulated game against Royals minor leaguers on Saturday morning. John Lamb will start in his place as the team travels to the Brewers’ complex in Maryvalle. Yost considers this a reward for Lamb’s efforts thus far.
“My focus for Jeremy is to get his work in,” Yost said. “And give Lamb a shot to go over there and pitch two, three innings.”Up next
The Royals host the White Sox at Surprise Stadium. Jason Vargas will start, with Penny behind him. Donnie Joseph, an option for the second lefty spot in the bullpen, will also pitch.Quote
“It’s spring training, all right? But it’s got to start somewhere.” — Ned Yost, on Mike Moustakas’ continued Cactus League success.