Royals spoil James Shields’ strong start, lose to Chicago Cubs split squad 6-5

03/16/2014 10:57 AM

03/16/2014 10:57 AM

James Shields manhandled a collection of Cubs minor leaguers in a 6-5 Royals loss on Saturday afternoon. Shields struck out 10 in six scoreless innings, but Tim Collins blew a one-run lead in a rough ninth inning. He allowed three runs and took the loss.

Shields was facing a split-squad lineup. The rest of the Cubs were in Las Vegas for an exhibition series with the Mets. Shields toyed with prospects like Junior Lake, Mike Olt and Josh Vitters.

The only hit he allowed occurred in the third inning. Johnny Giavotella stumbled when fielding a grounder that kicked off Shields’ leg. It was ruled an infield single.

“I was giving Gio a hard time in that last inning,” Shields said. “I said, ‘If I don’t give up a hit, you know this is all your fault, right?’ 

Giavotella made up for it at the plate. Jarrod Dyson opened the Royals’ scoring with a solo home run off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. Giavotella crushed a two-run homer of his own in the third. Giavotella plated another run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Giavotella’s chances to make this club are slim. But he is batting .333 this spring.

“I think it’s going well,” Giavotella said. “I think I’m making the most of my opportunities, having confidence in my game when I go out there. And I think that makes a world of difference.”

Arms race

Even if he doesn’t like talking about it, Yost appears close to choosing between Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy for the fifth spot. Ventura is the favorite.

His ERA in three appearances in 2.89. Duffy’s ERA is 11.00. This past week provided an even starker dichotomy: Ventura struck out six in 4 1/3 innings of one-run baseball against Oakland on Wednesday; Duffy gave up five runs in two frames against the A’s on Friday.

“Here’s the thing,” Yost said. “Ventura had a great outing. Duffy had a bad outing. We’re still going to buy time. We’ve got different thoughts, different things that we’re looking at. When we make the decision, we make the decision.”

Medical updates

Shortstop Alcides Escobar won’t play in a game until Wednesday, manager Ned Yost said. Escobar is still recovering from a cortisone shot on Wednesday to combat the inflammation in his right shoulder.

After an injection, a player generally requires three days off. Then Escobar needs a few days to start a throwing program.

Yost has said Escobar requires about 10 days of action to be ready for the season. Second baseman Omar Infante has not reported any issues since returning to action from a similar condition this week. He missed 11 days in the field with a sore arm.

Ramon Hernandez is still considered in the mix for the backup catching spot, but he has yet to actually catch a game. His sore knee has limited him to only playing first base. Yost hopes he can catch a game on Sunday.

“We’ll see how he feels,” Yost said.

Brett Hayes appears in good position to back up Salvador Perez. But Adam Moore is also still in camp. “If you’re here, you’re still in the mix,” Yost said.

Etc.

The Royals received an early-morning pep talk from two members of the Wounded Warriors softball team. Josh Wege and Justin Feagin, who lost limbs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, addressed a massive crowd of minor leaguers, major leaguers, team executives, coaches and support staff. Later the team played an exhibition game against members of the minor-league staff.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to see those guys and see what they do,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said.

The Royals optioned former first-round pick Christian Colon to Class AAA Omaha on Friday afternoon. He will play every day there, and rotate between second base, third base and shortstop.

“Because that will be his role when he gets here,” Yost said.

Up next

The bus heads back to Peoria, where the Royals will play the Padres. Jason Vargas gets the start. Kelvin Herrera will appear as part of a back-to-back stint. He threw two innings in a minor-league game earlier this week. The game starts at 3:05 p.m. Central, and can be heard on KCSP (610 AM).

Quote

“It was a good outing, man.” — James Shields, on his dominant performance.

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