Luis Mendoza raised the ante Sunday afternoon in his bid to win a spot in the Royals’ rotation by working five scoreless innings in a 10-0 romp over the Chicago White Sox at Surprise Stadium.
“Of course, I want to start,” Mendoza said. “But any position they give me, I’m going to take it and try to help the team in any way I can.”
Mendoza is battling Bruce Chen to join James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis. While Chen has struggled, allowing 13 runs in 132/3 innings, Mendoza has sparkled: one run in 11 innings.
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“He’s doing his part,” manager Ned Yost acknowledged. “We’ve still got a couple of weeks left to see what happens, but it was a very nice outing today.”
The Royals, 17-4-1, made it easy for Mendoza by rebounding from successive losses with an 18-hit attack. They spanked Chicago starter Zach Stewart for four runs in the first inning on a walk and five singles.
Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur had RBI singles.
Butler added another RBI single in the second inning for a 5-0 lead. Alex Gordon’s two-out, two-run single extended the lead to 7-0 in the third. George Kottaras made it 8-0 with an RBI single in the fourth.
“Pitching was good all the way around today,” Yost said. “Hitting was good. It was a great day. Positives all around. I was trying to find a negative at the end of the day, and I couldn’t find one.”Arms race
J.C. Gutierrez bolstered his chance to win a bullpen job by posting a second straight scoreless one-inning appearance. He had allowed runs in three previous outings.
Dan Wheeler followed Gutierrez with a scoreless eighth inning. Wheeler has not permitted a run in eight innings over eight games.
A point to note in competition between Gutierrez and Wheeler: Gutierrez is on the 40-man roster and out of options; Wheeler is in camp on a minor-league contract.Regular guys
First baseman Eric Hosmer had two singles in four at-bats in his first game since rejoining the Royals after playing for the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Hosmer had singles in his first two at-bats before striking out twice.
Left fielder Alex Gordon raised his average to .500 (20 for 40) by going two for three before getting hit by a pitch in his fourth plate appearance.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain is batting .438 (14 for 32) after going two for four.Stat wrap
The Royals recorded their first shutout victory of the spring.Calling cards
Both benches received warnings after Royals reliever Nate Adcock buzzed Gordon Beckham with his first pitch in the Chicago sixth. David Purcey hit Alex Gordon in the previous inning.
There were no further incidents.Defining defense
Brandon Wood started at shortstop primarily because manager Ned Yost wanted to look at utilityman Elliot Johnson at third base.
Wood played a lot at shortstop early in his pro career before switching primarily to third base. He made a nice play in chasing down Gordon Beckham’s grounder up the middle for the first out in the sixth.
Right fielder Jarrod Dyson threw out Carlos Sanchez at third base when Sanchez tried to take an extra base after a wild throw by third baseman Anthony Seratelli, who tried for a force at second after fielding a grounder.Medical updates
Utilityman Xavier Nady continues to recover from a torn plantar facia on the bottom of his right foot that occurred while he ran to first last Wednesday after delivering a pinch RBI single against Seattle.
“It had been bothering me and bothering me,” he said. “I took a couple of days (off), and then I pinch-hit, and I felt something tear or something. I knew something wasn’t right.”
Nady, 34, agreed Dec. 18 to a minor-league contract. He was seven for 21 with five RBIs in 11 games prior to the injury.
“Now, the tear has to heal,” he said. “Hopefully, I can come back in three or four days, and the pain is tolerable. If not, I’m in trouble. I’m hoping I can come back and have a week and a half of playing.
“It’s unbelievable. I felt good. It’s just bad timing. The story of my career.”
Lefty reliever Brandon Sisk, whom the Royals traded to the Angels on Oct. 31 for pitcher Ervin Santana, is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery.Etc.
The Royals sent three regulars to a Class A game between Wilmington and Brevard County of the Milwaukee system: pitcher James Shields, catcher Salvy Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Shields shifted to the minor-league game to avoid pitching against the White Sox, whom he’ll face on April 1 in the season opener. Perez accompanied him to further their working relationship.
The Royals wanted a controlled situation for Escobar, who returned to game action for the first time since suffering muscle spasms to his lower back while running the bases March 10 against the Angels.
Shields worked six shutout innings, but recorded 23 outs -- Brevard County got four outs in many innings, which were based on pitch counts. He allowed two hits while striking out eight and walking one.
“They were swinging, that’s for sure,” said Shields, who threw 54 of 76 pitches for strikes. “Last game, I was really starting to break my curveball out. Today, I really hung it in there for strikes.”
Perez went four for four with two doubles. Escobar played just three innings but batted in each inning and went two for three with two doubles.On deck
The Royals and Rangers close this spring’s campus series — the Royals hold a 2-0-1 edge — Monday night with a marquee pitching matchup: Ervin Santana against Yu Darvish.
Santana is slotted for six innings or 75 pitches after yielding two runs and six hits in nine innings over three previous starts. He has 13 strikeouts and one walk.
Plans call for Luke Hochevar to follow Santana for his second outing since shifting to the bullpen. He retired six straight hitters Friday in two innings against San Diego.Up next COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY: 14 DAYS Royals (RHP Ervin Santana) vs. Rangers (RHP Yu Darvish), at 8:05 p.m. Central time in Surprise, Ariz.