Returning to the mound for the first time this spring, Royals starter Ian Kennedy worked two scoreless innings Friday in a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
As the Royals continued their first cycle through the starting rotation, Kennedy took the baton and issued one walk while cruising through his brief outing without allowing a hit. After pitching the first, Kennedy weathered a long wait while the offense exploded for five runs in the top of the second. But he returned to work an efficient second inning and needed a brief bullpen session to get his pitch count up. All in all, Kennedy said, the day served its purpose.
“I just tried to work on fastball down, down, down,” he said, before adding: “It’s just nice to knock off the rust.”
Kennedy, 32, was pitching for the first time since finishing 11-11 with a 3.68 ERA in his first season in Kansas City. Jason Hammel will be the last Royals starter to make his spring debut on Saturday, when he faces the San Francisco Giants at Surprise Stadium. Jason Vargas will make his second start of the spring in a split-squad game against the Reds in Goodyear.
The Royals improved to 5-2 in Cactus League competition. After holding the Colorado Rockies to one run on Thursday, the pitching led the way for a second straight day.
“Everybody looked sharp again today,” Yost said. “That’s two days in a row our pitching was pretty darn good from the first one to the last one.”
In his second appearance, top prospect Josh Staumont allowed one run and three hits in two innings. He also struck out two.
Reliever Kevin McCarthy was nicked for a run in the bottom of the fifth, while Luke Farrell, Yender Caramo, Eric Stout and Malcom Culver put up scoreless outings.
“I think what’s so impressive for me this year,” Yost said, “is all our young guys, they got really good stuff, but they all come in banging strikes.”
With two split-squad games on the docket on Saturday, a large collection of Royals received the day off. First baseman Eric Hosmer did not make the trip to Camelback Ranch, while Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar also rested.
With Hosmer out, Whit Merrifield drew the start at first base and thumped a triple off the wall in right-center field. Christian Colon started at shortstop and was 1 for 3 with a run scored.
The Young Guys
A familiar name to Dodgers fans here at Camelback Ranch, Raul Mondesi continued a strong start this spring, roping a solo homer to right field in the sixth inning. Mondesi, of course, is the son of former Dodgers slugger Raul Mondesi Sr. The younger Mondesi was born in Los Angeles during his father’s playing days. He finished 2 for 2 after replacing Cuthbert at second base.
Bubba Starling made the start in center field and delivered a two-run single to center off Dodgers starter Rich Hill during a five-run second inning.