Royals

Jason Hammel shines, Matt Strahm stumbles in Royals' 10-6 loss to the Reds

jsleezer@kcstar.com

On a day manager Ned Yost solidified the Royals’ starting rotation, Jason Hammel offered the latest evidence that the unit could be vastly improved in 2017.

The day began with Yost announcing right-hander Nathan Karns as the club’s No. 5 starter. It continued at Surprise Stadium in the afternoon, where Hammel yielded just one run in 5 1/3 innings in a 10-6 loss the Cincinnati Reds.

The Royals’ relief corps would crumble in the eighth inning, when left-hander Matt Strahm was tagged for five runs while recording just one out. For Strahm, who will work out of the back end of the bullpen, it was the ugliest performance of his spring. Before Monday, he had not allowed a run.

“Just one of those days,” manager Ned Yost said.

If that is the case, there was perhaps just as much good as bad on Monday. Hammel struck out five and walked one while throwing 76 pitches. The performance came just 13 hours after starter Ian Kennedy twirled six scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs. It came two days after left-hander Danny Duffy helped the United States defeat the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic.

Spring success does not always correlate to the regular season. But after winning the World Series with the Cubs last year, Hammel stood near his locker Monday and offered his endorsement for the Royals’ five-man rotation.

“Honestly, I really believe if we come out and throw strikes and use our fielders and the defense we have behind us, we should be a really good rotation,” Hammel said.

Right-hander Jason Hammel agreed to a two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals after a successful stint with the Chicago Cubs.

In 2016, the Royals starting unit finished 12th in the American League in earned run average, posting a combined 4.67 ERA. The offseason saw the departure of right-hander Edinson Volquez and the tragic death of starter Yordano Ventura.

On the field, the Royals searched for a way to move forward. They targeted experience and consistency in signing Hammel to a two-year, $12 million contract in early February.

On Monday, he crafted his most dynamic outing of the spring. He used his slider and fastball to keep the Reds off balance. He emphasized using his changeup, a spring focus. In his next start, he said, he will add his curveball to his bag of weapons.

“Good mix today,” he said.

Hammel will make one more Cactus League start Sunday, and he could use two exhibition games against the Rangers in Texas as one final tune-up before the regular season. The Royals have not set the rotation schedule for the first week of the season. But based on the order this week, it appears that Hammel could start the third game of the season-opening series at Minnesota on April 6.

“Overall, I feel great,” Hammel said. “The curveball is the last thing I need to add, but I feel good with that right now, too. I’m ready to go.”

The arms

Before Monday, Strahm had thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings at spring training, resembling the pitcher who fortified the Royals’ bullpen during the second half of 2016.

On Monday, he was knocked around for five runs while recording one out against the Cincinnati Reds.

“Strahm was just flat and off today,” Yost said.

Strahm was hounded by a collection of singles before allowing a double down the right-field line to Reds pitcher Tim Adleman. It was the hardest hit ball of the inning.

“First time I’ve really seen him like that,” Yost said. “But it happens.”

The regular guys

Yost said that catcher Salvador Perez will return to the lineup at designated hitter on Wednesday after missing 10 days following a collision at the World Baseball Classic. On a hot afternoon on Monday, a collection of regulars, including Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, took the day off.

Alex Gordon took a rotation at DH and finished 1 for 3, his spring average falling to .400. Brandon Moss, who is batting .222 this spring, was 0 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout.

The young guys

With a patchwork lineup in place, the offense was led by the bat of first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, who finished with an RBI double and a two-run blast off Adleman in the bottom of the sixth.

The homer — O’Hearn’s second of the spring — was a majestic shot, clearing the grass berm in right-center field. As he trotted around third base, Gordon watched where the ball landed, then looked over at third-base coach Mike Jirschele.

O’Hearn’s days in big-league camp are limited. When first baseman Eric Hosmer returns from the World Baseball Classic later this week, O’Hearn will be relegated to the minor-league side. But for another day, he made the most of his opportunity.

“We liked O’Hearn last year when we saw him at times up here,” Yost said. “… He’s going to be a good player.”

REDS 10, ROYALS 6

REDS 10, ROYALS 6

Cincinnati AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

J.Praza 2b

3

0

0

0

0

0

.319

J.Perez 2b

3

1

2

2

0

1

.286

T.Renda rf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.297

C.Walker rf

2

0

0

0

0

0

.194

J.Votto 1b

3

1

1

0

0

0

.167

Elizalde 1b

1

1

0

0

0

1

.143

A.Duvall lf

3

0

1

0

0

1

.243

Iribarren lf

2

2

2

1

0

0

.333

E.Suarez ss

3

0

1

0

0

1

.286

Z.Vincej ss

1

1

1

0

0

0

.212

Schebler cf

1

0

0

1

1

0

.270

Alcantara cf

2

1

2

3

0

0

.262

Mesoraco c

2

0

1

0

0

1

.286

S.Turner c

3

1

1

0

0

0

.435

Kivlehan 3b

3

1

1

0

0

1

.375

Jagielo 3b

2

0

0

0

0

2

.000

R.Davis sp

1

0

0

0

0

1

.500

J.Winker ph

1

0

1

0

0

0

.316

Adleman rp

1

1

1

2

0

0

.500

Wallach ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.273

Totals 41

10

15

9

1

10

 

TableStyle: SP-basebattersCCI Template: SP-basebatters

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Mondesi ss

3

0

1

0

0

1

.417

Arteaga ss

2

0

2

3

0

0

.241

A.Gordon dh

3

1

1

0

0

0

.400

Schwindel ph

2

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Orlando rf

4

1

1

0

0

0

.278

Br.Moss lf

2

0

0

0

1

1

.222

Hernandez lf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.333

O’Hearn 1b

4

1

2

3

0

1

.233

Merrifield 3b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.262

Cecchini 3b

1

1

1

0

0

0

.150

C.Colon 2b

3

0

0

0

0

1

.308

O’Brien c

1

0

0

0

0

1

.333

Br.Pena c

3

0

1

0

0

0

.375

Te.Gore pr

1

1

0

0

0

1

.231

B.Burns cf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.250

D.Burt 2b

1

1

1

0

0

0

.500

Totals 36

6

11

6

1

6

 

TableStyle: SP-basebyinningsCCI Template: SP-basebyinnings

Cincinnati

000

001

180

10

15

0

Kansas City

000

102

102

6

11

1

E: Mondesi (5). DP: Cincinnati 0, Kansas City 2. LOB: Cincinnati 9, Kansas City 5. 2B: Perez (1), Votto (2), Adleman (1), O’Hearn (4). 3B: Perez (1). HR: O’Hearn (2). SB: Schebler (1), Gore (4). SF: Schebler (3).

TableStyle: SP-basepitchersCCI Template: SP-basepitchers

Cincinnati

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Davis

4

4

1

1

1

3

3.27

Astin

1

0

0

0

0

0

1.17

Adleman W, 2-2

3

4

3

3

0

1

10.66

Peralta

1

3

2

2

0

2

6.23

TableStyle: SP-basepitchersCCI Template: SP-basepitchers

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Hammel

5  1/3

3

1

1

1

5

3.14

Alburquerque

 2/3

2

0

0

0

0

4.70

Herrera

1

2

1

1

0

1

3.60

Strahm L, 0-1

 1/3

6

6

6

0

1

6.23

Parnell

 2/3

2

2

2

0

0

16.50

Stout

1

0

0

0

0

3

1.13

Blown saves: Alburquerque (10, Strahm (1). Hold: Herrera (1). HBP—by: Davis (Merrifield), Parnell (Elizalde). WP: Strahm.

Umpires: Home, Chris Segal; First, Mark Ripperger; Second, Gabe Morales; Third, Dan Merzel. Time: 3:00. Att: 5,917.

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