Royals

With Perez in doubt, Royals take long look at catcher Viloria in Sunday win vs. Indians

Ned Yost all smiles after Royals rally for spring training win over the Indians

Royals manager Ned Yost discusses what about his team's play put a smile on his face following a 13-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in Cactus League play at Goodyear Ballpark on Sunday, March 3, 2019.
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Royals manager Ned Yost discusses what about his team's play put a smile on his face following a 13-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in Cactus League play at Goodyear Ballpark on Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Royals infielder Chris Owings’ sixth-inning grand slam, his second home run of the spring, capped an eight-run inning and gave the Royals a one-run lead. They tacked on five more runs in the ninth to capture a 13-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in front of an announced 5,514 at Goodyear Ballpark.

Catcher Meibrys Viloria, 22, went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs and two walks. He also became the first player this spring to catch all nine innings in a Cactus League game.

Viloria’s performance came the day after general manager Dayton Moore said Viloria and Cam Gallagher were the organization’s first choices to replace All-Star Salvador Perez if he needs season-ending surgery.

“I tried to (let) everybody see I can play, I can play everyday,” Viloria said. “I’m trying to do my job. That’s it, just do my job and play hard.”

Viloria, who didn’t know going into the day that he’d play the full nine innings, is viewed as a good young defensive catcher who handles the pitching staff well. He received a September call-up from High-A Wilmington to the majors last season.

“I think we’re going to find that he’s probably going to be a better hitter than he was in the minor leagues,” Royals manager Ned Yost said after Sunday’s game. “He’s going to see better pitching. But even last year with us at the end of the year, he put together really really good at-bats. We’re pleased with where he’s at.”

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Tough day: Royals pitcher Chris Ellis, acquired this offseason via the Rule 5 Draft, gave up seven runs on eight hits in two innings. He allowed a pair of home runs in the second inning after having allowed four runs in the first. He came into the day having allowed three runs in two innings in his first outing of the spring.

Best yet: Relief pitcher Kyle Zimmer pitched his third scoreless outing of the spring. He allowed two hits and struck out one in two innings. His two innings were sandwiched around the Royals’ eight-run sixth, during which he had to try to stay loose on the bench. He described this outing as his “best one yet.”

Up next: The Royals will have their first off-day of camp on Monday. They’ll resume Cactus League play on Tuesday evening against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Surprise Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. (MT) and KCSP 610 AM will broadcast the game on the radio.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.

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