Royals beat Astros 3-1 in exhibition finale
HOUSTON (AP) Kansas City's Jason Vargas and Houston's Collin McHugh both ended the spring with solid starts as the Royals beat the Astros 3-1 in the exhibition finale for both teams on Saturday.
Vargas didn't allow a hit and struck out three in four innings in his best outing of the spring.
''He really did a nice job of commanding his pitches,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''His changeup was really, really good.''
It was a bounce-back performance from his last start when he yielded seven hits and five runs with four home runs in five innings. Vargas was good for the Royals last season, posting a career-best 3.71 ERA.
Vargas was happy to end the spring on a high note.
''It went well,'' he said. ''I got away with a few things, but anytime you can keep them off base it's good. It's always good for a positive mindset going into the season.''
McHugh allowed one hit and struck out three in four scoreless innings. He's is coming off a solid season in which he went 11-9 and had a career-low 2.73 ERA.
''They had a pretty good mix of righties and lefties so I was able to throw all my pitches to both sides of the plate and work on some stuff,'' McHugh said.
McHugh has worked this spring on developing his changeup and is happy with the results.
''It's coming along,'' he said. ''I threw probably seven or eight of them, some good ones, some bad ones, but I think for the most part I'm getting a better feel for it.''
Christian Colon, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft who played 21 games for Kansas City as a rookie last season, tripled to start the eighth inning and scored on a single by Gabriel Noriega that made it 2-1. The Royals tacked on another run in that inning on an error.
Houston pitchers Brad Peacock, Josh Fields and Brett Oberholtzer will all start the season on the disabled list, but are making progress in their recoveries.
Peacock, who had hip surgery this offseason, will throw in a simulated game early next week in Florida before joining one of Houston's affiliates for a start. Fields, who has a groin injury, will also throw in Florida before heading out on a rehabilitation assignment.
Oberholtzer is getting better, but still can't throw because of a blister on his left index finger and is listed as day to day.
PRAISE FOR CORREA
Carlos Correa was reassigned to minor league camp last week, but the Astros still brought the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft to Houston for this weekend's exhibition games. The 20-year-old shortstop rated as Houston's top prospect will start the season at Double-A Corpus Christi. Though he isn't quite ready for the majors, manager A.J. Hinch was impressed with his work with the big league club this spring.
''He had a great spring both in what he did on the field and how he interacted with the older players,'' Hinch said. ''He can't go anywhere without being known and without the bull's-eye on his chest as the No. 1 pick overall and a top prospect in the game. But he doesn't let that deter him from his preparation and how he goes about his business. He's a mature kid that has a ton of talent and a bright future ahead.''
Royals: Work out Sunday in Kansas City before opening the season at home against the White Sox on Monday. Yordano Ventura, who signed a five-year, $23 million contract on Saturday, will oppose Jeff Samardzija in the opener.
Astros: Off on Sunday before hosting the Indians on Monday. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will get his first career opening day start against 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.