Cano, Cruz power Mariners to 6-4 win over Royals
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Robinson Cano hit a drive over the giant batter's eye in center field for his seventh spring homer, and the Seattle Mariners rallied for a 6-4 win over a Kansas City Royals split-squad on Monday.
Cano also connected three times in Seattle's win against the Cubs on Sunday.
Nelson Cruz also homered for the Mariners, who trailed 3-0 through three innings. Cruz hit a solo drive in the fourth, and Cano went deep an inning later.
''Wow, that was a bomb,'' Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Cano's shot. ''He's feeling really good right now. Seeing the ball great. His swing's on time and we just need to keep him right there for when we get to Arlington.''
The Mariners open the season next Monday at Texas.
The spring game featured a matchup of No. 5 starting pitchers, with Seattle's Nathan Karns, named to the rotation by Servais before Monday's start, giving up two earned runs and five hits in six innings.
Karns got the outing he was looking for after a shaky stretch this spring.
''Much better. Felt like a pitcher out there. I was just trying to go in there and throw strikes, try to work ahead,'' Karns said. ''Be ahead and try not to fall behind. I knew if I found a count where I had to throw a pitch over the plate I was able to do that, and I liked the results after that.''
Kansas City's Kris Medlen pitched 4 1-3 innings and allowed two earned runs and eight hits.
''I felt really good the first three (innings),'' Medlen said. ''I changed fastball grips in the middle of my windup to Nelson Cruz, for some reason, I have no idea why ... But yes, just missed execution. And then to get in a little bit of a jam and have to challenge Robbie Cano, 2-2, 3-2. You're not going to win a lot of those battles, really. They're two really good hitters.''
Alcides Escobar tripled and scored twice for the Royals. Both teams committed two errors that led to runs.
The Mariners optioned 1B-OF Stefen Romero and LF Chris Taylor to Triple-A Tacoma, clearing the way for Luis Sardinas to make the opening-day roster as a utility infielder. Sardinas is hitting .321 with 14 RBIs in spring training.
The Mariners lost Jesus Montero on Monday when the 26-year-old first baseman was claimed off waivers by Toronto. Montero, at one time one of the majors' top catching prospects, appeared in 208 games in parts of four seasons with Seattle, batting .247 with 24 homers and 92 RBIs.
The move, combined with Romero being sent to the minors, likely means Korean slugger Dae-Ho Lee will make the major league roster as Seattle's backup first baseman to Adam Lind.
''It's leaning that way,'' Servais said.
Montero hit .237 in 38 at-bats in spring training games.
Royals: Kansas City played its last split-squad game of spring training. Medlen won't pitch again in Arizona before the regular season.
''The pitches will be there when it counts and physically, getting up over 90 pitches, my body felt great,'' he said. ''And yeah, anytime you finish a spring training game and you feel good, it's a pretty big comfort.''
Mariners: Karns is scheduled to make his last spring start on Saturday against Colorado. He is on track to make his first regular-season start in the team's first series at home against Oakland.
Karns beat out left-hander James Paxton for the last rotation spot. Paxton made 13 major league starts last season, but was optioned to Tacoma earlier on Monday.
''We all know James Paxton is going to be a big part of our team at some point this season,'' Servais said. ''We're going to need him, so let's get him in a good spot mentally.''
Karns, new to Seattle after being acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason, had kind words for Paxton.
''It's just a number's game. He's a great talent. I know he'll be back up here before we know it,'' Karns said. ''I just wish him the best. It's nice to have that kind of environment here where even though we were challenging and put in a position of competing against each other, we were still supporting one another. That was huge for me, coming in to a new clubhouse.''
Royals: Yordano Ventura gets his second-to-last tuneup before the regular season with a start Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants.
Mariners: Taijuan Walker is scheduled for his sixth start of the spring Tuesday against Cleveland and Josh Tomlin.