Young baseball fans scream to get autographs from Kansas City Royals players before the team's spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong
March 30, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Cole Hamels pitched five solid innings in his final spring start, and the Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on Wednesday.

Hamels, who is slated to start on opening day Monday against Seattle, allowed one run and two hits. The left-hander struck out five and walked none.

''What I was trying to accomplish in spring, I feel pretty good and confident what I was able to do especially today,'' Hamels said. ''It was getting that four-seam fastball in the bottom half of the zone and get the groundouts. I wanted to establish early contact. It's nice to at least have some quick innings.''

Royals starter Ian Kennedy was led off the field by trainer Nick Kenney while making warmup tosses in the fourth inning. The preliminary diagnosis was left hamstring tightness.

Kennedy, who signed a $70 million, five-year contract in January, was on the disabled list last April with the San Diego Padres with a left hamstring injury.

''It's slight. We were just being more precaution than anything right now,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''He felt some tightness and a little bit of cramping in his leg. We said let's get him out and see where we are the next day or two, but we don't think it's very serious. He caught a spike the inning before and felt it a little bit.''

Delino DeShields tripled twice and scored two runs for Texas.

''If it's in the gap or down the line, just automatically I'm thinking triples,'' he said. I'm just an aggressive runner. I don't want to pull up at second base. I want to be on third base.''

STARTING TIME

Royals: Kennedy allowed two runs and three hits. He struck out four and walked none.

The right-hander, who struck out the side in the third, is penciled in to start the second game of the season on Tuesday against the Mets, but that could be in jeopardy with the tight hamstring.

''We're going to wait and see how it feels tomorrow and the next day,'' Yost said. ''But as of right now (he'll start). We're going to see where he's at. We've got 48 hours to make a decision if we want to adjust (Yordano) Ventura's load or Chris Young's.''

Ventura is scheduled to start the final exhibition game Saturday and pitch the third game of the season, April 8 against the Twins.

Kennedy said it is not as bad as the hamstring injury that put him on the disabled list last year.

''Last time, I would feel it when I walked,'' Kennedy said. ''This time, I don't. It's not even close to how I did it before. But it's not right to push it in my last spring training game.''

Rangers: Hamels, who lowered his ERA from 10.38 to 5.79, threw 73 pitches in three innings in his previous start against the Padres. He was much more efficient against the Royals, throwing 61 pitches.

''When you get into the season, you need to have confidence you can throw certain pitches at certain times, how to get guys out and everything kinda changes when the season (begins),'' Hamels said. ''When the game is really on the line, you have a little bit more adrenaline, things just kind of completely flip. You just have to stay under control, just be confident in what you have and what you're going to go out there with.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: OF Jarrod Dyson (strained oblique) will travel with the club to Kansas City to complete his rehab. He is hitting in the cages and remains optimistic he could be activated in mid-April.

Rangers: OF Josh Hamilton (left knee soreness) has had no setbacks, but the club adjusted his timetable to return from May 1 to closer to mid-May. Hamilton will go back to Texas for the opening series before returning to Arizona to rev up his baseball activities.

UP NEXT

Royals: After an off day Thursday, the Royals will use RHP Chien-Ming Wang on Friday against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis will start Friday against the Indians in Arlington. The Rangers are off Thursday.

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