Owings homers, Diamondbacks beat Royals
PHOENIX (AP) Chris Owings, in his first full game playing center field in professional baseball, hit a three-run homer to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks over the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Owings has been an infielder throughout his career but was pressed into service in center field with A.J. Pollock out for the long term after breaking his right elbow in Friday's game.
Owings could start in center on opening day Monday if manager Chip Hale prefers the matchup against Colorado Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.
''If we feel like Chris can do it, he'll probably be the guy out there,'' Hale said.
Hale could also go with 23-year-old Socrates Brito in center. Brito, who played in 18 games in the majors last season and was the organization's minor league player of the year in 2015, figures to get more of the playing time in the outfield over the course of 2016.
''He's ready for this. We know that he can handle playing every day,'' Hale said of Brito. ''He'll be in every game, let's put it that way. Whether it's starting or coming in for defense or pinch hitting late in a game.''
Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray pitched 4 1-3 innings in his last start before the regular season. The Royals fielded a lineup of mostly minor leaguers.
Ray allowed a run on three hits, struck out six and walked three. Royals starter Yordano Ventura was on a pitch count and threw only two innings before leaving the game.
Ventura gave up a run on four hits with four strikeouts.
Brandon Drury had three hits and drove in a run for Arizona. The Royals' Christian Colon had two hits.
John Lannan shut out the Diamondbacks on five hits over four innings in relief, striking out three. Brad Ziegler, Evan Marshall and Andrew Chafin each pitched a scoreless inning out of Arizona's bullpen.
It was the spring training finale for both teams. The Royals open defense of their World Series championship Sunday night in Kansas City and the Diamondbacks start the regular season on Monday night.
YOST SETS STARTER SCHEDULE
Royals manager Ned Yost said that after Edinson Volquez starts on opening night on Sunday, Chris Young will pitch Tuesday's game against the New York Mets. Then after two straight days off, Ventura will face the Minnesota Twins Friday followed by Ian Kennedy next Saturday. Yost said the opening day roster will be announced Sunday morning.
Royals: Ventura is the Royals No. 3 starter to open the season. His fifth and final spring training start went much better than his fourth, when he gave up 10 runs in four innings.
Diamondbacks: Ray, who'll be the fifth starter in the Arizona rotation, threw more offspeed pitches than he's used to, by design. ''Felt good. Pitches were working for me well,'' he said. ''I just had that one kind of long inning (the second), got the pitch count up. But I was able to get out of it and limit the damage.''
Royals: Kennedy was moved back to the No. 4 starter spot because of a slight hamstring strain from his last start. ''This is very mild to the point where you don't even feel it anymore right now, but still, just being safe,'' Yost said.
Diamondbacks: OF A.J. Pollock addressed media members before Saturday's game, his arm in a sling.
''A lot of frustration. It almost felt like a nightmare, like it really wasn't happening,'' Pollock said.
''Now it's just kind of get prepared for what's next,'' he said.
What's next is surgery in the coming days, and Pollock could be out for the season, though he said his goal is to return to action before it ends.
Diamondbacks: Arizona placed Pollock and reliever Josh Collmenter on the 15-day disabled list and also announced that local product Jake Barrett had made the opening day roster as a reliever. Barrett, from nearby Mesa and Arizona State University, compiled a 0.79 earned run average in 11 spring-training games.
Reliever Silvino Bracho, Drury and Brito also made the team despite lacking much big league experience, and veteran Rickie Weeks Jr., had his contract purchased.
Relievers Enrique Burgos and Evan Marshall were optioned to Triple-A Reno, as was outfielder Peter O'Brien. Outfielder Jason Bourgeois was re-assigned to minor league camp.
Royals: Those Royals who will be on the big league roster were scheduled to fly back to Kansas City right after Saturday's game, and Kansas City will open the season Sunday night against the team they faced in last year's World Series, the Mets.
''It's fun, but it's going to be a zoo, too, with everything going on,'' Yost said.
Diamondbacks: After an off-day Sunday, the Diamondbacks are home for opening day on Monday. Zack Greinke, their biggest acquisition of the offseason, will start against the Rockies.