SURPRISE, Ariz. — Carlos Rodon struck out nine in four dazzling innings Wednesday night, making his latest impressive bid to join the White Sox rotation, and Chicago cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Rodon, the third player selected in last year’s draft, walked none and allowed four singles, throwing 47 strikes in 67 pitches. Rodon has fanned 19 batters this spring, tying for the Cactus League lead, in 12 1/3 innings.
"I’m glad no walks," he said. "That’s the best part of the day."
The left-hander faced a lineup that included eight regular starters for the AL champion Royals, no doubt making it difficult for Chicago to send him back to the minors.
"I hope so," Rodon said. "I feel like I’m close. That’s a decision that I can’t make. That’s up to other people. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing, taking it day by day and getting better. It’s been different because you’re used to watching these guys on TV and then you get used to them stepping in the box finally and it’s just another game."
Avisail Garcia, J.B. Shuck and Keon Barnum homered for the White Sox.
Royals lefty Jason Vargas held Chicago to one run and three hits over six innings. He yielded nine runs and nine hits — including three homers — over 1 1/3 innings in his previous start.
"I kind of ran into a buzz saw that last outing," Vargas said. "This start was a whole new start. I take every start as serious as I would any other start. I’m definitely never trying to go out there and just go through the motions and hope things show up when the lights go on. It was an all right day."
Royals OF Alex Rios arrived at Surprise Stadium about 12 hours before the first pitch. Rios drove 25 minutes to the field in the morning, forgetting it was a night game.
White Sox: Rodon threw to Brett Austin, his catcher at North Carolina State and Chicago’s fourth-round draft pick last year. "It was fun to throw to Brett again," Rodon said. "Brett and I have been roommates for two years. Brett and I have been real good friends. Before college, we played together. It was just like old times, like riding a bike throwing to him."
Royals: Vargas struck out four in the first two innings and needed just 12 pitches to get through his final two innings. "I got some balls put in play early," he said. "I was able to get ahead and able to put some guys away."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura announced that RHP Jeff Samardzija will start on opening day.
"I wasn’t going to pull out a name you hadn’t heard before," Ventura said. "Now that would have been news."
Samardzija started the past two season openers for the crosstown Cubs. LHPs Jose Quintana and John Danks will start the following two games in Kansas City.
All-Star LHP Chris Sale probably would have started the April 6 opener, but a broken right foot last month set him back. Sale threw a brief bullpen Wednesday.
ROYALS BATTING ORDER
Kansas City manager Ned Yost announced his lineup for the season opener. SS Alcides Escobar, who drew only 23 walks in 620 plate appearances last year, will bat leadoff. LF Alex Gordon, who led the club with 19 home runs in 2014, will hit second. The remainder of the batting order will be: CF Lorenzo Cain, 1B Eric Hosmer, DH Kendrys Morales, RF Rios, C Salvador Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas and 2B Omar Infante.
ROYALS SET ROTATION
White Sox: RHP Brad Penny will start Thursday against the Dodgers.
Royals: Guthrie starts Thursday against a Mariners split squad.