(AP) — When John Lannan takes the mound at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night, he may breathe a sigh of relief knowing that his opponent will not be the Philadelphia Phillies.
After spending his first six major league seasons getting roughed up by Philadelphia while pitching for the NL East rival Washington Nationals, Lannan makes his Phillies debut against the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Lannan went 42-52 with a 4.01 ERA in 134 starts for Washington, but he was 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA in six appearances in 2012 while spending most of his time at Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals failed to tender him a contract, and the Phillies signed the left-hander to a one-year, $2.5 million deal Dec. 19.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lannan said. “I feel like the Phillies have a great shot of winning the NL East and going to the World Series.”
Lannan is surely happy about not having to face Philadelphia anymore. He went 3-13 with a 5.53 ERA in 19 matchups, posting a 2-5 record and 6.49 ERA in eight outings at Citizens Bank Park, where he made his big league debut July 26, 2007.
“I think it’s more me not executing,” Lannan said. “That’s what it comes down to, and it’s against really good Philly lineups. So I think it comes down to me executing pitches. It doesn’t really matter where you’re pitching. This park is smaller. You’ve just got to execute your pitches.”
Lannan has never pitched against Kansas City, but outfielder Jeff Francoeur is 13 for 25 with a homer and four doubles when facing him.
Lannan will be looking to help the Phillies (1-3) get on track after they blew a 4-0 lead and lost 13-4 to the Royals (2-2) in Friday’s series opener.
“It’s a tough one,” first baseman Ryan Howard said. “You don’t want to lose your (home) opener like this.”
Alex Gordon and Chris Getz each hit bases-loaded triples, and Eric Hosmer finished 4 for 5 with three RBIs as Kansas City pounded out 19 hits – two more than it totaled in dropping two of three to the White Sox earlier this week.
“We knew we didn’t swing the bats great in Chicago,” Gordon said. “We just kind of moved on. We never lost confidence in our offense. We came in here confident.”
Luis Mendoza (8-10, 4.23) will get the ball for Kansas City after setting career highs in victories, appearances (30) and starts (25) last season.
Mendoza then was named the MVP of the Caribbean League playoffs after throwing 13 1-3 scoreless innings for Mexico.
“I did it with that reason, to come to spring ready to compete, and every start I was on the mound to show them that I could get people out and that I can be consistent in what I’m doing,” Mendoza told the Royals’ official website.
“I’m pitching with great confidence, and that’s the main thing. I think I can take that to the big league level and get people out.”
Mendoza tossed one scoreless inning of relief in his only appearance against Philadelphia on June 28, 2008, while with Texas. Phillies center fielder Ben Revere is 4 for 13 with a triple against the right-hander.