A’s bullpen cools hot-hitting Royals
PHOENIX (AP) — Tommy Milone had a successful rookie season, and then started off spring training with five scoreless innings in two starts. Still, he’s treating camp as if he needs to earn a spot in the Athletics’ rotation.
Milone allowed six hits and three runs in 3 2-3 innings, but the bullpen shut down the hot-hitting Kansas City Royals on Tuesday for a 6-3 victory.
“I was trying to get ready for the season (last year), regardless of my spot, and I’m doing the same thing this year,” he said.
Milone’s spot on the A’s staff is secure after going 13-10 in a team-leading 31 starts as a rookie last year.
Milone’s scoreless streak ended when the Royals’ Alex Gordon homered to lead off the game.
Gordon had two hits to raise his average to .536 for spring training. The homer was his third.
“It was all right. I didn’t think it was that bad, but it could have gone better. You have to be ready for situations like that,” Milone said. “The Royals are a good-hitting team, every aggressive. I throw a lot of strikes and they know that.”
Oakland, however, rallied against James Shields, who had a scoreless streak of his own snapped. Shields hadn’t allowed a run in his first two starts with the Royals — four innings — but he was touched up for six hits and four runs in 4 2-3 innings. He did strike out six without walking a batter.
Eric Sogard had a tiebreaking double in the fifth inning off Shields.
“The first few innings were really good. I was putting the ball where I wanted,” Shields said. “Then I started to get tired at the end and left the ball up. You can’t do that during the regular season.”
But he feels he is developing a nice working rhythm with catcher Salvador Perez.
“It’s good to have him back there,” Shields said. “He is getting a better idea of what I want to throw in certain situations.”
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had an RBI and a double in his return to the A’s after briefly leaving spring training to be reunited with his family for the first time in about a year.
The Cuban defector surprised family members in Miami after they arrived over the weekend from the Turks and Caicos, where they had been detained as illegal immigrants. The relatives, including Cespedes’ mother, Estela Milanes, were released Jan. 21.
Cespedes was back in the A’s lineup Tuesday against the Royals, playing left field and batting cleanup.
“I am happy,” Cespedes said at his locker through an interpreter before the game.
NOTES: The A’s will have an off day on Wednesday. … Manager Bob Melvin said LHP Brett Anderson (sore trapezius/neck) has improved and that he should be able to make his next start later this week. … After a strong season with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Va., and 24 appearances for the A’s in 2012, RHP Pat Neshek is quickly establishing himself as a bullpen candidate. He got credit for the win on Tuesday and has not allowed a run in his first five appearances. … The Royals optioned three LHPs to their minor league camp — Chris Dwyer, Justin Marks and John Lamb.