Royals 9, Indians 4
Aaron Laffey would love to follow in the footsteps of last year's No. 5 starter for the Cleveland Indians. The left-hander knows he'll need better results than he got Saturday in a 9-4 exhibition loss to the Kansas City Royals to win the job. Laffey allowed three runs and four hits, including a two-run double to John Buck, in one inning. David DeJesus homered and finished with four RBIs for Kansas City, which also got home runs from Mike Jacobs and Ryan Shealy. Willie Bloomquist went 3-for-3. Minor leaguer Beau Mills homered and Ben Francisco had two hits, two RBIs and two stolen bases for Cleveland. "Besides the ball to Buck, I hit my spots," Laffey said. "I left that one up and out and he extended his arms on it." A year ago, Laffey and Jeremy Sowers lost a spring battle for the No. 5 spot to Cliff Lee - who went on to a 22-3 record, 2.54 ERA and the AL Cy Young Award. This year, Laffey is in a five-way scramble of lefties with Sowers, Zach Jackson, Scott Lewis and David Huff, a first-round pick in 2006 who is the only member of the quartet without big league experience. Laffey split the 2008 season between Cleveland and Triple-A ball until missing the final two months with an inflamed elbow. "I feel better right now than I ever have," Laffey said. "I think it comes from my preparation all winter, especially the early morning stretching exercises. I don't have any soreness, any stiffness." Yet after three starts, Laffey has yielded 12 hits and seven earned runs in only five innings for a 12.60 ERA. "Today, I jammed a couple guys and they got base hits," Laffey said. "That happens. But it can't continue to happen. "I was supposed to go three innings, but made 39 pitches and they said that was enough. I'm scheduled to go four innings next time. I feel ready." Indians manager Eric Wedge said he saw some improvement in Laffey. "Everyone needs to know it isn't about results, it's about getting better and progressing," Wedge said. "I thought he was more aggressive with his sinker." DeJesus had an RBI single and scored on Buck's double to left-center against Laffey. He added a two-run homer off Jack Cassel in the second inning. "He had a nice day, obviously," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "I was very pleased with just about everything." Kansas City starter Kyle Davies gave up four hits and one earned run over 3 2-3 innings. "Kyle looked good and then flat-out lost his legs," Hillman said. "He got to 59, 60 pitches and I went out to talk to him and he said, 'Man, my legs are gone."' Horacio Ramirez worked four innings for Kansas City, giving up one run and three hits. Jackson yielded a run and two hits over three innings for Cleveland. Notes: Indians RHP Kerry Wood (sore back) pitched two innings in a simulated game. Wood, signed to a $20 million, two-year contract in December, is due to see his first Cactus League action Tuesday. ... Indians OF Grady Sizemore, out since Feb. 27 with a strained groin, hit against Wood and is due to play Sunday. ... Hillman said he is excited about the dynamic OF Coco Crisp can bring to the top of the Royals' lineup. "He takes pitches, gets on base, worries pitchers and does it with minimal strikeouts," Hillman said. Crisp went 2-for-2 with a walk, stole a base and scored twice.