by Jose Romero, AP
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Felix Hernandez pitched two-hit ball for six innings in his longest outing of the spring Thursday as a split squad of Seattle Mariners lost to the Kansas City Royals 3-0.
Hernandez, the ace who led the AL with a 2.14 ERA last season, gave up one run. He struck out four and walked none.
“Changeup was nice, slider was good, fastball was unbelievable,” Hernandez said. “Got a lot of ground balls. It was good.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon thought so, too.
“Very good outing, one that I was anxious to see. It was very important to get him built up, get him up and down five or six times. He got the pitch count up where he needed to be,” McClendon said.
Hernandez retired the side in order in four of his six innings. A leadoff double by Christian Colon followed by a wild pitch and Jarrod Dyson’s sacrifice fly in the third produced the Royals’ run against Hernandez.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie shut out the Mariners on two hits for 5 2-3 innings. Closer Greg Holland relived and finished the sixth with a strikeout.
“It was good. Able to throw all my pitches for strikes and felt healthy and strong,” Guthrie said. “Kept it down for the most part.”
Ryan Jackson hit a two-run single with two outs in the eighth off reliever Danny Farquhar, who is in contention for a Seattle bullpen job.
Royals relievers Jason Frasor, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson each pitched a scoreless inning.
Madson hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011 because of complications from previous injuries.
“We’re really pleased with what he’s done so far. That’s been a really good find for us,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The competition remains open for what might be six of seven bullpen spots on the Mariners’ opening-day roster, with right-handed closer Fernando Rodney the only sure thing. Two of the spots could be for left-handers with four more for right-handers. Charlie Furbush figures to be one lefty – he threw a scoreless inning Thursday. Veteran Joe Saunders and rookies Tyler Olson and David Rollins are competing to be the second lefty.
Olson continued to make his case Thursday, retiring the only batter he faced. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight spring appearances (9 2-/3 innings).
RHP Jandel Gustave was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. Gustave, a former Rule 5 draft pick, was waived by the Royals earlier this week.
Royals: Guthrie is already slotted as the fifth starter in the rotation. He’ll get one more spring training outing in Arizona and will throw at some point when the Royals play in Houston before the regular season starts.
“It was his day,” Yost said. “He was just sharp. He was executing all his pitches. His changeup was just phenomenal. He was consistently down in the zone … Hernandez looked really, really good and Guthrie just matched him.”
Mariners: Hernandez is in line for one more start before he takes the ball on opening day. He finished his afternoon with some additional pitches in the bullpen.
“I feel I’m where I want to be,” Hernandez said. He’s looking forward to an opener in Seattle in front of the King’s Court, his legion of devoted fans that occupy sections at Safeco Field.
“Going to be fun. It’s been a while,” he said. “You’ve got to be pumped. But I’ll be calm.”
Royals: OF Alex Rios is day-to-day with a bruised thumb.
Royals: Opening day starter Yordano Ventura has a 10.29 spring ERA, but he allowed only a run on four hits in five innings on March 21. He starts Friday against Seattle.
Mariners: James Paxton continues to work his way back to regular-season form after an injury delayed his start to spring training. He’ll start vs. the Royals on Friday.
by Chuck King, AP
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright gave up four runs, including a solo homer by Giancarlo Stanton, in 3 2-3 innings Thursday before a rain delay ended his outing in a 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Wainwright gave up six hits in his second spring start and struggled with his fastball.
After rain held up play for 55 minutes, Wainwright went to the indoor batting cages for more work. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist noticed a flaw in Wainwright’s mechanics.
“It’s the best I felt all spring,” said Wainwright, whose spring progression was slowed by an early abdominal strain. “I know it’s not against hitters, but it translates for me.”
Wainwright threw 65 pitches on the field and an estimated 25 more in the cage.
“I went from being kind of frustrated with the way I pitched and then I left that cage thinking I’m ready for next time,” Wainwright said.
Jason Heyward hit his first home run with St. Louis.
Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez allowed two runs and four hits in three innings.
Wainwright walked one batter and hit another as part of a two-run third inning. Christian Yelich singled home Alvarez in the fourth on the last pitch Wainwright threw.
Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny has yet to officially announce Wainwright as the opening day starter, but everything is falling into place for that to happen.
“I think the first day we were talking about how to make it work so that Adam could throw then, but if we have any kind of hiccup we’ve got other guys that, because of some of the extra rest with the off days, we’d be covered,” Matheny said.
Marlins: Miami scratched Jarred Cosart from Friday’s scheduled start because of a blister on his middle finger. Instead, the Marlins will give the ball to Brad Hand, who will likely begin the season in Miami’s bullpen.
“It’s nice to have that strength and depth guys that can not only pitch out of the bullpen but also be starters for us,” manager Mike Redmond said.
Cardinals: Matt Carpenter, removed from Wednesday’s game after being hit in the quadriceps by a pitch from Max Scherzer, returned to the lineup and went 1 for 2.
No member of the Marlins starting lineup returned following the rain delay. St. Louis kept three players: Randal Grichuk, Dean Anna and Pete Kozma.
Matheny said he wasn’t worried that Heyward didn’t have an extra-base hit prior to his first-inning homer, saying he’d seen enough line drives and balls hit barely foul to believe those hits are coming.
“Hopefully he’s not going to start trying to do too much because of all the talk, but I’m not concerned about it at all,” Matheny said.
KOZ AND EFFECT
Light-hitting Cardinals utility infielder Pete Kozma led all National League batters this spring going into the game, then went 1 for 2 to raise his average to .455.
Cardinals: Split-squad games on Friday. John Lackey will face Matt Harvey and the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium while the Carlos Martinez-led squad will head to Viera to face Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals.
Miami expects to face Dallas Keuchel when it travels to play Houston.
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Max Scherzer looked amply ready to start on opening day for Washington, striking out nine in six shutout innings during the Nationals’ 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Nationals manager Matt Williams recently announced that the newly acquired Scherzer would make his first career start in an opener. Washington begins at home against the New York Mets on April 6.
Making his fifth start of the spring, the former AL Cy Young Award winner allowed only three hits. He didn’t walk anyone and threw 59 of 82 pitches for strikes.
“That was a result of me executing pitches today,” Scherzer said. “I felt like I did a good job of generating swings and misses with all my pitches, but more importantly I didn’t walk anybody. I was pounding the zone.”
“I think I only fell behind two hitters, too, so that’s a more telling number than anything,” he said.
Scherzer also hit Matt Carpenter with a pitch. The Cardinals said he had a bruise on his right quadriceps.
“He wasn’t happy about it, but it was one of those things that it hit him kind of square on the quad and that can potentially lead to something else, so why mess with it?” manager Mike Matheny said.
Matheny also removed Kolten Wong as a precaution after the second baseman was hit by a pitch leading off the eighth.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha also enjoyed a strong outing, giving up four hits in 5 2-3 innings and striking out four.
Wacha retired 13 of 14 batters at one stretch, a string only interrupted by his first walk this spring.
Ty Kelly hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen on Tuesday and is ready to appear in a Grapefruit League game, manager Matt Williams said. Strasburg rolled an ankle in the weight room, causing him to miss what would have been his third scheduled spring start.
“We’ll just slate him in later on at the end of the week,” Williams said.
Cardinals: Matheny said John Lackey will start in Friday’s split-squad game at Roger Dean Stadium against the Mets, while Carlos Martinez will head to Viera to face the Nationals.
Nationals: Jayson Werth played only in the field in a minor league game on Wednesday. Afterward, he was scheduled to get more aggressive with his batting practice. Werth underwent offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to appear in an exhibition game.
“I’m encouraged by him,” Williams said. “There’s no issue with throwing, so that’s a good sign.”
Closer Drew Storen appeared in a minor league game on Wednesday. He underwent surgery to repair a broken non-throwing hand earlier this spring. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Cardinals: Tommy Pham, whose candidacy for the final outfield spot is running out of time, did some running before the game but still isn’t ready to play because of a quad injury.
“I don’t think he’s that far away,” Matheny said.
The Cardinals’ lineup looked much the same as it is expected to look once the season begins, which means Jon Jay hitting seventh and Wong batting eighth. To Matheny, that’s a formidable look.
“That’s not a whole lot of time for the opposing team to breathe,” Matheny said. “Either one of those guys could really hurt you at any time.”
Nationals: Gio Gonzalez makes his fourth spring start, facing the Nationals.
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright will make his second spring start when St. Louis is at home against Henderson Alvarez and Miami.
by Barry Wilner, AP Pro Football writer
PHOENIX (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings don’t plan to trade Adrian Peterson and fully expect him to be with the team for the 2015 season.
His agent and Peterson believe otherwise.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was emphatic about keeping Peterson at the NFL owners’ meetings Wednesday.
“We’re good to go. I mean, he’s under contract and we expect him to honor it,” Zimmer said. “I think when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he’s going to want to go in with the jersey that everyone remembers him as. That will be as a Viking.”
Not so fast, agent Ben Dogra told The Associated Press.
“Adrian and I feel it is in his best interest, and it would be his desire, to play elsewhere in the NFL,” Dogra said. “This is not personal in any way, it is business.”
Peterson’s contract has three years remaining, with a $12.75 million salary for 2015. None of the remaining money on the deal is guaranteed.
Peterson, 30, has not yet been reinstated by the NFL from his suspension under the personal conduct policy. The star running back and 2012 league MVP has balked at returning to the team, questioning the Minnesota organization’s support of him after he was suspended for disciplining his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. The case was resolved in court with a plea bargain.
“I think we are pretty firm,” Zimmer said. “I think we handled everything the way we are allowed to handle it.
“At times we were not able to speak with him, which really is kind of ridiculous because of the (league) rules.”
Peterson currently is on the commissioner’s exempt list while the NFL appeals a federal judge’s decision to nullify an arbitration ruling that upheld his suspension.
Dogra said the standstill comes down to how the Vikings view his client.
“I would like to have their position in writing, and they have not done so,” Dogra said. “Is Adrian the face of their franchise or is he in their mind a 30-year-old running back? I want them to tell (us) that.”
Asked if he thought Peterson and Dogra were trying to force the Vikings’ hand, resulting in a trade, Zimmer didn’t hesitate in responding.
“I’m not going to speculate on what he wants and doesn’t want, but Adrian’s under contract for three more years for us,” Zimmer said. “And that’s why you sign these contracts, why you get these big bonuses.”
Dogra noted that there are no ulterior motives on his and Peterson’s part.
“I will work in the best interest of my client,” he said, adding that he and his partners at Relativity Sports, Eugene Parker and Doug Hendrickson, have nothing against the Vikings or Zimmer. “We had Shaun Hill sign with the Vikings to be Teddy Bridgewater’s backup (quarterback), and we signed Terence Newman there as a free agent so he could return to play with Mike Zimmer.”
In Zimmer’s first year as coach, Minnesota had Peterson for just the season opener, when he rushed for 75 yards in a 34-6 win at St. Louis. Then he was suspended by the league and eventually wound up on the commissioner’s exempt list while his legal case proceeded.
Zimmer praised his players’ resourcefulness without Minnesota’s best player.
“During the time it all happened,” he said, “the big thing was to try to put our heads down and move forward and keep grinding. To overcome a situation like that during the course of the year, maintaining focus, there’s some resiliency.”
He added the obvious, saying Peterson’s presence in the lineup would only make Minnesota’s offense better. But …
“I try to coach the guys we have,” he said, “and figure out how to win with the guys we have.”
PHOENIX (AP) — Dallas coach Jason Garrett says Greg Hardy must “do the right things from the beginning” to be part of the Cowboys.
Garrett said the team did an extensive examination of Hardy’s background before signing him.
“Like with any other player, you have to do your research about him and talk to people,” Garrett told reporters during the NFC coaches’ availability at the NFL owners meeting on Wednesday. “We had extensive talks with people going all the way back to high school.”
The talented but troubled defensive end was convicted in North Carolina last July of assaulting a female and communicating harassment, but the case was dismissed after Hardy reached a settlement with the victim.
“Obviously he’s one of the real good players at his position in the league,” Garrett said. “But our job is to make sure he comes in and does the right things from the beginning.”
Garrett said the Cowboys weren’t alone in trying to sign Hardy.
“There were some other people interested in him. There was competition,” he said. ” … We investigated him as a player, researched him as a person and decided this would be a good move for our football team.”
Hardy signed a one-year, $13 million free agent contract with the Cowboys, with only $1 million guaranteed. The rest of the money is tied to incentives.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said at his news conference Wednesday that the league continues to review Hardy’s case to determine if discipline is warranted.
Garrett said the Cowboys are well aware Hardy could face a suspension.
“We’ve got our arms around what the punishment might be,” Garrett said. “We’ve looked at the precedents for the last few years to get an idea and we talked to the league about it.”
by Alan Eskew, AP
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — 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. Vargas 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 Alex Rios, C Salvador Perez, 3B Mike Moustakas and 2B Omar Infante.
ROYALS SET ROTATION
Yost will go with youth at the front of his rotation, with 23-year-old RHP Yordano Ventura and 26-year-old LHP Danny Duffy starting the first two regular-season games. RHP Edinson Volquez, 31, Vargas, 32, and RHP Jeremy Guthrie, 35, round out the rotation.
WHITE SOX TRIM THREE
OF Courtney Hawkins, a 2012 first-round draft pick who hit .412 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 18 games, and INF Juan Diaz were assigned to minor league camp. C Rob Brantly was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.
White Sox DH Adam LaRoche was scratched due to illness.
White Sox: RHP Brad Penny will start Thursday against the Dodgers.
Royals: Guthrie starts Thursday against a Mariners split squad.
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Yordano Ventura has been picked to pitch on opening day for the AL champion Kansas City Royals against the Chicago White Sox.
The 23-year-old right-hander went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA as a rookie last season and tossed seven scoreless innings to beat San Francisco in Game 6 of the World Series.
The announcement was made by Royals manager Ned Yost on Wednesday.
James Shields, the team’s No. 1 starter last year, signed with San Diego in the offseason.
Yost says left-hander Danny Duffy and right-hander Edinson Volquez will follow the hard-throwing Ventura in the rotation during the season-opening series against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
Duffy was 9-12 with a 2.53 ERA last season. Kansas City signed Volquez to a two-year contract in December after he went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA last season for Pittsburgh.
Yost says lefty Jason Vargas and right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will round out the rotation in that order.
(West Plains) – Several area high school senior boys and girls basketball players will take the court one more time Saturday afternoon, April 4, in the 10th annual Grizzly All-Star Classic hosted by the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball program.
The girls game will get underway at 3 p.m., and the boys game will follow at 5. Both games will be played in the West Plains Civic Center arena. Three-point and slam dunk contests will take place between the games.
Players from schools in Alton, Bakersfield, Bunker, Cabool, Couch, Dora, Eminence, Gainesville, Hartville, Houston, Koshkonong, Licking, Mansfield, Mtn. View-Birch Tree Liberty, Mountain Grove, Norwood, Plato, Rolla, Salem, Summersville, Thayer, West Plains, Willow Springs and Winona, as well as Mtn. Home, Arkansas, will be featured in the games, Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said.
Coaches for the girls teams will be Kristi Chester of Thayer and Jack Harris of Gainesville. Coaching the boys teams will be Steve Voyles of Winona and Brett Reed of Hartville.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children age 11 and under. In addition, DVDs of the games will be produced and available for pre-purchase for $20 each.
For more information about the games, call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7991.
by Harlin Hutchison
(West Plains) – Several West Plains Zizzers received All-Ozark Conference basketball honors for the 2014-15 season.
For the third consecutive year, the Lady Zizzers were champions of the Ozark Conference. Scott Womack was honored as the coach of the year. Senior Cassidy Johnson was named to the all-league first team along with sophomores Ellie Williams and Peyton Richards.
Senior Kelli Bowen was named to the honorable mention team.
Cassidy was also named as the Player of the Year.
On the boys side, two Zizzer seniors, Zach Flippin and Justin Davis, were named first team.
by Anne Peterson, AP Sports
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The music was turned up in the locker room and the mood was festive, but Golden State didn’t overdo the celebration of the team’s first division title in 39 years.
These Warriors aren’t done yet.
“We might be a little subdued, but I think everybody is proud of what we’ve done. We still have 11 games left to keep getting better so I think everybody is focused on that,” Stephen Curry said. “But I think everybody is pretty happy right now.”
Curry had 33 points and 10 assists and the Warriors pulled away from the short-handed Trail Blazers in the second half for a 122-108 victory on Tuesday night. Andre Iguodala came off the bench to score 21 points for the Warriors, who won their seventh straight to push their record to an NBA-best 58-13.
Golden State hasn’t won the Pacific Division crown since the 1975-76 season, the year after the team won the NBA championship.
After the game, many players sported T-shirts that read “Pacific Claimed.”
With a comfortable lead on second-place Memphis in the Western Conference, the Warriors have dropped just one of their last 12 games. Playing the second of a back-to-back, the team shot a season-high 60.2 percent for the game.
“Golden State is a terrific team,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “They’re solid on both ends of the court and they showed that. They were very good all night. They passed the ball well — they had 30 assists after three quarters and 37 for the game. They kind of put on a clinic as far as how to share the ball.”
Damian Lillard had 29 points for the Blazers, who have lost five straight following a 1-4 road trip. Despite the slump, Portland has remained atop the Northwest Division, five games in front of Oklahoma City.
The Blazers were without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge because of a left index finger sprain, as well as fellow starting forward Nicolas Batum, who has lower back pain. Backup center Chris Kaman was out because of a right shoulder strain.
Portland was already missing guard Wesley Matthews, who was lost for the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon on March 5 against Dallas. The Blazers have gone 3-5 without him.
Because of the absences, Portland started a lineup that included regulars Lillard and Robin Lopez, along with Matthews’ replacement Arron Afflalo and reserves Alonzo Gee and Dorell Wright.
Golden State limited guard Klay Thompson to 25 minutes because of a sore ankle that kept him out of three games during the team’s homestand. Thompson, who finished with 16 points, returned on Monday night for the Warrior’s 107-76 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Draymond Green added 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Andrew Bogut had 10 points and 16 rebounds.
“We’re very comfortable with how we’re going to get shots every single night,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Then it’s just about executing and not turning the ball over, staying aggressive and making the smart plays.”
The Blazers jumped ahead 24-18 early on Lillard’s off-balance jumper, and extended the lead to 47-39 on CJ McCollum’s 3-pointer.
Lillard’s 3 made it 53-41 but Curry answered with consecutive 3-pointers to keep the Blazers from pulling away. Leandro Barbosa’s 3-pointer pulled the Warriors within 66-55, but Portland still held a 62-57 advantage at the half.
The Warriors went on a 10-0 run to pull in front 69-66. Lillard hit a 3 to tie it, but Golden State scored nine straight to go up 80-69.
Golden State pushed the lead to as many 17 points. Allen Crabbe’s 3-pointer got the Blazers within 100-91 with 8:02 to go, but they couldn’t catch up.
Warriors: Golden State beat the Blazers 95-80 earlier this season at the Moda Center. … Two of Stephen Curry’s eight 40-point games came in Portland.
Trail Blazers: Portland had no turnovers in the first quarter and just two in the first half, but they finished with 10. … McCollum finished with a career-high 23 points. … It was the first time since 2012 that an opposing team had shot more than 60 percent from the field at the Moda Center.
“It was understated,” Kerr admitted about the celebration. “But we got the guys T-shirts, and the guys were excited. I think they took a team photo and they’ve probably all put it on Instagram already.”
The Warriors, by the way, posted a photo of the team in the locker room with their “Pacific Claimed” shirts — which were already on sale on the team store’s website for $35.
Warriors visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
Trail Blazers visit the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.