SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Matt Garza was bruised, though certainly not battered.
Garza gave up one single in two scoreless innings Friday, then pulled from the Chicago Cubs’ 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals after he was hit by a liner off the bat of Jeff Francoeur.
The ball ricocheted off Garza to shortstop Starlin Castro, who threw out Francoeur at first base. Cubs manager Mike Quade and the trainer rushed to the mound, but Garza shook off the pain and finished the inning by retiring two more hitters.
“Everything’s fine,” said Garza, who had a baseball-size welt on his back. “It’s just one of those things. I would rather take it now than later. At least I know my body can take it.
“I felt it originally, then looked around for the ball trying to finish the play. After I saw Castro got it, I took a good deep breath and that’s when I felt it. It hit me on the lower lat, on the meaty part, so that’s a good thing. After I took a deep breath, it didn’t hurt.”
Max Ramirez came in to hit for Garza, who threw 20 strikes in 26 pitches.
“Better safe than sorry,” Garza said. “It’s that time of year where it’s not that important. Of course, I wanted to go back out there being a competitor, but team first is the way it should be. I finished up in the bullpen and got my 50-60 pitches in. I felt good.”
Garza joked about the timing of his removal.
“I’m a little upset,” he said. “The reason I finished that inning was so I could hit. I spend everyday in the cage and take a lot of batting practice. But my job isn’t to hit .300. My job is get outs.”
The Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead with Tyler Colvin going 3 for 3, including a home run in the first off Bruce Chen and an RBI double in the fifth off Patrick Keating.
Royals rookie Eric Hosmer tied it in the sixth with a grand slam off left-hander John Gaub, who walked Alcides Escobar, Mitch Maier and Mike Moustakas to load the bases.
“Hosmer had a phenomenal at-bat,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was fouling off pitches until he could get something he could drive and he didn’t miss it. He waited back on a 3-2 breaking ball and just smoked it.”
Maier singled home Joaquin Arias, who led off the seventh with a single, for the go-ahead run. Maier is 8 for 8 with two walks in his past 10 plate-appearances to raise his average to .667 during spring training.
“Mitch is hot right now,” Yost said. “You can’t get him out right now.”
NOTES: Colvin, normally an OF, played 1B for the first time since he was a sophomore at Clemson. … Garza forget to pack his uniform and instead of his No. 17 wore No. 94. … The Royals have won five of six, while the Cubs have dropped five of their first six games. … Royals DH Alex Gordon went 0 for 3 and struck out twice, and is hitless in nine at-bats. He has drawn five walks and been hit by a pitch.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.