Yost speaks about his starters' strong points

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals starter Ervin Santana had some rough spots on Saturday but he gave himself a passing grade in his fifth Cactus League start, and so did manager Ned Yost.

Two of the four runs he allowed Diamondbacks were unearned, thanks to a throwing error compounded by a ball lost in the sun. He gave up seven hits and one walk in his six innings, throwing 86 pitches (55 strikes).

"[It was] good. I was working everything down in the zone and I take it in a positive way," Santana said and added: "Location was very good. Every time when you have the ball down and locate it, it's going to be good results."

Santana now has a 4.74 ERA in five games with one start remaining. He'll pitch the season's second game on April 3 at Chicago.

"Santana threw the ball really well," Yost said. "He gave up the two scratch runs. Then an E-5 and a sun ball ended up costing him two more runs, but [he threw] 86 pitches in six innings. He threw the ball extremely well."

Hosmer sits out Saturday with discomfort in quad

KC@LAA: Hosmer drills a three-run homer to center

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Eric Hosmer is nursing what's described as a slightly strained right quad that kept the Royals' first baseman out of the lineup on Saturday.

Hosmer sustained the injury while stealing a base for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. However, he continued to play in the Classic and has been in the Royals' lineup for four of the five games since his return last Sunday, going 5-for-14.

"He slightly strained his quad in the WBC and he's about 85 percent," manager Ned Yost said.

"It's at 90 percent now," Hosmer said, correcting his manager. "Five minutes ago it went up five. But it's nothing serious at all."

Hosmer felt the injury when he swiped second base on March 12 against Puerto Rico.

"I wouldn't say I pulled it," Hosmer said. "It was more of a discomfort thing. It just felt like it was about to cramp up."

Hosmer showed no outward ill effects in Friday's 13-9 win over the Angels, banging two hits including a three-run homer. But, even after resting the previous two days, Hosmer was still feeling enough discomfort to put him out on Saturday.

After a day off on Saturday, Yost will send him to the Minor League camp to get some at-bats on Sunday.

"We're just trying to get him back before the season starts, as close to 100 percent as we can get. He can play at 85 [percent] which is obvious -- he's played at it the last couple days," Yost said. "We'll send him up to the Minor League games where he can get five or six at-bats a day and really doesn't have to push it. Keep him going that way."

So far in the Cactus League, Hosmer is hitting .378 (14-for-37) with 13 RBIs in 13 games.

Collins 'off-kilter' in rough relief outing

OAK@KC: Collins strikes out three in the eighth

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals left-hander Tim Collins apparently has a touch of the post-World Baseball Classic blues.

His first two innings after his return from the Classic went OK -- a total of one run and three hits in two outings -- but his seventh inning on Saturday against Arizona was a little horror show. He gave up six straight hits, including a double and a homer, and five runs.

"He was really throwing the ball well before he went to the WBC, then he went and kind of sat for a while, got off-kilter a little bit," manager Ned Yost said. "Not too much concern. There are just mechanical things we need to continue to address with him, and Dave [Eiland, the Royals pitching coach] thinks he'll be fine."

Collins pitched just one inning in two games during his two-week absence to play for Team USA in the Classic.

The D-backs took a 9-7 lead against Collins, but the Royals came back to win, 11-10.

Collins' spot in the bullpen is secure, but right-hander J.C. Gutierrez is trying to win the last available spot and he struggled in the eighth inning on Saturday. He gave up a leadoff homer to Alfredo Marte and the D-backs loaded the bases with three singles, although Gutierrez pitched out of it.

"He needs to put his best foot forward, especially going into the last week," Yost said. "But, again, he gave up the leadoff home run and got out of it with the bases loaded. It got a little hairy, but he got out of it so give him credit for that."

Mendoza looks sharp in Minor League game

Yost on growth of Mendoza and his roster

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza, trying to win the Royals' No. 5 starting job, worked six innings without giving up an earned run in a Minor League game on Friday night.

Pitching against Round Rock, the Rangers' Triple-A team, Mendoza gave up two unearned runs along with six hits and two walks. He struck out two, throwing 78 pitches (54 strikes).

"He looked fine," manager Ned Yost said.

Mendoza is vying with left-hander Bruce Chen to be the fifth starter behind James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis. Chen pitched in a Minor League game on Thursday.

Each has his last Cactus League outing next week. Chen will start against the Mariners on Tuesday and Mendoza against the Brewers on Wednesday.