The Royals got on Dexter Carter early. After opening the game with a walk, he surrendered a single through the vacated hole at shortstop on a hit-and-run. A triple to deep left-center followed from Royals prospect Eric Hosmer to put the Padres in an early 2-0 hole. After a line out, Carter nabbed a strikeout and a ground out to strand the runner at third.
He went on to work a 1-2-3 second inning, needing 30 pitches to make it through his entire outing. His changeup looks much improved over years past and the early struggles seemed to come from a fastball that wasn't down in the zone. Once he settled in, the downhill plane of his pitches improved, as he stayed low in the zone.
"Everything felt good," Carter said of once he setted down. "I don't think they were squaring the ball up well once I got into a groove."
Pedro Hernandez tossed a pair of scoreless frames, yielding one single. His 25-pitch outing featured three ground ball outs. Hernandez' changeup was spotted well on the outside corner and got several players to swing over top, pounding it into the dirt.
John Hussey seemed to find a rhythm and flashed a plus curveball that was more two-plane and in the zone. He walked one in each of his frames and tossed 26 pitches but also got four ground ball outs, including a double play.
Hayden Beard worked around trouble in his first frame. After a pop out, he walked the subsequent batter. He promptly picked off the runner at first base. A triple followed to deep left-center. After a walk, Beard induced an inning ending ground ball out. Beard would not be so lucky in his second inning of work. A walk opened the frame and a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second. A second walk followed and Beard was pulled with 36 pitches already in the bank. His changeup lacked command, and his fastball hit 94 but was not placed well. There were times where it had downward movement and other moments where it flattened out. Those flat pitches were hammered.
Rafeal Arias, the closer in the AZL last season came on to preserve a 3-2 lead. He drilled the first hitter he faced to load the bases with one out. After a pop out, Arias surrendered a base clearing double, two of the runs going against Beard. He would retire his final four hitters, all via ground outs.
"Early in the spring, my timing has been off," Decker said. "I always figured it would take me 15-20 at-bats to get into a groove.
"I sat in the dugout and was really driving into my head by the middle of the game, ‘see ball, hit ball, see ball, hit ball, to make it as simple as I possibly can. After that, everything felt fantastic."
Jon Alia, a replacement midway through the game, singled in each of his at-bats. He also scored a run. Bo Davis singled twice in three at-bats and added a stolen base but did not figure into the scoring.
Kyle Loretelli scored the first San Diego run with a single to right off top Royals prospect Tim Melville. He also walked but struck out with two runners in scoring position later in the game. Allan Dykstra drew a pair of walks, scored a run and struck out once. Cole Figueroa drew a walk and scored a run. He also had a failed sacrifice bunt and grounded out.
Drew Cumberland had a single and a stolen base. Chadd Hartman walked twice but did not figure into the scoring. Emmanuel Quiles struck out in both of his at-bats, once coming with the bases loaded. Jason Hagerty, Kevin Winn and Matt Vern all came into the game late but went hitless. Vince Belnome exited after two at-bats, going hitless.
The outfielder slimmed down to 190 pounds at one point this off-season but felt he lost too much of the power edge that makes him so deadly. He is back up to 200 pounds and plans to play through the year between 200 and 205. Decker looks sleek and fit.
"I want to run the bases like I did in high school – be aggressive out there and make more things happen," Decker said.
Chris Ahearn suffered an injury that has kept him out of action – and will keep him out for at least four more weeks.
Keyvius Sampson threw a 45-pitch bullpen on Sunday and should be ready for game action soon. Whispers are that he will begin the year in extended spring training since he is behind some other pitchers in camp.
Sampson had some shoulder pain that went into the offseason and the team has taken a cautious approach to his workload.
"I threw my fastball, curveball, changeup today," Sampson said. "It was mostly stretching and dumbbell exercises until today."
Gary Poynter underwent surgery this week and is unlikely to return for the 2010 season.
The Double-A team won 5-2. Chris Fetter was on the hook for one run, coming on a passed ball, across two innings.
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