Samardzija struggles in Sox debut

Orlin Wagner/APA ground ball hit by Kansas City’s Alex Gordon gets through Chicago White Sox infielders Alexei Ramirez (right) and Micah Johnson (left) during the seventh inning of a baseball game Monday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Two runs scored on the play. The Royals won 10-1.

Orlin Wagner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A season brimming with high expectations opened with a dud for Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago White Sox.

Yordano Ventura pitched six solid innings before exiting with a thumb cramp, former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios had a three-run homer among his three hits and the AL champion Kansas City Royals routed Chicago 10-1 on Monday in the American League baseball.

“I’m not going to say that it’s the whole season, but you want to get off to a good start. We didn’t,” White Sox Manager Robin Ventura said. “You just have to come back out on Wednesday and get back after it.”

The White Sox were outhit 13-5. They walked five Royals and watched four come around to score.

“That shows you how important it is to not give free passes,” said Samardzija, who walked three and hit two batters with pitches. “They put the bat on the ball, and the ball found some green spots. That’s how it goes some days.”

Yordano Ventura was replaced by Kelvin Herrera in the seventh inning after crumpling to the ground following a strike to Adam LaRoche. The preliminary report was a right thumb cramp.

“He throws hard,” said LaRoche, who went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. “He’s one of those guys who looks like he’s going to throw it 80 mph. It’s easy gas. It’s got a little rise on it. He’s got a good changeup and curveball. If his command is right, he’s going to be tough to get to.”

Ventura said he felt his thumb “lock up.”

“My first thought, it was something really bad, but I’m really happy that it’s not,” he said, with teammate Jeremy Guthrie translating. “I’m not concerned about it at all. It’s just a cramp, though, but it surprised me.”

Rios, making his Kansas City debut, homered in a five-run seventh inning with Kendrys Morales and Alex Gordon aboard. Gordon stroked a two-run single in the inning.

Jose Abreu homered in the seventh for Chicago.

Samardzija, who did not allow a run in 15 innings during a pair of opening-day starts with the Chicago Cubs the past two years, yielded five runs and six hits in six-plus innings. He also threw a wild pitch.

After an exhilarating postseason run last year that ended with a Game 7 loss to San Francisco in the World Series, the Royals got off to a fast start in 2015.

Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas, their first two hitters, went a combined 4-for-7 with two walks and five runs scored. Moustakas homered the opposite way in the fifth off Samardzija.

“We had some opportunities early, (and) we couldn’t capitalize on any of them,” Robin Ventura said. “You’ve got to get better at that.”


The Royals won their season opener for the first time in seven years. Their previous opening-day victory was March 31, 2008, at Detroit.


White Sox rookie second baseman Micah Johnson singled in the sixth for his first major league hit. Moments later, Yordano Ventura picked him off first.


White Sox: Left-handed pitcher Chris Sale, who broke his right foot Feb. 27, struck out seven and allowed a run on three hits in seven innings during a minor league game in Arizona. Sale is on target to come off the disabled list Sunday and start against Minnesota.

Royals: Gordon, who was limited to 10 exhibition games and hit just .200 in 35 at-bats following right wrist surgery in December, might be given periodic rests early in the season.


White Sox: Left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana, who is 0-6 in 12 career starts against the Royals, will take the mound Wednesday.

Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy, who starts Wednesday, has not faced the White Sox since 2011 at Kansas City. 

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