Royals topple Indians to finish spring 25-7-2; Tigers win, sign Verlander to $180M contract


SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Kansas City Royals wrapped up their most successful spring training in team history with one final win.

Alex Gordon, Jeff Francoeur, Elliot Johnson, and Roman Hernandez homered as the Royals beat the Indians 5-1 Friday.

The Royals finished 25-7-2, the best exhibition record in the majors.

"There's a lot to like about this team," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I think we've got a great defense. I think our starting pitching is going to be a focal point and a strong asset to our club. Our relief pitching has always been dynamite in my mind."

"I think where we're at offensively now is more the team I envisioned it to be. A team that can score runs, that can drive the gaps, and can hit the ball over the fence. I love the chemistry. I love the makeup. I love the enthusiasm that we have in our clubhouse," he said.

The Royals finished with a Cactus League-leading .335 batting average and 230 runs.

"For me, this could be the very first time I'm leaving spring training or had a team where I feel really, really good about every aspect of it. It's a nice feeling," Yost said.

Jeremy Guthrie, who will be the Royals' No. 3 starter, allowed one run and six hits in four innings. He pitched out of trouble in the second and third innings by inducing Jason Kipnis and Lou Marson to ground into double plays.

Ubaldo Jimenez, who had not allowed a home run in his first 25 1-3 innings this spring, yielded a home run to Gordon on his second pitch. It was Gordon's team-leading eighth home run, and he finished with a .438 batting average.

Francoeur and Johnson homered in the fifth.

"I only gave up three hits — three home runs," Jimenez said. "Two of them they were bad pitches, but the ball flies here. If I left it a little bit up, then it's a home run here."

Jimenez won 19 games in 2010 and 15 in 2009 for the Colorado Rockies, but has a 13-21 record with a 5.32 ERA in 42 starts with the Indians.

The Indians acquired Jimenez in a trade on July 31, 2011, and he acknowledged it has been a frustrating two seasons.

"I'm a human being," Jimenez said. "Especially coming to a team that traded for you because they wanted you to help them. I'm not able to do anything for them. It definitely gets to your mind. When is this going to end? When am I going to start doing what I'm supposed to do?"

Tigers top Rays

LAKELAND, Fla. — Jeremy Hellickson has not been happy with his performance for Tampa Bay all spring.

His manager is not worried.

The Rays' No. 2 starter allowed eight runs — six earned — in three innings of an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Tiger on Friday in his final tuneup before the regular season.

It's been a rough camp for Hellickson, who finished with a 6.75 ERA in Grapefruit League play. Hellickson, the 2011 AL rookie of the year, went 10-11 with a 3.10 ERA last year while winning a Gold Glove.

"He's healthy, he's fine, and that's all that matters," Joe Maddon said. "He'll be ready when it comes time to make his first start."

Hellickson said despite the results of his last five outings — 18 runs in 21 1-3 innings — he felt ready for the season. He will make his first start Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Hellickson gave up homers to Prince Fielder, Alex Avila, and Omar Infante on Friday.

Hours after rotation-mate Justin Verlander got the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher, Max Scherzer extended his dominant spring training with six innings of one-hit ball. Scherzer, the Tigers' No. 5 starter, finishes the spring with a 0.57 ERA. He struck out nine and has only allowed one earned run over 25 1-3 innings.

"I like where I am right now," Scherzer said. "There are still ways I can be better, and I have things I can still work on, but I am 100 percent ready to get this season started."

Verlander agreed to a $180 million, seven-year contract on Friday.

Miguel Cabrera had two doubles for the Tigers, and Austin Jackson tripled. Sam Fuld homered off Octavio Dotel for the Rays.