Notes: Bannister impressive in debut
Right-hander not flashy, but effective in spring opener
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Brian Bannister wanted to make a good first impression. He certainly did.
Bannister, who was acquired by the Royals in a December trade with the Mets, threw 14 strikes in 17 pitches, working two scoreless innings against the Angels in the Spring Training opener. He gave up one single, struck out one and walked none.
"That is the way I try to pitch," Bannister said. "You read in every article that I'm no more than a fourth or fifth starter, that I don't have good stuff. I enjoy that because I just go out there and try to get the job done.
"It is not flashy. I make the hitters think. I hit my spots. I'm aggressive. I try to get outs early in the count and get deep into the game. Obviously, it is not the Nolan Ryan approach."
Or the approach of his father, Floyd, who pitched 15 seasons in the Majors including two years for the Royals?
"It is not 95 [miles per hour] from the left side," Brian said with a laugh.
Brian takes more the Greg Maddux approach?
"That is what kind of pitcher I am," Bannister said. "That is what I want to come out and do, throw that first-pitch strike and get ahead. I know hitters are trying to track."
Bannister had flu-like symptoms earlier in the week.
"I've been cutting back on my running the last couple of days to make sure I get healthy," Bannister said. "It worked out because I did feel good today. I've been pretty run down the last couple of days."
Soria shines: Joakim Soria, a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Padres, pitched two hitless innings after Bannister departed.
"I'm happy," Soria said. "I waited all my life for this time, to be here in the Major Leagues. It is Spring Training, but it is the same. It is the Major Leagues. I try to do good."
Soria threw a slow breaking ball past Shea Hillenbrand for a called third strike in the fourth.
Losing lead: Billy Butler stroked a two-run single in the ninth to give the Royals a 6-4 lead over the Angels. Left-hander Will Franklin, who is in camp on a Minor League contract, could not hold it.
"It was pretty much a typical Spring Training game the way both teams played defense," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "Bannister and Soria, I thought, were pretty impressive. Guys are trying to get their feet underneath them. Overall, I thought it was OK. Some of our younger kids made some mental mistakes that they'll get better at and the game will slow down for them."
Shortstop contingency: Esteban German, who has played only one game at shortstop in the Majors, will start at shortstop in a "B" game on Friday.
"We'll see more of him at short in Spring Training than we did last year," Bell said. "We'll see if we can have some sort of comforting feeling if we need him to play short. We'll just have to wait and see. That is the reason he is going to see more time at short."
Gonzalez, who started at shortstop for the Blue Jays and Cubs, is in camp as a non-roster invitee, as a possible backup to Angel Berroa. If the Royals do not put Gonzalez on the Major League roster, they must go to a Plan B to fill in for Berroa.
"Our other alternative is [second baseman Mark] Grudzielanek playing short, which we feel confident he can do," Bell said. "We prefer him not to do that. He can play short and German can play second if we needed that and we don't feel good about Estey playing short. Those are some of the things we have to manage as the spring goes on and kind of figure out what we need to do."
German started at second base against the Angels and went 1-for-1 with two walks.
Four sign: Mark Teahen, who led the club with 18 home runs last season, and first baseman Ryan Shealy, who hit .280 in 51 games after being acquired in a July 31 trade with the Rockies, were among four players who agreed to one-year contracts on Thursday.
The Royals also signed Bannister and outfielder Joey Gathright. The only unsigned Royals are right-hander Ken Ray and outfielder Shane Costa.
Royal tidbits: Scott Elarton, who is rehabbing after having shoulder surgery last August, had another bullpen session. ... Joe Nelson is scheduled to throw off the mound on Friday for the first time after being shut down a week with tightness in his right shoulder. ... In his outfield debut, Teahen caught one routine fly and fielded cleanly a single to right. ... Costa went 2-for-2 with a double, the only extra-base hit among the Royals' 13 hits.
Upcoming: Gil Meche is scheduled to start and pitch three innings on Friday against the Rangers in the Royals' first home game of the season at 2:05 p.m. CT. Kameron Loe will be the Texas starter. Dewon Brazelton and Jimmy Gobble are also scheduled to pitch for Kansas City. The two teams will also play a "B" game beginning at 10 a.m. on a back field. The Royals pitchers will include Luke Hochevar, the first overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Billy Buckner, Tyler Lumsden, Carlos Rosa and Danny Christensen. Sammy Sosa will be the Rangers DH in the morning game.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.