SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Billy Butler banged an RBI double off the right-field wall and added a single to get his Spring Training game action off to a vigorous start in Thursday's intrasquad game.
But it was a defensive play at first base that set off the biggest reaction from his Royals teammates. In the last inning, he fielded Greg Golson's bouncer and glove-flipped the ball to pitcher Kelvin Herrera covering first to retire Golson.
"That was one of those tweener plays. I didn't have time to go in my glove and I had to get it to Kelvin and I'm glad he adjusted to it because it wasn't perfect," Butler said.
Butler played just 11 games at first base last season including only three after Eric Hosmer arrived in May but he might see more time in the field this season. Manager Ned Yost plans to give Hosmer a break once in a while by switching him and Butler between first base and designated hitter.
Butler was happy to get the game action going.
"I'm just getting the rust out of me. I got a couple of hits and I'm just trying to get comfortable again. I'm definitely not completely comfortable. It's the first day you get the tunnel out of there, the L-screen [off the mound] and it looks like a real game," Butler said. "It's good to get a couple of those before the games start on Sunday."
The Royals open the Cactus League season against the Texas Rangers at 1:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Surprise Stadium.
Offense rules in Thursday intrasquad game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For one inning of the Royals' intrasquad game on Thursday, the old spring refrain of "the pitchers are ahead of the hitters" had a hollow ring. The batters were thumping away.
Seven runs were scored in the first inning before the pitchers reclaimed control, allowing only one run in the remaining 5 2/3 innings of the first game action of this camp. Final: Blue 5, White 3.
"The energy of play for an intrasquad game stood out for me so I thought it was a really good day," manager Ned Yost said.
The effort of Lorenzo Cain in beating out a ground ball to second baseman Johnny Giavotella in the Blue first inning proved vital. Chris Getz led off with a single and Cain hit a ground ball to the right side and was safe at first, leading to five-run inning.
On the other hand, it was a defensive lapse.
"It's a routine ground ball that has to be made," Yost said. "That's a good thing to happen early. In all phases of it, it heightens your awareness that we're back in competition and it shows, hey, we've got to hustle because good things happen."
In the five-run inning Billy Butler had an RBI double, Salvador Perez lined a two-run double and Mitch Maier had a run-scoring single, all against right-hander Sean O'Sullivan who faced all nine hitters.
Alex Gordon drove in both of the White team's first-inning runs with a single against Vin Mazzaro. Giavotella's single and Eric Hosmer's double preceded Gordon's liner to left.
It was a busy day for the Royals. The game was preceded by measurements for uniforms and followed by a meeting of the players' union. There will be another intrasquad game on Friday at 12:30 p.m. MT at the George Brett Field.
Collins shows progress with command
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Tim Collins came into camp with the purpose of improving his pitch command and cutting down on walks. Judging from his performance in Thursday's intrasquad game, manager Ned Yost believes Collins is making progress.
"No doubt," Yost said. "He didn't elevate one pitch until the last pitch of the inning which he elevated on purpose to strike a hitter out. So I was very impressed by the way he threw the ball today. He commanded every pitch that he threw, had good life on his pitches and it was a very, very impressive outing for him."
Collins retired Chris Getz on a grounder to first, then struck out both Lorenzo Cain and Billy Butler. The one high pitch was to Butler who swung and missed.
"I was trying to put a little extra on it and it just got up in the zone. He still got a pretty good swing. I think I threw enough strikes to get somebody to chase the ball," Collins said.
"It just felt good to go out there and throw strikes," he added.
In fact, the 13 pitchers who each worked one inning in the game combined to issue just one walk (Tommy Hottovy passed Wil Myers) while piling up 14 strikeouts in the 6 ½ innings.
In addition to Collins, Louis Coleman and Jeremy Jeffress each pitched a perfect inning. Coleman, in fact, retired four hitters as another batter was added to his inning to give him more work. Mike Montgomery retired three straight batters after an inning-opening error.
"It was pretty good the way the pitchers threw today. They kept the ball down and made the guys swing the bat," catcher Salvador Perez said. "It was pretty good today for the first game."
Yost not thinking about new playoff format
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ned Yost was non-committal when asked what he thought about the pending proposal to add another wild card team to each league's playoffs. No Royals fan is likely to question his attitude on the matter.
"I have not thought for one split-second about an extra playoff spot," the Royals' manager said. "I have no opinion on it. If they want to put one in, fine; if they don't want to put one in, fine. Whatever they want to do is fine with me. Because my goal is not to make the one-game playoff. My goal is to win the world championship."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.