3/15/2014 8:37 P.M. ET
Shields stays in rhythm against Cubs
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If it hadn't been for a ground ball up the middle that second baseman Johnny Giavotella couldn't quite corral, Royals pitcher James Shields might have had six perfect innings on Saturday.
As it was, Christian Villanueva got an infield single and was the only baserunner against Shields, who dominated a Cubs split squad with a 10-strikeout performance.
"I was giving Gio a little hard time in that inning. I said, 'If I don't give up a hit, it's all your fault, right?' " Shields said with a smile.
"I felt really good out there. Me and [catcher Salvador Perez] were on the same page the entire game, I hardly had to shake with him. When you get in a rhythm and groove with your catcher, you get in a rhythm on the mound and execute your pitches, so today went real well."
Shields has been working to refine his delivery with pitching coach Dave Eiland and it's apparently working well. He's allowed just one earned run in 14 2/3 innings for a 0.61 ERA.
"One of the things we talked about before Spring Training started is really honing in that delivery right out of the gate," Shields said. "I feel really good out of the mound. Obviously, the stamina part is not quite there yet, but that's just normal Spring Training stuff. Everything else is good."
Left-hander Tim Collins did not have a good day, giving up three runs in the ninth as the Cubs rallied for a 6-5 victory on a wind-blown afternoon.
"It was a combination of factors," manager Ned Yost said. "One was it's his first time back-to-back and the elements played [a role]. I mean, he's out of the inning if we catch a fly ball. It's one of those Arizona things."
Dyson, Giavotella make long-distance connections
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Small in stature but big in the box score -- that was Jarrod Dyson and Johnny Giavotella on Saturday for the Royals.
Both hit home runs off Cubs Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija. Dyson led off the first with his to right field, and Giavotella banged his two-run shot to left in the third.
"I was just telling him, what are the odds of me and him hitting a home run in the same game and nobody else? It's rare, but we're going to take it," Giavotella said.
In addition, Giavotella had a single and a sacrifice fly, and Dyson drew two walks, stole a base and scored a second run.
Giavotella's sac fly came close to clearing the fence, too.
"I didn't think I got the second one," he said. "It was a slider that got in on me a little bit and it didn't really come over the plate like I thought it would. It kind of jammed me, but I was able to get it up in the air for a sac fly. I was hoping it'd catch some wind a little bit, but it just wasn't meant to be."
Manager Ned Yost was more excited about Dyson's two walks than his homer.
"That's bigger to me than the home run," Yost said. "That's exactly what we want him to do. We want him to look at pitches, take pitches, work at-bats and do anything he possibly can to get on base. And he's really doing a nice job of that this spring."
Dyson was happy about the walks, too.
"I'm not a home-run hitter and I just put a good swing on a pitch and it got out. But I don't look to hit the long ball, just try to work my way on base and I think I've been walking more than anything this spring, and I'm really happy with that," Dyson said. "I'm not going outside the zone swinging at pitches, and I'm able to draw walks. Even if I get behind in the count, no panic."
Dyson leads the Royals with nine walks and is hitting .364 (8-for-22).
Escobar not expected to return until midweek
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Shortstop Alcides Escobar won't be back in the Royals' lineup for at least three more days.
"We're shooting for Wednesday, after the off-day," manager Ned Yost said. The Royals have their only open date of the Cactus League schedule on Tuesday.
Yost said that Escobar needed three days off after receiving a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder, then a couple days after that to build up his throwing arm.
Escobar has played just three of the Royals' 17 games so far. He missed the start of the Cactus League schedule for the birth of his son, and his shoulder became sore shortly after his return.
Yost will take time in filling out rotation
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura?
One of them will fill the Royals' remaining rotation spot, but manager Ned Yost isn't quite certain when he might announce a decision.
"Here's the thing: Ventura had a great outing, Duffy had a bad outing. We're still going to bide time." Yost said.
"I'm not going to make the decision off one bad outing or one good outing. During the season, you have a bad outing [and] let's go get 'em tomorrow. During Spring Training, you have a bad outing [and] the world's caving in. That's not the case."
So far, Duffy has given up 11 earned runs, 15 hits and four runs in nine innings. Ventura, in 9 1/3 innings, has given up three runs, six hits and one walk. He also has nine strikeouts, Duffy eight.
"I've got a pretty good idea what I'm going to do. But I don't know yet definitely what I'm going to do," Yost said. "There are 10 people that are going to sit down and make this decision, this isn't just my decision only. My decision carries a lot of weight, but we've got a bunch of good baseball minds trying to figure out what's best for this organization."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.