Blanton brushing off shaky intrasquad outing

Blanton brushing off shaky intrasquad outing

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Joe Blanton hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013, and he hasn't faced a hitter since last April, when he pitched in two games for Oakland's top affiliate before retiring from baseball.

Blanton's road back got off to a bumpy start in the Royals' first intrasquad game of the spring. He gave up four straight hits, including a booming double by Eric Hosmer off the center-field screen. After striking out Erik Kratz, Blanton served up a screaming two-run double to left to Ryan Roberts before pitching coach Dave Eiland said that was enough and called the inning.

Blanton, though, said he wasn't discouraged.

"I was facing hitters for the first time in a year," he said. "The ball came out all right. I thought it was OK.

"Next time I'll be more aggressive, shoot for some corners and maybe expand the zone a little. It won't take long to get it back."

Manager Ned Yost said he wasn't looking for anything in particular from Blanton.

"We don't make judgments off an intrasquad game," Yost said.

And that's a good thing for Rule 5 Draft pick Jandel Gustave, a right-hander who also had a rocky inning. Gustave walked his first hitter on four pitches, got a double-play ball, and then gave up four straight hits.

One of the highlights of the game -- the Royals' USA squad beat their International squad, 5-3 -- was a spectacular diving stop and throw to first from shortstop prospect Raul Mondesi.

"That was a special play," Yost noted.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jflanagankc. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.