Votto returns to lineup, Leake sharp in first start of spring

Boesch slugs second homer in bid to make roster

Votto returns to lineup, Leake sharp in first start of spring

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Rios, who hit only four homers all last season, ripped his third of the spring in the fifth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.

"It's still early," Rios said. "But it's a good thing."

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who suffered through an injury-plagued 2014, made his first appearance of the spring and singled in two trips to the plate, and Brennan Boesch, trying to make the Reds as an extra outfielder, slammed his second home run of the spring.

Votto on returning from injury

Boesch homered in the fifth inning off right-hander Louis Coleman, who is fighting for one of the final spots in the Royals' bullpen. Coleman's chances likely were diminished earlier in the day when the Royals signed veteran right-hander Chris Young, who will be the Royals' primary middle and long reliever.

The Royals got on the board first in the third inning when catcher Erik Kratz got the game's first hit with a bad-hop double down the left-field line. Kratz went to third on a wild pitch and scored on rookie Christian Colon's line single to left-center.

Colon is getting playing time now while second baseman Omar Infante mends from an inflamed elbow. An MRI on Infante this week showed no ligament damage and Infante isn't expected to be out long term.

Royals starter Danny Duffy, who battled through a rib-cage injury at the end of last season, looked sharp in his spring debut. He retired the Reds in order through the first two innings, throwing 20 pitches, 13 for strikes.

"I didn't feel (the rib injury) at all," Duffy said. "I felt really good. I would have liked to have gotten a few more balls down, but overall it was good."

Reds starter Mike Leake, likely the team's No. 3 starter, was equally as sharp, retiring all six hitters he faced, three by strikeout.

"It felt good to get back in there and start attacking hitters," Leake said. "It was fun. I tried to minimize pitches and throw strikes.

"I missed a few spots, threw a few good pitches. … I felt we could have thrown to a couple of more batters."

Up next: Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips will be back in the Reds lineup Sunday when they host the Mariners at 4:05 p.m. ET in Goodyear. Rotation candidate Jason Marquis, who worked two scoreless innings in the spring opener vs. Cleveland, is scheduled to make his second start and will face J.A. Happ. Also expected to be pitching for Cincinnati are Raisel Iglesias and Manny Parra.

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