Vargas targets outs in quality Cactus debut

Vargas targets outs in quality Cactus debut

PHOENIX -- It was an eventful, and a bit unconventional, day of work for Jason Vargas in his Cactus League debut on Monday, but the left-hander was efficient against the Brewers and he came out of the start feeling like he executed his pitches.

Vargas logged two innings, surrendering one run on two hits while striking out three. He technically struck out the side in the second, but his first strikeout victim, Khris Davis, reached first on a wild pitch and eventually scored.

"The goal was just to get guys out," Vargas said. "I've never really been one to try to go out there and work on any one specific thing other than trying to compete. I feel that that's the most important thing to get back into the groove. The more you can compete and not really worry about what you're trying to work on necessarily has worked better for me."

After retiring the Brewers in order in the first, the Royals had to work for Vargas' outs in the second. Aramis Ramirez roped a single into the gap, but he was thrown out trying to move to second by Whit Merrifield. Davis struck out but advanced, then he scored on a Martin Maldonado triple that got by a diving Jorge Bonifacio in right field.

Vargas struck out the next two hitters, then he moved to the bullpen to finish his afternoon of work. He said he threw about 10 more pitches -- or two simulated hitters, Vargas said.

"It's definitely a different feeling than getting all your pitches in on the mound, but any time you can get out of there with less pitches than you should, is always a good thing," Vargas said.

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