Rotation hopefuls Morrow, Despaigne solid in loss to KC

Padres righties combine to allow one earned run over 5 2/3 innings

Rotation hopefuls Morrow, Despaigne solid in loss to KC

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs with two hits in the split-squad Royals' 4-3 Cactus League win Wednesday against the Padres at Surprise Stadium.

Right-hander Yordano Ventura, Kansas City's likely Opening Day starter, was much sharper than in his first spring outing. Ventura, who gave up four runs in his first start, threw three scoreless innings.

Ventura struck out three, including Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko twice, once on a wicked curve for a called strike three.

Although manager Ned Yost has not indicated who will start Opening Day, all signs point to Ventura, which would be just fine with him. Ventura said after the game he wants to start the opener.

"That would mean I have earned from the trust from everyone in the organization," he said through an interpreter. "…I'm working hard because I have a huge responsibility."

Ventura said he was pleased with his outing, especially with his breaking stuff.

"I threw [my curveball] more for strikes," he said. "Just making adjustments this time."

"[Ventura] made a really great adjustment from his last outing," Yost said. "He stopped going over his front side as much [during his delivery]. And he was really down in the zone in his last two innings. He did a good job."

Padres starter Brandon Morrow, who is battling with right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne for the fifth spot in the rotation, was effective as well. Morrow gave up four hits and one run, but struck out four while walking one in three innings. Two of Morrow's strikeouts came against Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Despaigne threw 2 2/3 innings and gave up three hits and no earned runs, walking one and striking out two.

Up next: The Padres have a 6:15 p.m. PT game against the Dodgers on Thursday at Peoria Stadium. It's James Shields for the Padres against Hyun-Jin Ryu for the Dodgers. Actor-comedian Will Ferrell is expected to play an inning for each team. The game can be heard on an exclusive webcast on padres.com and will be broadcast on MLB.TV.

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.