Notes: Bale impressive as starter

Notes: Bale impressive as starter

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander John Bale's bid to move into the Royals' rotation got a check mark on the plus side on Monday.

Bale pitched three scoreless innings with only a hit batter keeping him from a perfect performance in a 7-6 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

A reliever last season, Bale has been undergoing a transformation with direction from pitching coach Bob McClure.

"Not showing emotion out there, staying on an even keel, keeping the same tempo with all my pitches, and it's working really well," Bale said.

Bale struck out four, giving him seven strikeouts in his five innings this spring.

"All the strikeouts were on offspeed pitches, two on changeups and two on breaking balls," he said. "It's fun to get strikeouts on fastballs, but when you can put your offspeed where you want it and get guys off-balance, it's a good feeling, too."

Lefty Jorge De La Rosa, also trying to win a job, had a check mark on the minus side. He gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Catcher John Buck indicated De La Rosa's outing had some pluses. For one thing, he showed confidence in his secondary pitch in tough situations, a trait he didn't often exhibit last season.

"In the past, he hasn't been comfortable with it, but he told me he wanted to go to it and he made really good pitches," Buck said. "They fouled off a couple pitches and he just tried to overthrow on two pitches and, unfortunately, those happened to be the ones for the big hits."

Buck added that De La Rosa's stuff was good for the most part and he was around the plate.

Closer Joakim Soria, who pitched a perfect ninth, got the victory when Mark Teahen's single snapped a 6-6 tie in the bottom half. Jason Smith's walk plus singles by Angel Berroa and Alberto Callaspo set up the game-winning hit.

Hot wheels: Joey Gathright had three stolen bases and Mitch Maier one as the Royals practiced their speed game against the White Sox.

"With the lack of run production here last year, we're going to have to diversify and be more aggressive on the basepaths," manager Trey Hillman said. "If we don't do that in Spring Training, we're not going to be comfortable doing that during the season."

The Royals have nine steals in their five games, four by Gathright.

"If we can run the bases with the lack of fear that we have in the first five games, then we'll have a chance to steal some bases as a club," Hillman said. "We're not a real fast club. Joey Gathright is a plus runner; other than that, we've got guys who are just a little bit above average or average and we'll just have to do a good job of picking pitches and being smart when we run."

Davies encouraged: Right-hander Kyle Davies made his spring debut on Sunday with three innings against the Texas Rangers. He gave up one run and three hits.

"For the first time out, I thought it was good," Davies said. "I was very relaxed and didn't walk anybody. Obviously I wanted the fastball command to be a little better but I've really started to pitch more to contact -- not really scared if they hit the ball -- so it's a good thing."

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Davies is in the scramble for the last two spots in the rotation. He made 11 starts after being obtained from the Braves last season but had a tough time.

"I thought there were some good really good pitches, a whole lot better than anything I threw last year," he said. "So I feel like I'm on the right track."

Sick bay empties: Ryan Shealy, Justin Huber and Chris Lubanski, all victims of the rampaging flu bug, returned to the clubhouse and were in uniform on Monday morning.

Shealy came back on Sunday, probably too soon because he left after the workout feeling lousy.

"I hit the wall [Sunday]. I don't know what happened," he said. "But this is the first day I'm not aching."

Huber planned to take it slow.

"I'm just getting back on my feet. I'm not playing today or [Tuesday] so we'll see how it works out," Huber said.

Extra bases: Damon Hollins' two-run homer Monday was the Royals' third blast this spring. Ross Gload and Mario Lisson have the others. ... Shortstop Angel Sanchez, bothered by a groin pull, was back taking ground balls on Monday. .... The Royals' first "B" game is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. MT on Friday against the Rangers on a back field at the complex. ... Third baseman Alex Gordon is expected back from attending his grandfather's funeral in Nebraska in time for Tuesday's game against the Rockies.

Up next: The Royals travel to Tucson on Tuesday for a 2:05 p.m. CT game against the Colorado Rockies. Brett Tomko will start for the Royals followed by Brian Lawrence, Ryan Braun, Julio Pimentel, Tyler Lumsden and Carlos Rosa. The Rockies will start Ubaldo Jimenez.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.