SURPRISE, Ariz. — Kansas City Royals right-hander Glenn Sparkman struggled to find a consistent level of performance as a starting pitcher.
He had high points such as his nine-inning shutout performance against the Chicago White Sox last July. He had lows too, such as three-inning outing earlier that month on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays in which he allowed three home runs and eight earned runs.
A full-time move to the bullpen this season seemed a logical and practical, and he still had minor-league options, which meant he could work out any rough spots in Triple-A Omaha.
But he just might make a case for the big-league club with outings like his two-inning no-hit performance against the White Sox in a 7-6 Cactus League win on Wednesday at Surprise Stadium. Bubba Starling hit his second home run of the spring.
Sparkman struck out to and showed a fastball that sat around 94-95 mph. In his previous outing he struck out three batters in 1 1/3 innings.
Right-handed pitcher Greg Holland made his second scoreless one-inning outing of the spring. He struck out two of the three batters he faced in the sixth inning.
Holland, who signed a minor-league deal and is a non-roster invitee to camp with the Royals, has said one of his main focuses this spring will be command. Last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he walked 24 batters in 35 2/3 innings.
"Command is a generic term," Holland said. "It's not just throwing the ball in the middle of the plate. It's having an idea of what you're doing out there at the same time. If I'm in a good spot with my delivery, I'm going to be successful.
"For me it's just trying to really key on that instead of going out and saying I'm going to throw 10-15, 20 pitches to get my arm in shape. It's going out there with an actual purpose, kind of really trying to feel my lower half in a spot where I can deliver the ball and where I'm not falling over into the dugout or anything."
Salvador Perez had been slated to catch for the first time this spring in the split squad game against the Chicago White Sox at Surprise Stadium on Wednesday. Instead he got the day off. Royals manager Mike Matheny said Perez still had soreness from a dental procedure, and he could be behind the plate as soon as Thursday.
Perez hasn't caught a spring training game since 2018. He missed the 2019 regular season following Tommy John surgery.
Whereas former manager Ned Yost always remained with the split squad in Surprise if another group went on the road for Cactus League play, Matheny decided to travel with the group that lost 8-0 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in Mesa.
Matheny said he plans to travel whenever the Royals send a group on the road. The group that traveled to Mesa included the quartet of young pitchers Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic.