SURPRISE, Ariz. — Jose Abreu hit his first home run as a Chicago White Sox split-squad and the Kansas City Royals tied 6-6 on Thursday.
The Cuban defector who signed with the White Sox for six years and $68 million in October, connected for a two-run shot into Chicago’s bullpen in right field off Brad Penny in the fifth inning. Abreu hit 30 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons in Cuba. He also hit .360 with six home runs in 25 at-bats in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
“It was a fastball outside and I was able to put a very good swing on it,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It was my best contact of the spring so far. ... I hit them all over the field. I hit the ball to all parts of the field. Today it was just an outside pitch and I was able to put it that way. But the important thing is I get them.”
Alex Gordon led the Royals, going 3 for 3 with two runs and a RBI, while Pedro Ciriaco homered and doubled.
“I felt comfortable up there,” Gordon said. “That’s all you can ask for. It’s great to get three hits, but it’s just the mentality of being up there and seeing pitches and, at the end of the day, knowing you were ready to hit.”
Royals left-hander Jason Vargas pitched three scoreless innings and has not allowed a run over five innings in his first two starts.
White Sox shortstop Alexi Ramirez, who was 0 for 8 in his first three games, went 3 for 3.
STARTING TIME — White Sox: Chris Beck, a highly touted prospect who was a 2012 second-round pick out of Georgia Southern, yielded two runs on four hits and two walks in three innings, throwing 30 strikes and 30 balls. He acknowledged he “absolutely” had jitters for his first outing.
“This is a good lineup to face especially to get my feet wet,” Beck said. “They’re pretty much loaded with All-Stars from top to bottom. For the first outing, I’ll take it. I’m not satisfied by any means. I definitely expect more, but it’s something to build off for sure.”
Royals: Vargas gave up five hits, but three failed to leave the infield.
“The idea is to go out there and keep them from scoring and do it as quickly as possible, so if that means getting a couple guys on and getting multiple outs at one time, I’m good with that, too,” Vargas said.
TRAINER’S ROOM — White Sox: Reliever Nate Jones (strained left glute) threw a bullpen session Wednesday with no problems and will make his spring training debut Saturday against the Diamondbacks. ... Right-hander Matt Lindstrom (strained left oblique) felt discomfort in a throwing session Wednesday and has been shut down.
Royals: Luke Hochevar went Thursday to Los Angeles for a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on his sprained right elbow ligament. The Royals are hopeful Hochevar will not require surgery and can return to the bullpen by early June. ... Second baseman Omar Infante has inflammation in his right shoulder that bothers him when throwing.
HIT HARD — Penny, a two-time National League All-Star who is attempting to come back after sitting out last year, gave up four runs on eight hits, including three doubles and Abreu’s home run, in two innings. He has a 15.75 ERA in his first two outings.
SHOWING OFF SPEED — Micah Johnson, who led the minors with 83 stolen bases last year, singled with one out for the White Sox in the third, but Vargas promptly picked him off first base. Johnson had a bunt single in the fifth and scored. Johnson collected his third hit in the ninth inning, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored the tying run on a ground out.