GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ervin Santana's next start will be in the season's second game on Wednesday against the White Sox at Chicago. Ready?
"Almost ready, not yet," Santana said, grinning. "I'm going to wait for my turn and then I'll be ready."
He worked four innings in the Royals' 8-3 win over the Reds on Thursday and wrapped things up with a 4.70 ERA and 1-1 record in six starts.
"I'm very excited with my performance this year. I have to keep it up, keep throwing strikes and keep working hard," Santana said.
Santana gave up two runs on seven hits.
"I thought he threw the ball extremely well," manager Ned Yost said. "Really limited the damage in the first inning and really buckled down when he had runners in scoring position."
Bruce Chen, now pitching out of the bullpen, worked two scoreless innings and gave up one hit.
"I was really pleased with the way that Bruce threw the ball and was on the attack," Yost said.
Hard-hitting Royals keep it going against Reds
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Royals posted 16 more hits in Thursday's 8-3 win over the Reds and they're certain to win the Spring Training team batting championship. Their .338 average is 29 points ahead of the second-place Angels.
"Pretty good hittin' team," manager Ned Yost said. "You could go down the list, they've all had a great spring -- Alex Gordon. Man, oh man, I don't know if you could swing the bat better than he is right now."
Gordon hit his seventh home run on Thursday and is hitting .420. Chris Getz, .450; Lorenzo Cain, .446; and Mike Moustakas, .418, are other Royals among the Majors' top 10 hitters this spring.
"We're just putting together good at-bats," Yost said. "I'm pleased with that."
There are conditions in Arizona that are beneficial to hitters, Yost conceded.
"Pitchers are working on certain things and you've got hard infields and sun fields, wind-blown. There are a lot of variables in the hitter's favor, but we're hitting the ball awful hard and we're putting ourselves in good hitting counts and I just like our approach," Yost said.
That approach has resulted in a 24-7-2 record, also the best in baseball, with their final game coming Friday against the Indians.
Butler has adventurous day at first, at plate
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The good news when the two giant-sized first basemen collided on Thursday was there were no injuries.
The Reds' Joey Votto socked a liner to the left-field corner in the first inning, and as he was rounding first base, plowed into Royals first baseman Billy Butler and both went tumbling. The umpires ruled obstruction against Butler and awarded Votto second base for a double. Butler begged to differ, noting that the contact occurred far out of the base line, rather near the outfield grass.
"There's got to be a stopping point," Butler said, noting that Votto rounded first base abnormally far. "Never did I make a move to get in his way, but it's the defender that gets the obstruction.
"When it was hit, I actually went toward the outfield to clear more of a lane. I was watching the ball and, usually what happens, is I wait for him to go by and I trail him to second. Votto was watching the ball and wasn't even looking where he was running."
Votto didn't go past Butler, but into him.
That wasn't Butler's only conflict with the rule book. In the fourth inning, he took a strike down the middle to allow Elliot Johnson to steal second base. But the umpire interfered with Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan's throw and, when things were sorted out, the play was called dead and Johnson had to return to first. Initially, the press box was informed that Butler committed the interference.
Nope, Butler told reporters. It was the ump's fault and, in Butler's view, Johnson should have been given the stolen base because he was already there. Didn't happen.
"He has to go back to first base and I still take the strike," Butler said, looking perplexed.
At least nobody got hurt.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.