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2013 Outlook: Guthrie to build off hot finish to 2012

The Royals' vaulted expectations for the 2013 campaign came about largely because of their offseason rotation renovation project.

The club added starters James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana and also re-signed right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. While the three newcomers garner much of the acclaim, it is Guthrie who actually proved to be the Royals' best pitcher last season.

After the Rockies shipped the veteran to Kansas City last July, Guthrie posted a 5-3 record and 3.16 ERA in 14 outings. Four of those starts came against the White Sox, who he will face Thursday.

Guthrie feasted on Chicago last season, allowing just one earned run in 29 2/3 innings, for a 0.30 ERA against the South Siders.

Guthrie said the midseason change of scenery provided him a lift.

"For me, it was a great opportunity to get to KC and get a fresh start last year," Guthrie said. "I wasn't pitching well [in Colorado,] and it was a tough situation going back and forth between the bullpen and starting; it wasn't something I was very comfortable with, so it was a real blessing for me to get traded."

Given Guthrie's recent history against the White Sox, it would appear that Robin Ventura's squad will have little margin for error Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field. In Wednesday's 5-2 win against the Royals, Chicago committed three defensive miscues.

"For us to be in games, we're going to have to play defense," Ventura said. "You just can't give up outs in this league. Any time you start giving away outs, you always seem to pay for it. Whether it's that or walking leadoff guys or anything like that, those are almost absolutes. If you give them opportunities, you're going to pay for it."

Royals: Yost weighing Interleague options

• Manager Ned Yost said he still was not sure how he would construct his lineups for the Royals' Interleague series in Philadelphia this weekend. Kansas City will lose the privilege of the designated hitter, meaning Billy Butler will have to move to first base -- creating a sequential series of shifts -- or come off the bench.

"I'm still evaluating it," Yost said. "We've got a righty and two lefties [starting for the Phillies] there, and we'll just see how it goes."

• Against Thursday's White Sox starter, Gavin Floyd, Jeff Francoeur is 6-for-15, .400; Alex Gordon, 8-for-22, .364; and Chris Getz, 4-for-11, .364. Billy Butler is just 9-for-40, .225.

White Sox: Ventura encouraged by Thornton's health

• Southpaw Matt Thornton has logged a lot of mileage on his left arm. The reliever has made more than 60 appearances in each of the last seven seasons. Chicago's skipper is pleased, however, to see the 36-year-old Thornton looking sound and healthy.

Thornton was bothered at the start of Spring Training by a sore quadriceps. Ventura said the pitcher now appears close to normal.

"I think any time a guy goes out there and he's not throwing that way, your antenna goes up a bit because you know you are used to seeing a certain thing," Ventura said. "Even though they can say they are all right, you are not seeing it when they go out there. So, it's nice seeing the last couple of times going out in Spring Training in a game, he looked normal. He looked normal the other day, too. That's one of those that they can all say, 'Oh, no. I feel fine.' Unless you see it in a game, that's when you become comfortable with it."

• No one has questioned whether catcher Tyler Flowers will hit for power. On Wednesday, the backstop slugged his second homer in as many contests.

Flowers, however, wants to boast a respectable batting average. Through two tilts, he is sitting at .500 (3-for-6).

"I don't plan on accepting hitting .220 or .230," Flowers said. "The goal is much higher than that."

Worth noting

• Paul Konerko tacked on another hit Wednesday to tie Frank Thomas for third on the franchise all-time hits list with 2,136.

• Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar made his first regular-season relief appearance since 2010 when he tossed an inning out of the bullpen Wednesday.

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