The best thing about Matt Harrison’s 2014 Cactus League debut was the way he felt afterward.
The left-hander’s back felt fine after logging 35 pitches in 1 2/3 innings against Kansas City, which scored three times against him in the second inning en route to a 6-0 victory at Surprise Stadium.
Next on the to-do list for Harrison, an All-Star in 2012, is to refine his off-speed pitches and get a hold on the mental part of pitching after not working in a game since a rehab start in August.
“I’ve definitely got some work to do,” said Harrison, who allowed three hits and three runs (two earned). “I’m just glad to be back in an A game and just getting that feel of going through the routine and getting ready to go out for a ballgame.
“The game kind of sped up on me. I have to get that mental stuff back and be able to slow the game down again. Overall, I was just glad to get through 35 pitches feeling healthy.”
Harrison worked around a two-out single by Eric Hosmer in the first, but Alex Gordon started the second with a walk on a pitch Harrison thought was strike three.
After Salvador Perez flied out, Mike Moustakas doubled off the right-field wall for a 1-0 lead and came around when the next batter, Lorenzo Cain, singled to center.
Harrison retired Pedro Ciriaco on a grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus, but he was charged with an error on a low throw that beat Norichika Aoki to first base. Cain scored, and Harrison was done down 3-0.
The Royals added two runs in the fourth against Joe Saunders and another in the seventh against Pedro Figueroa.
“I’ve still got some work to do on the location of my pitches,” said Harrison, who had two back surgeries last year and was slowed early this spring by lower-back soreness. “I’ve definitely go to work on getting my off-speed pitches down. That’s what beat me today.”
Jurickson Profar made his Cactus League debut at second base and was tested on the game’s first play. He easily handled a grounder by Aoki, and ended the inning by chasing down a Billy Butler pop-up to short right field.
Not all injury news was good for the Rangers, who watched Mitch Moreland exit after the second inning with tightness in his left oblique muscle.