How new Kansas City Royals pitcher Seth Lugo fared in his spring training debut

Kansas City Royals pitcher Seth Lugo has played in his share of spring training games.

Things are a little different this year.

Lugo, 34, has spent the majority of his major-league career as a reliever. Last season, he got an opportunity to start full-time with the San Diego Padres.

The veteran hurler turned in a 3.57 ERA in 26 starts. He pitched a career-high 146 1/3 innings and struck out 140 batters. He issued 36 walks and limited opponents to a .249 batting average.

This offseason, the Royals signed Lugo to a three-year deal worth $45 million. It was a significant investment in the big-league veteran.

On Monday, Lugo made his first start for the Royals, pitching against the Chicago Cubs at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona.

Lugo admitted to feeling nervous beforehand.

“If you’re not nervous, you don’t care right,” Lugo said. “You know, hopefully, that feeling never leaves me. That’s the best feeling about baseball. Being nervous, going out there, performing and overcoming it.”

Lugo quickly shook off his jitters. He fielded a comeback line drive and tossed the ball to first baseman Nick Pratto. He later induced a double play to wipe out a potential Cubs rally.

Lugo worked two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and one walk and struck out a batter.

In the second inning, Lugo hit a man before ending his outing on a high note. He struck out Cubs shortstop Luis Vasquez with a called third strike.

“That goes to show you what this game is about, right?” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “I mean everybody is going to have some nerves, especially the first time out. That’s cool to hear because you know he is invested in what he is doing.”

And Lugo is off to a good start this spring. He constantly watches his teammates throw bullpen sessions and live batting practice. In turn, he doesn’t mind offering advice where it’s needed.

“I’m always open to talking about pitching,” he said.

Lugo is also picking up a few new tricks. He has worked to refine his sweeper, changeup and cutter with the Royals.

“It’s important to be able to come up with new stuff and give hitters a different look, especially the guys you have been facing for 10-plus years,” he said. “It’s always nice to have a new weapon when you are facing familiar faces.”

Lugo threw his new cutter three times against the Cubs. He induced a popup, swing-and-miss and foul ball with the pitch.

He threw 16 of 27 pitches for strikes and worked in tandem with new Royals catcher Austin Nola. They were teammates with the Padres last season.

“It was fun,” Lugo said. “We work well together and it was a good outing between us both.”

The Royals signed Nola last week. He was released by the Milwaukee Brewers and will compete for a spot on the Royals’ 26-man roster.

Nola singled in his first at-bat of the spring, finishing Monday’s game 1-for-3 as the Royals beat the Cubs 6-0.

First baseman Nick Pratto hit a three-run homer to give KC an early lead. Royals catcher Carter Jensen added an RBI double.

It was the Royals’ second shutout victory this spring.

“You got to see that first ball go over the plate, you got to get your first out and you got to see one hit the grass, so you know you can do it,” Quatraro said of his team’s performance. “That’s something that everyone goes through every year.”

The Royals will play a split-squad game Tuesday. KC will face the Colorado Rockies at 2:05 p.m. Central Time at Surprise Stadium. Royals pitcher Daniel Lynch IV will get the start.

At about the same time (2:10 p.m. Central), another group of Royals will play the San Diego Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex. Michael Wacha is slated to make his first start for the Royals against his former team.