The long-awaited pro debut of outfielder Bubba Starling, Kansas City's first-round draft pick of 2011, came on Thursday night for the Rookie Royals of Burlington, N.C. He missed the first nine games because of a hamstring injury.
Starling played center field, batted third and went 0-for-5 with a walk and one run in the Royals' 14-2 loss to the Cardinals at Johnson City, Tenn.
Starling, who's from the Kansas City area, signed a $7.5 million deal last year too late to play last summer. He prepared for his debut in extended Spring Training at Surprise, Ariz.
Catcher Cam Gallagher, who was the Royals' second-round pick in 2011, returned from a hand bruise in the same game and went 2-for-6. Gallagher had played in five games and was 4-for-18 (.222) prior to his injury. He broke in last year with Rookie teams at Surprise and Idaho Falls.