Yost enjoying new rotation of his pitchers
Royals manager adjusting relief strategy with starting staff's success
KANSAS CITY -- Who says an old manager can't be taught new tricks?
Ned Yost's new starting rotation is teaching him something almost every day. In the Royals' first 22 games, his starters have gone six or more innings 17 times. In eight of those games, the pitcher has logged at least seven innings, and four times he's gone at least eight innings.
That translates to a lot of no action on the bullpen mound, something that was rare in recent seasons.
"It's a whole new learning process for me," Yost said. "Last year, you get past the fifth and you start looking at matchups [opposition batters against your relief pitchers]. Now with these guys, you let 'em go. You don't worry about matchups unless they're just getting absolutely hammered or until the 90- or 100-pitch mark."
On Saturday night, Yost was fully prepared to send Ervin Santana out for the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead over the Indians -- until the Royals spent so much time getting a third run in their half of the seventh.
"Last year, we probably wouldn't have let our pitcher go out with 97 pitches," Yost said. "Santana was going back out easy. You've got to let those guys do their job. They're good. You want to make sure that you maximize their effectiveness on a given night."
But after an inning in which the Indians made four pitching changes and a lot of pitches were thrown, Yost changed his mind. The inning took so long that Santana went into the cages behind the dugout to throw in an attempt to stay loose. Then, a couple more batters came up and Yost decided to bring in Kelvin Herrera for the eighth.
But Yost is enjoying his new approach with his durable starters. This was his thinking on Santana after six innings of Saturday night's 3-2 win:
"In the seventh, I'm sending him out and he's not coming out of that game unless he gives up the lead," Yost said. "I mean, he's throwing good, his pitch count was really good and I wasn't going to go get him.
"In the eighth, it's a different story. I'm not going to put him in a position to lose the game in the eighth inning. I was going to let him go out but, if two guys got on, I was going to bring in Herrera."
Santana makes strong impression on Tribe
KANSAS CITY -- Ervin Santana, with a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA in his five starts for Kansas City, earned compliments from the Indians after he shut them out for seven innings on Saturday night.
"He was throwing his offspeed for strikes. We had pitches to hit, we just didn't do it," Indians first baseman Mark Reynolds said. "I think a lot of guys were frustrated in the dugout. We were kind of rolling over pitches, and I think everybody was trying to do too much instead of just taking a single or whatever and getting on base."
Reynolds added: "He just mixed it up really well. Every time I was sitting heater, he threw me a slider, and vice versa. Obviously, with two strikes you have to adjust. He was just mixing it up. Getting ahead with his offspeed, I think was a big thing for him."
Tribe manager Terry Francona had this to say: "Unfortunately, I think I've seen him good more than I haven't. His arm is tremendous. When you have to respect him in the strike zone, you can't eliminate any pitches. That's when he becomes very effective."
Santana has been in the zone; he hasn't walked a batter in his last two starts and has 31 strikeouts against six walks in his 36 innings so far.
Santana's April success is a complete turnaround from his first month last year with the Angels. In April 2012, he went 0-5 with a 6.16 ERA.
Cain gets breather in opener of twin bill
KANSAS CITY -- Center fielder Lorenzo Cain played all 19 innings in last Sunday's doubleheader at Boston, but Royals manager Ned Yost decided against a repeat in this Sunday's day-night affair against Cleveland.
Jarrod Dyson started in center field in Sunday's first game, while Cain sat out against Indians right-hander Justin Masterson. Dyson bats left-handed, Cain right-handed.
"Even though we've had so many off-days, [Cain's] doing great with his legs," Yost said. "Last year, he had so many problems with his legs and this year he's in such a good spot. He worked real hard on conditioning his legs and his stretching all winter long."
Dyson did his part, getting two hits and two RBIs in the 9-0 first game victory. Cain started the nightcap.
Duffy, Paulino progressing well in rehab stints
KANSAS CITY -- Pitchers Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy are doing well in their rehabilitation assignments at Surprise, Ariz. Both underwent Tommy John surgery last season.
"They're doing fine. I think both of them threw [Saturday]," manager Ned Yost said. "Duffy threw 20 pitches in a game and Paulino threw like 25 pitches in BP with good results. They're fine."
Both are aiming for Minor League pitching assignments in the next month or two.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.