NEW YORK -- While the Royals appear to have found a solid eighth-inning setup man in Robinson Tejeda, pitching coach Bob McClure believes the right-hander might assume a more prominent role in the future.
"I think he could close one day," McClure said while the Royals prepared to wrap up a four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. McClure doesn't believe in placing limitations on players, especially those who've learned to compete successfully in the Major Leagues.
Tejeda, 28, who began his professional career in 1999 and broke into the Major Leagues in 2005, appears to have reached the fruit-bearing stage this season. After a rocky start during which he posted a 12.96 ERA through April 27, he has a miniscule 1.06 ERA over his past 35 innings pitched. Included in those impressive totals were two innings of shutout relief against the Yankees on Saturday.
"You've' gotta believe," the Dominican native said when asked about his recent success after Saturday's effort. "When you have an opportunity to do something good, you've gotta believe in yourself and believe in God and come in here and prove [yourself]. I believe in trying to do better every day, and when you collect a lot of good things, then you become successful.
"That's what I'm doing right now, trying to collect every opportunity I have and try to do a good job and try to be aggressive."
The Royals claimed Tejeda off waivers from Texas in 2008. The reliever, who has 53 starts in the Major Leagues with Philadelphia, Texas and the Royals, has finally learned the ins and outs of being a pitcher at the top level of the game and is making the best of his fastball, changeup and slider.
"It couldn't happen to a better young man," McClure said, adding that many pitchers start to reach a comfort level some time after starting 50 games in the big leagues. "He came here from a team that had kind of given up on him with the thought process and dedication to just get better. I'm hoping that never changes because he's a delight to work with and obviously he has made some improvements.
"He's one of those guys who has been in enough games that he knows his body and what he's capable of doing," McClure added. "And he's kind of more comfortable with what he can do instead of trying to do more than he can do. I think that's what happens when guys are able to slow the game down.
If McClure is a Tejeda backer, the pitcher is thankful for the way the pitching coach has handled him so far.
"He's not a pitching coach who likes to mess around," Tejeda said. "He's not a big talker, but when he talks to you and comes to us, we've got to listen. When you have a pitching coach like that there's no way you can do wrong. And even when you do wrong, he's coming to you the next day with an idea." McClure enjoyed hearing Tejeda's comment.
"And you know what," McClure said with a smile, "I go to him less and less and less, which has been wonderful."
Royals closer Joakim Soria said he has enjoyed watching Tejeda progress.
"He has been great all season and obviously a guy like that is going to help us a lot," Soria said. "I think his confidence is getting up and being around and all the guys has helped a lot."
Yost has outfield rotation plan
NEW YORK -- If one had to come up with a descriptive phrase for the current configuration of Kansas City's outfield, the title might be: "Men in Motion."
Manager Ned Yost, faced with the loss of starting right fielder David DeJesus to a serious thumb injury for at least 10 weeks, and the arrival of Rick Ankiel off the disabled list, needed a game plan.
"I want to start a rotation to work the outfielders and let them DH and take days [off] here and there," Yost explained.
DeJesus was injured on July 22; Ankiel, who had a quad injury, reunited with the team after it arrived in New York on Thursday, and the team called up former third baseman Alex Gordon from Triple-A to replace DeJesus.
The game plan: Scott Podsednik, one of the team's most reliable hitters, is the primary left fielder.
"Alex will move from right to left a little bit in the rotation," Yost said. Jose Guillen, perhaps Kansas City's best power source, will play mainly DH and see time in right field. Ankiel is the No. 1 in center.
"Mitch Maier will play them all, and he'll play center when we give Ankiel a break," Yost said.
And Willie Bloomquist?
"Willie depends on the pitcher," Yost said. "If it's a left-handed [opposing] pitcher he'll play in the outfield on given days. My plan is to play [infielder] Wilson Betemit five or six days and give him a break and Willie can play some third, and Chris Getz can play some third." So there they are, at least for now -- men in motion.
Veteran outfielder David DeJesus, who suffered a serious injury to his right thumb on July 21, is scheduled to undergo surgery at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday. He's expected to miss at least 10 weeks. ... While the Royals were 9-for-9 in their first nine steal attempts against the Yankees during the four-game series, the team's overall steal numbers haven't pleased manager Ned Yost. "Your running attack actually hurts you if you are stealing four of five," Yost said. The Royals had stolen 64 bases in 98 attempts entering Sunday. "Our numbers aren't quite at 75 percent, and that takes away from our scoring opportunities. You have to have the right people on base. You have to pick the right opportunity."
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.