MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Robinson Tejeda, with his fastball velocity down, will be eased out of the setup role in the Royals' bullpen for now.
"I'll back him off some until he gets his velocity back," manager Ned Yost said.
Tejeda, whose fastball used to be clocked in the mid 90s, missed most of last August with what was termed a right biceps tendon strain. His pitches on Tuesday night, in which all four Twins batters reached base and the Royals lost, 4-3, in the 10th inning, registered in the high 80s and low 90s.
"His throwing program changed a little bit in the winter, coming off some shoulder problems last year they rested him a little bit," Yost said before Wednesday's game. "He didn't do quite as much long toss. We talked to Robby today and he's got no answers for it. Nobody does. He's fine, he feels good, he's just dropped 6 miles per hour off his fastball and we've got to find a way to get that 6 mph back."
For now, Yost plans to use his young pitchers, including right-handers Aaron Crow, Jeremy Jeffress and Kanekoa Texeira, and left-hander Tim Collins in late-inning situations.
"We're not even two weeks into the season and I haven't set defined roles but, yeah, Collins has been throwing good, Crow's been outstanding, and Jeffress will be in more of those situations," Yost said. "Texeira has been solid all year except for one outing, so we're fine."
Yost stayed with Tejeda despite the diminished velocity through his first seven appearances. But, after Tuesday night's loss, his ERA had risen to 5.06 and opponents were hitting .417 against him.
"As a guy who's been a mainstay in your bullpen, you still have to give him the opportunity to fail," Yost said. "Even though you're concerned with the velocity, if he's getting guys out, you maintain his role until something like that happens, and then you have to make adjustments."
Tejeda and closer Joakim Soria were the only two bullpen pitchers assured of jobs when Spring Training began.
"I have no doubt that Robby will get his velocity back," Yost said. "He just has to get it back."
Collins tastes first success against lefties
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tim Collins, the only left-hander in the Royals' bullpen, accomplished something different in Tuesday night's game against the Twins. He finally got a left-handed batter out.
Previously he'd faced five left-handed batters and had given up two hits and three walks. Never mind that. Manager Ned Yost brought him out of the bullpen in the series opener to face pinch hitter Jim Thome, one of the most feared left-handed hitters in the game. Collins threw a high changeup on a 3-2 count and, boom, Thome singled, making lefties 6-for-6 in plate appearances against the rookie.
"I don't keep count, but I know in my head that I have to get the job done against lefties, so it felt good to get [Justin] Morneau out," Collins said.
Not only Morneau, who struck out in the 10th. After Thome's single in the ninth, Collins retired lefty batters Denard Span and Joe Mauer on long fly balls. So that was three straight outs of lefties.
"It's good that they still have confidence in me that I can get lefties out," Collins said. "Eventually I'm going to get them out."
The Royals' Jeff Francoeur recalled a conversation he had with Thome on Wednesday.
"I was talking to [Jim] Thome before the game today and he was just bragging about Tim Collins. He said, 'Boy, he came in and threw strikes, went after 'em and had some good stuff,'" Francoeur said. "To have a guy like that say that about a rookie is about the highest compliment you can get."
Francoeur impressing Yost with his defense
MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur couldn't hang on to Jason Kubel's long drive in the 10th inning of Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Twins. But in manager Ned Yost's view, it was amazing that he even got to the ball.
"Even though he didn't catch that ball, he still gave us the opportunity to win the game by getting to it, picking up the ball and getting it back in quick," Yost said. "That was a phenomenal play in itself, although he didn't make the play. Last year we wouldn't even have come close to it and we'd have been in the dugout. But we're still out there playing because of plays like that."
Earlier, in the fourth inning, Francoeur raced into the right-field corner to grab Kubel's double. He got the ball into the infield so quickly that Michael Cuddyer couldn't score and had to stop at third base.
"Oh, man, that play he made on Kubel's ball down the line, to get over there, get the ball and get it in was a phenomenal play," Yost said.
Francoeur, in the fifth inning, raced to catch Justin Morenau's line drive and threw to first base to easily double up Joe Mauer. That was Francoeur's second assist this season and the 83rd in his career -- the most by any Major League outfielder since his rookie season with the Braves in 2005. Next in that span are the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano, 64, and the Orioles' Nick Markakis, 59.
"You can see he's a Gold Glove caliber right fielder," Yost said.
Royals ship Minor Leaguer Marte to Cards
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Royals have traded Minor League pitcher Victor Marte to the St. Louis Cardinals for future considerations.
Marte, 30, was on the Triple-A Omaha roster but had not pitched for the Storm Chasers this season. Last year, Marte appeared in 22 games for the Royals and had a 3-0 record but a 9.76 ERA. He also had a 4-1 mark and a 3.32 ERA in 25 relief appearances for Omaha.
He had been in the Royals' organization since 2009 after returning from three years in Japan.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.