04/14/12 7:00 PM ET
Teaford likely candidate to fill rotation spot
By Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber / MLB.com
That was the main focus of Royals players and manager Ned Yost when discussing the starting right-hander, who took a line drive off his left ankle during Friday's game against Cleveland. The official diagnosis is a left medial ankle contusion.
"I was a little surprised when they came up and said his leg wasn't broken," Yost said on Saturday.
Yost said he didn't know whether or not Hochevar would make his next start, but if he can't, the Royals have a prime candidate in reliever Everett Teaford.
Teaford relieved Hochevar on Friday, tossing four shutout innings.
"That was great," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "For him, he hadn't pitched yet. Obviously, he came in and did a great job. It's perfect. I think that gives Ned a lot of confidence. If he does have to make the next start for Hoch, he can. We all said in Spring Training how great he pitched. We felt very confident with him on the mound, and I think it showed [Friday]."
Yost had more to say about Teaford's performance before Saturday's game.
"When you have that long guy, he can't come in and blow up," Yost said. "If he blows up, then you're using the rest of your 'pen, and that's what you're trying to stay away from. That's why it was really significant [Friday] that Teaford came in and did what he did. He enabled us to get through that game without blowing up the bullpen, so that we're completely healthy [Saturday]."
Yost added that Teaford already has what it takes to be a big league starter. Good thing, because Teaford might be called into action soon.
Gordon getting things going on offensive end
KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon went from slumping to streaking, and it only took him three days.
After a well-documented sluggish start to the season, the Royals outfielder has reached base three times and picked up two hits in back-to-back games.
On Wednesday in Oakland, Gordon collected his first hit of the season, belted a home run, walked and drove in a pair of runs, breaking out of a slump that saw him hitless through the season's first five games.
He continued on Friday in the Royals' home opener against Cleveland -- going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI on the same day he was awarded his 2011 Gold Glove Award.
Gordon's teammates said it was all about getting that first hit.
"He had a rough start," designated hitter Billy Butler said before Saturday's game. "He was pressing a little bit. After he got that first one, he's started to have good at-bats."
Outfielder Jeff Francoeur said he's never considered the small sample size of five games a slow start.
"Almost every person, at some point, is going to go 0-for-12, 0-for-13 during the year," Francoeur said. "It just gets magnified [at the start of the season]. For him, the way he handled it was great. ... You could just tell [Friday] he was a lot more comfortable at the plate."
That's the benefit of slumping early in the season. Between Wednesday morning and Saturday afternoon, Gordon raised his average 160 points.
That's not a bad three days.
Francoeur taking his hacks in No. 2 spot
KANSAS CITY -- Jeff Francoeur is getting his first taste of batting in the two-hole in a Major League lineup and he kind of likes the idea.
"I mean, I just want to hit wherever you're at," Francoeur said.
He was moved up when Lorenzo Cain went on the Royals' disabled list and a right-handed hitter was needed to bat between left-handers Jarrod Dyson and Eric Hosmer. Francoeur is more of a slugger type, not normally expected to slap a ball behind the runner.
"I think I can do that when you need to," he said.
How about those sacrifice bunts?
"I don't think I've had any. Maybe early in my career," Francoeur said.
Actually, Francoeur had one sacrifice hit, in 2009 for Atlanta.
"His game has evolved now where he can do those things where he couldn't before," manager Ned Yost said.
It was another Opening Day loss for the Royals, who now have a 21-23 record in home openers and a 19-21 record in home openers at Kauffman Stadium.
An attendance of 40,230 was on-hand for Friday's game, the largest crowd since The K was renovated in 2009.
The Indians scored more runs (seven) in the first inning Friday than they had in any single game to that point in 2012.
Luke Hochevar's injury-shortened outing Friday was the shortest since July of 2011, when the right-hander lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the Tigers.
Royals manager Ned Yost on the striking sea of blue gear worn by the sellout crowd at Kauffman Stadium Friday on Opening Day: "There was more blue in the crowd when I looked up there. It was beautiful."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.