3/31/2014 7:10 P.M. ET
Royals prepping for Tigers' new speed game
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The word around Detroit is that the 2014 Tigers are switching to speed and athleticism as opposed to the old power and mayhem in their offense.
"That's fine," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I'm ready for any team to run on us. We've got one of the best throwing catchers in baseball [Salvador Perez] and all of our pitchers do a great job of slide-stepping and controlling the running game."
The Tigers stole all of 35 bases last year, last in the American League, while the Royals had a league-high 153.
"They didn't have to steal a lot of bases last year because they had some pretty efficient run-producers," Yost said.
The Royals skipper, of course, keeps track of the offseason movements of his rivals.
"Was I glad they got rid of Prince Fielder? Yeah, I was glad about that, but their pitching is very good," Yost said. "They lost a good one in [pitcher Bruce] Rondon, a pretty solid guy, like we lost a good one in Hoch."
Both Rondon and Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar are on the disabled list.
And the Tigers lost a crucial player when shortstop Jose Iglesias went on the DL with stress fractures of the legs.
"Yeah, you look at that and you say, 'That kid's a pretty slick shortstop.' And then you think to yourself: OK, what would that mean to us -- if we lost [Alcides] Escobar it'd be a huge blow," Yost said. "As a team that competes against them, you don't want to see anybody get hurt, but it helps us a little bit."
The Tigers also added Joe Nathan to be the closer, a shaky spot for them in recent years.
"He's a guy with great experience and that counts for a lot," Yost said.
Salvy's four-hit game rates in Royals openers
DETROIT -- Salvador Perez's 4-for-4 performance in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Tigers tied a Royals record for most hits on Opening Day.
The catcher started out with two doubles, one of them a 400-foot shot to the base of the center-field wall, and then had two singles.
Perez became just the fourth Royals player to have four hits on Opening Day. He's the first since Fred Patek in 1979. The others were Amos Otis in 1977 and Lou Piniella in 1969, the first opener.
His first three hits came against Tigers starter Justin Verlander and the ace right-hander causes no fear for Perez. In his career, Perez is 11-for-24 (.458) against him.
"He's going to make a mistake like anybody else so if he gives you a pitch, you've got to hit it. If you miss that, you're in trouble," Perez said.
Perez was more concerned about the wild pitch from Aaron Crow that he couldn't block on a strikeout, allowing a Tigers run to score in the seventh inning.
"It got in the dirt. I tried to block or catch the ball," Perez said. "I think it was harder because I had to go to my left side. It's easier to go to the right side."
Royals manager Ned Yost agreed that it was a difficult pitch for Perez to handle.
"It was a slider that was supposed to be down-and-away. It backed up and Salvy couldn't get a handle on it, and it went back to the screen," Yost said.
Royals starters facing early 100-pitch count
DETROIT -- Don't expect Royals starting pitchers to go much above 100 pitches, if that many, early in the season.
"The first three or four starts, once they get to the 100-pitch mark, they're about done," manager Ned Yost said. "Once we get into it, you extend 'em out to about 115. I'll probably never go much over 125.
"I start to get -- I don't know if nervous is the right word -- but I start to get very cautious once you get to 115, 125, depending on how they're doing. But the first three or four starts when they get between that 100 and 105 mark -- bam!"
That said, keep in mind that Yost is going with 11 pitchers and just six relievers instead of the seven he'd planned on to start the season, so he'll get as much as he reasonably can from his starters.
"You're going with an 11-man staff so you're going to try to milk everything you can out of your starters, but we'll just play it by ear and see where we go," he said.
In Monday's opening 4-3 loss to the Tigers, Yost pulled starter James Shields in the seventh inning after 105 pitches.
Yost managing Infante's time, reserves' roles
DETROIT -- Although second baseman Omar Infante is starting the season with a Spring Training history of shoulder and elbow ailments in his throwing arm, manager Ned Yost has no immediate plans to give him down time.
"He's always going to have the bone spur [in the elbow]. The bone spur causes the inflammation. The inflammation is what heals," Yost said. "He's had it [before]. It just never got to the point where it inflamed anything until this spring."
It's nothing serious in Yost's view.
"It's the equivalent of a headache, it comes and it goes," he said. "It's not fun when it hurts, but you still manage through it, for the most part."
So any time off for Infante coming up?
"We'll see how he feels but right now, no, I think he's going to be fine," Yost said. "We've got four off-days built into this month."
Those off-days pose a challenge, too, as Yost tries to give his bench players some playing time while keeping his regulars sharp as well.
"The biggest problem that you foresee, especially when you start the season, is how do you get [Jarrod] Dyson, [Justin] Maxwell and [Danny] Valencia at-bats," he said. "So you try to take every opportunity to do that."
Valencia was brought on board partly to provide a right-handed alternative to left-handed-swinging Mike Moustakas, who's struggled against left-handed pitching. So it's possible Valencia might draw a game against lefties early on.
"It's not because I don't think Moose can't hit a tough lefty. It's more trying to keep Danny sharp than it is worrying about Moose hitting against a lefty," Yost said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.