Bullpen rounding into form under Yost

Bullpen rounding into form under Yost

KANSAS CITY -- It was quite a week for the Royals' bullpen -- just one earned run in 14 2/3 innings of work in six Interleague games against Washington and St. Louis.

The only run was a home run by the Cardinals' Colby Rasmus in the ninth inning on Sunday against Blake Wood.

Under manager Ned Yost, the bullpen has settled into roles -- Kyle Farnsworth, Victor Marte and Kanekoa Texeira in the middle innings; Dusty Hughes as the versatile left-hander; Robinson Tejeda in the seventh inning; Blake Wood in the eighth; and Joakim Soria in the ninth.

"I think it helps that everybody has a role and knows what portion of the game they're going to be used in, or thinking about being used in, and it helps everybody get mentally prepared," Yost said.

Or, as rookie Wood put it: "You know as much as you can for a baseball game and that helps a lot."

As Yost noted, it's worked out very well.

"It's kind of difficult when you don't know what situation you're going to pitch in, or what inning, but when you have an idea of what kind of a job you have, it's better because we can prepare ourselves for that situation," Tejeda said.

During six games last week, the team had a 3-3 record and opponents hit just .163 off the relief corps, which posted a 0.61 ERA with 11 strikeouts, three walks and eight hits allowed during 14 2/3 innings. One drawback was finding enough situations in which to use Soria, who pitched just twice and earned two saves.

But Soria finds ways to stay sharp.

"I prepare myself during those days and get my work in," Soria said. "I try to be focused, and I don't feel like it bothers me at all."

Wood relishes his eighth-inning role.

"I feel if I do my job, the game's over, because then Soria comes in, and he does his job every time," Wood said.

Yost again pointed out that a change in the relievers' preparation for games -- basically, throwing off the mound each day instead of flat ground -- has been a tremendous help. It's something that the Braves always did when Yost was a coach in Atlanta.

"Look what it's done for [Tejeda]. He comes in and bangs nothing but strikes now," Yost said. "Farnsworth [is] the same way. And when you're filling up the strike zone with that kind of stuff, you're going to be successful."

It's hit a responsive chord with the relievers.

"Once that phone rings, we're ready for the situation," Tejeda said.

Yost was asked if he'd gotten any feedback from the pitchers.

"The feedback is right on the mound. When they come and bang strikes, that's all the feedback I need," Yost said.