Tejeda improving with experience

Tejeda improving with experience

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."