Notes: Dessens solid in KC 'pen

Notes: Dessens solid in KC 'pen

NEW YORK -- It didn't take long after the first game at Yankee Stadium before Royals manager Buddy Bell underwent the dissection of the second-guess scalpel.

Fans were firing off e-mails. Radio talkers were squawking.

Reliever Elmer Dessens had reeled off two perfect innings on Tuesday. The Royals were ahead 7-4 -- until Andrew Sisco came along in the next inning and the Yankees had a five-run outburst to win, 9-7.

So why, after Dessens had made just 19 pitches, was he taken out of the game? Why didn't he pitch the eighth as well?

Bell was aware of the second-guess hounds yelping at his heels.

"Dessens is a two-inning guy that you can't use up," he explained. "He's not a three-inning guy."

Even using him for two innings on Tuesday more or less eliminated Dessens from Wednesday's 12-5 loss which, for a time, was just 6-5. Use a middle-inning guy for six or more outs and he needs to rest his arm to restore his effectiveness.

Sometimes it's not an easy call but one that a manager feels is necessary. Besides, in the Kansas City battle plan, it's Dessens in the middle followed by Sisco, a proven setup man last year, who goes an inning (if he can) and readies the table for closer Ambiorix Burgos.

At any rate, Dessens was available for Thursday's game but was not used. For the season, he's pitched six innings in four games without giving up a run.

At age 35, Dessens has this thing pretty well figured out.

"I just try to keep my sinker down and hit the corners so I can have a quality strike," he said. "The ball moves and sometimes I know where."

Pitching coach Bob McClure, trying to patch up other problems, can only marvel at one of his bright spots.

"He makes it look easy, doesn't he?" McClure said. "His ball moves real late so it doesn't move as much as some guys' that move earlier. But it's better that way. It's kind of [Greg] Maddux late."

Dessens looks around him at younger pitchers struggling, notably having trouble throwing strikes.

"The guys today are thinking about too much, who's next and that sort of thing, instead of just pitching," Dessens said.

They also might be too worried about whether it's Jeter or A-Rod or Giambi or whoever that might be sticking his spikes in the batter's box.

Dessens really doesn't care.

"It's almost like he's pitching like there's no hitter there," McClure said. "It's like, if I put it in my spot then I've got a pretty good chance of getting this guy out."

Pretty good way to look at it.

Can't hurt: First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz wandered about the clubhouse, dispensing incense from a swinging canister.

He even stopped by the coaches room and Bell's office to spread his blessings and, just maybe, change the Royals' luck.

Better be ready: After going without center fielder David DeJesus for five games now, Bell has a new strategy for Friday night's game at Tampa Bay.

"I'm just going to put him in the lineup. I'm not even going to ask him," Bell declared.

Actually Bell said he was joking -- sort of -- about DeJesus, who has a strained left hamstring. But with both DeJesus and Mike Sweeney out, his bench is thin.

"We haven't been able to use this team the way we intended," Bell said.

He hopes to have both Sweeney (bruised hand) and DeJesus in the lineup against the Devil Rays.

Sweeney didn't seem too confident about it.

"I tried swinging today and was at about 50 percent," he said. "I'll go out there and swing tomorrow and see what happens."

Meantime, before the 9-3 loss Thursday to the Yankees, Bell dusted off Esteban German to play third base and Tony Graffanino to be the designated hitter.

That worked pretty well. German had three hits with a double and an RBI and Graffanino pounded a home run.

Up next: The Royals move on to St. Petersburg. Fla., for a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays starting at 7:15 p.m. CT at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Scott Elarton (0-2, 3.29 ERA) is matched against Devil Rays lefty Scott Kazmir (1-1, 5.68 ERA). The Royals were 0-4 last year at the Trop.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.