DETROIT -- It took a long time for left-hander John Bale to get back, but he's certainly made his presence felt since re-joining the Royals.
Bale, who began the season in the rotation, was stopped after three starts by left shoulder fatigue. Then, apparently frustrated by his rehab progress, he punched a door and broke his pitching hand.
But, after five months on the disabled list, he's returned to pitch nine times and, with a perfect inning in Monday night's 6-2 win over the Tigers, has yet to be scored upon. He's pitched 10 1/3 shutout innings and given up just four hits.
"[He is] tremendously efficient. Since he's had an opportunity to come back -- because of what transpired earlier in the season and as remorseful as he was about the situation -- he's been on a mission and he's done a very good job," manager Trey Hillman said.
Bale's success has taken pressure off late-inning setup men like Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez, said Hillman. He doesn't see Bale as just a lefty specialist either.
"He's been so effective in his command and control in utilizing his changeup that you know that he's going to have some effectiveness against right-handers as well," Hillman said.
Bale seems to have found a permanent home in the bullpen.
"There's no doubt," Hillman said. "In hindsight now, we're all wiser. I don't think it's even going to be a consideration for us, moving forward, that we would try to put him back in a starting role."
There's no argument from Bale on that count.
"I think if I had a choice in it, I'd say the same. That's where I feel more comfortable and the role I'm best suited for," Bale said.
"There was a time when I did like starting better, but I just feel more comfortable and I think my arm rebounds better when I'm able to pitch every night. My velocity is better, my command is better. I just think overall that's the way the team will get the best out of me."
In his last five outings, Bale pitched a 1-2-3 inning each time.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.