Davies, Tejeda struggle with control

Davies, Tejeda struggle with control

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Robinson Tejeda and Kyle Davies, vying for a spot in the Royals' rotation, squared off again on Tuesday. In the end, there was no clear winner.

Just after manager Trey Hillman preached to the media about the importance of having "strike throwers" on the pitching staff, Tejeda had trouble finding the plate. He walked three Oakland batters in his two innings, made a wild pitch and surrendered five runs -- two on Jack Cust's thunderous homer.

And after two scoreless innings, Davies was charged with three runs in the fifth. He had his own problems with control, as he gave up five hits and walked two.

"Even though he had good results in his first two innings, he still didn't command his fastball," Hillman said.

And that's what is so troubling to Hillman.

"We don't have enough guys commanding their fastball," he said. "We have had four or maybe five guys who have gone out and commanded their fastball -- Banny [Brian Bannister], Zack [Greinke], [Anthony] Lerew, [Roman] Colon in his first outing, and that's about it."

It was a cool, wet and very windy day at Surprise Stadium as the Royals pulled out an 11-10 victory over the A's, but, as Tejeda put it, the elements were no excuse.

"I learned you've really got to be very positive in the game, no matter what the weather is," Tejeda said.

In their two Cactus League outings so far, Tejeda has a 15.75 ERA in four innings and Davies has a 12.60 ERA in five innings. Davies has walked three batters, Tejeda five.

"This is nothing new for me," Tejeda said. "I've been walking people for my whole career. I'm not going to let this get to me, I'm just going to think positive next time and try not to walk anybody."

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Same thing for Davies.

"I've got to work on getting better at not falling behind so much," he said. "I fell behind on three, four or five guys. I was 3-0 on two guys, and that can't happen after almost a hundred starts in the big leagues."

Because of his starting history with the Braves and the Royals, Davies has the advantage over Tejeda in number of Major League starts with 99. But Tejeda, before coming to the Royals, was primarily a starter for the Phillies and Rangers and has 53 on his resume.

Davies' primary drawback has been struggling with throwing effective strikes with his fastball.

"Last year, I had a really bad stretch in the middle of the year," he said. "But I was good at the beginning and good at the end. It was all about consistency and command for me, that's all it is. It's never been about stuff. If I had Greinke's command, I'd have his stats."

Or, Davies added, at least something closer to what Greinke has attained. Hillman concedes that Davies certainly has his strong points.

"He's got great stuff, he typically holds his stuff very well," Hillman said. "But it's a matter of being more consistent in the strike zone. Kyle's really competitive -- it doesn't have anything to do with his competitiveness or have anything to do with stamina or stuff. He holds up very well. Once he gets over the 100-pitch mark, he can hold his stuff. It's just a matter of whether or not he can locate it."

So far Hillman has confirmed only that Greinke will start on Opening Day against the Tigers and Gil Meche will start the second game.

"Rotation? We're not even close. It's too early to say," Hillman said. "But we keep emphasizing the need to have strike-throwers."

Bannister had grabbed the manager's attention as he returns from late-season shoulder fatigue.

"Banny's been good, so I'd say that's a plus in favor for him, in addition to his health being good," Hillman said.

But there are still Luke Hochevar, who hasn't yet been tested in a Cactus League game, and Kyle Farnsworth, who was knocked around in his debut, along with Davies and Tejeda.

The jury is still out but Hillman knows one important piece of evidence that can determine a verdict.

"It's not a lot of fun watching guys who are trying to make the Major League club not command the fastball," he said.

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