Everett Teaford’s reaction upon learning he was heading to the big leagues for the first time underscored the reason for his popularity among minor-league teammates over his six-year career.
“Obviously, inside, I felt beside myself,” Teaford admitted. “But, really, (Greg) Holland could have come up. (Jesse) Chavez could have come up. They were both throwing the ball great.
“Holland threw three scoreless (Monday) night and dominated Chavez has been finishing games, and he’s been lights out. So, I just felt honored that I was the one selected when it could have been any of the three of us.”
Teaford is the only lefty among the three and he, too, has been pitching well: 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA in 10 games at Class AAA Omaha after leading the organization in victories last season while going a combined 14-4 for Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Omaha.
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“His fastball has been a plus pitch,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “His breaking ball has been very good. Same with his changeup. He’s been changing slots with his arm against left-handers. Our people felt that he was, by far, the best guy to come up.”
Teaford provides the Royals with a second left-hander in their seven-man bullpen.
“I think I’ll use Teaford more in conjunction with (Tim) Collins on left-on-left matchups,” manager Ned Yost said, “but he’s not a situational lefty. He gets righties out, too.
“I like having two lefties down there where I can use one in the sixth and one in the seventh or eighth to match up.”
Teaford made his debut Tuesday by replacing starter Sean O’Sullivan in the sixth inning of a 7-3 loss to Cleveland. Teaford retired the side on six pitches in his first inning before giving up a leadoff homer to Asdrubal Cabrera in the seventh.
“I was nervous,” he said. “I’m not going to lie. I had a good first inning. It was quick. Then I kind of just got out of rhythm. I didn’t make the adjustment as quickly as I need to make it.”
Teaford, 27, spent five-plus seasons in the minors following his selection by the Royals in the 12th round of the 2006 draft. He was a Carolina League all-star in 2008 and 2009 but didn’t really blossom as a prospect until last season.
That breakthrough convinced the Royals to protect Teaford on their 40-man roster prior to last November’s deadline, and he came to spring training with a chance to pitch his way into a bullpen job.
It couldn’t have gone much worse. Teaford allowed 11 runs and 14 hits in 4 1/3 innings over three appearances and was optioned to Omaha.
“When I got sent down,” he said, “it was like a monkey was lifted off my back. I had put way too much pressure on myself, tried to do way too much and thought way too far down the road – instead of thinking one batter at a time and one pitch at a time.
“Since then, I’ve been throwing the ball well. And that’s even with some of my outings in Triple-A being tough luck with a ball bouncing here or there. I’ve been throwing strikes and getting lefties out.”
Rookie Nate Adcock promises he “won’t change a thing” Saturday when he makes his first big-league start after opening his career by compiling a 2.16 ERA in eight relief appearances.
Even so, he isn’t kidding himself. This won’t be just another game. His start comes in the middle game of this weekend’s I-70 Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, which ensures a big crowd at Kauffman Stadium.
“The last time I started a game,” he said, “about 100 were there. It was a pretty hot day in the (Class A) Florida State League in September. I think it will be a little different this time. I’ll have family coming in, it will be great to share it with them.”
Yost said the Royals never considered anyone but Adcock – i.e., not Mike Montgomery or Jeff Suppan – in seeking someone to join lefty Danny Duffy in replacing injured Kyle Davies and Bruce Chen in the rotation.
“We want to give Nate Adcock a shot at it,” Yost said. “He throws strikes with a quality pitch. His secondary pitches aren’t quite as good, but he’s got a good changeup. He’s not afraid, and he competes. He’s done a nice job.”
Adcock will likely be limited to 60-65 pitches because he isn’t stretched out.
Reliever Robinson Tejeda returned to Kansas City for an examination on his right shoulder after making five rehab appearances at Omaha.
“I’ve been pitching,” he said, “and I’ve been feeling good. No issues. I’m just waiting to see what they want to do.”
The tentative plan is for Tejeda to return to Omaha to continue his rehab assignment. He has allowed five hits and one unearned run in six innings over his five outings. He also has six strikeouts and two walks.
The crowd at Kauffman Stadium observed a moment of silence prior to the game in memory of Harmon Killebrew, who concluded his 22-year career in 1975 by hitting 14 homers in 106 games for the Royals.
Killebrew died Monday at age 74 from esophageal cancer. He spent the first 21 years of his career with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins and was picked in 1969 as the American League’s Most Valuable Player.
Killebrew finished his career with 573 homers, which rank 11th in history, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. Minor details
The Royals made two minor-league pitching moves that got lost in the shuffle of the big-league personnel decisions:
Right-hander Zach Miner was activated from the disabled list and assigned to Class AA Northwest Arkansas. He was 25-20 with a 4.24 ERA for Detroit from 2006-09 before suffering an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Right-hander Jason Adam, a fifth-round pick last year from Blue Valley Northwest, was assigned to Class A Kane County and made his pro debut by giving up three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings at Cedar Rapids.
It was 35 years ago today – May 18, 1976 – that the Royals beat Texas 3-1 and moved past the Rangers into first place in the American League West Division. The Royals remained in first the rest of the way and won their first division title.
Etc. The Royals played their seventh straight game without making an error.
The Royals have been outscored 36-14 in the first inning in their 41 games.
Catcher Matt Treanor has 12 hits in his last 12 games and has raised his average from .119 to .243.