KC@TB: Mendoza tweaks knee covering first base

ST. PETERSBURG -- Royals starter Luis Mendoza's left knee tends to get a little achy, but it's not expected to keep the right-hander from making his next start.

"He's probably going to make his next five starts," manager Ned Yost said, "so, just go ahead and write that in."

Mendoza set off some alarms in the second inning of his 7-2 win over the Rays on Friday night, limping as he covered first base on the first out. He stayed in the game and pitched into the seventh inning, but Mendoza was treated for a lengthy period in the training room afterward.

"They just treated me as a precaution," Mendoza said. "My last start, it was swollen a little bit, but it's nothing serious. They're just icing it and treating it."

Mendoza's knee was banged by the sliding Mike Trout of the Angels in the third inning on May 24 at Kauffman Stadium. The pitcher was covering home plate as catcher Salvador Perez recovered a wild pitch.

Fortunately, as a pitcher, Mendoza isn't required to do much running.

"No," Yost said, "but I do need him to throw strikes and it is on his landing leg, so when he starts the first inning and he's behind everybody, the natural progression in your mind is, 'Is his knee all right?' But, he settled down nicely after that."

Mendoza said the knee doesn't bother him when he pitches and is "100 percent good."

In his five starts with the banged-up knee, Mendoza has given up just seven runs in 28 innings (2.25 ERA).

"I watch it, I keep an eye on it," Yost said. "It gets a little sore after he pitches, but when he comes around again, he doesn't feel a thing. Which is good and that's what happens with a lot of these guys. They pitch and they're a little sore."

As the fifth starter, Mendoza missed some starts early in the season, but since going on regular rest in his last seven outings, he's 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA.

Royals improving on mental approach at plate

KC@TB: Hosmer hammers solo homer to left-center

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Royals' offense has started showing more life recently since the installation of George Brett and Pedro Grifol as the new hitting coaches.

Two of the greatest concerns were third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer.

"The biggest change we've made hasn't been mechanical, it's been mental," manager Ned Yost said. "And Moose is getting there, he's come a long way in terms of relaxing, but he's such a high-intensity guy, it's hard to keep him relaxed. He wants to do so good that keeping him slowed down is tough. But Hoz and the rest of the guys are slowing things down and starting to have some success."

Right fielder Jeff Francoeur is struggling (13 for his last 82, .159) to the point that he's been sharing right field with left-handed-hitting David Lough. But Yost sees Francoeur making progress, too.

"Frenchy, in batting practice and early hitting and cage work, looks a lot better. It just hasn't transitioned to the game," Yost said.

Seventh-round pick among KC Draft signings

ST. PETERSBURG -- Sign 'em up.

Four more selections in last week's First-Year Player Draft have agreed to terms with the Royals.

They are: Seventh-round pick Kyle Bartsch, left-handed pitcher from the University of South Florida; 10th-round pick Alex Newman, outfielder from Cypress College; 11th-rounder Xavier Fernandez, catcher from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, and 27th-rounder Christian Flecha, left-handed pitcher from Caguas Military Academy.

The Royals have signed 26 of their 41 selections.