KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who replaced injured Greg Holland in the Royals' bullpen, feels he's matured as a pitcher since he was last with the Kansas City club a year ago.
"I've gotten more mature and I've changed my mechanics but it's all about maturity in the mind. It's all about going after hitters and not backing down," Jeffress said.
Commanding his blazing fastball has been an ongoing challenge for Jeffress, and too many bases on balls led to his problems last year with the Royals and after he was sent to the Minors.
But Jeffress has improved his control, he's also added a slider to his fastball, curve and changeup, and then there's that new outlook.
"Maturing pitching-wise, developing that state of mind of just going after hitters, pitching inside. You pitch inside you might throw a ball as well but just going inside, pounding the zone and keeping the ball down -- that's what I've been doing lately," Jeffress said.
He's doing more thinking and not just out there throwing hard, he said. But have the changes taken anything off his fastball?
"I don't think I've lost any velocity," he said. "It has a tendency to sink and the movement is better, even if it's not as hard."
Jeffress saw his first action since being recalled from Triple-A Omaha in Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays and took a hard shot off his pitching arm in the ninth inning. The ball ricocheted to third baseman Mike Moustakas who threw out batter Jose Bautista.
After taking some throws to test his arm, Jeffress stayed in the game, but gave up a double and a walk, and was relieved by Aaron Crow.
Holland does not have stress fracture in ribs
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals got good news on Sunday regarding pitcher Greg Holland's bone scan on his ribs.
"He's clear, it was clear," manager Ned Yost said. "So it's the stress reaction -- I don't know all these scientific words, for me it's a bone bruise. There's not a stress fracture there, which is good news because that would've taken longer, so this is going to be a lot quicker process."
Yost said that Holland will be shut down for five days, then go back on a throwing program, but it might be three weeks before he can get back to pitching.
Holland was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday after an MRI revealed the rib stress reaction.
Yost pleased with Quintero-Pena combo
KANSAS CITY -- With catcher Salvador Perez out for perhaps half the season, the Royals are going with a Humberto Quintero-Brayan Pena combination behind the plate and manager Ned Yost likes the way it's working out.
Quintero has been catching three starters -- Danny Duffy, Jonathan Sanchez and Luke Hochevar -- and Pena has been working with the other two, Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza.
"The reason I like that is, when you've got an everyday catcher, you've got a chance to build some rapport with your pitcher from time to time to time," Yost said.
"If you've got two guys that are going to catch I think it's more important to put them with the [same] guys so they develop that relationship. They know what worked last time, they know what didn't work and they start to think with them and it just makes it easier."
Quintero, acquired from the Astros late in Spring Training, is getting used to his new surroundings and to his part-time schedule.
"I've done it before when I played two, three or four times a week. Sometimes I played every day, so I'm available to do everything," Quintero said. "I feel comfortable right now."
Pena, a switch hitter, has a good reputation with a bat so his .304 (7-for-23) average isn't unexpected. But Quintero, known more for his defense, went into Sunday's game against the Blue Jays with a .320 (8-for-25) mark that included four doubles and three RBIs.
"He's been pretty impressive with the bat so far, he's been a bit of a surprise," Yost said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.