Returning to the bullpen wasnt Bruce Chens first choice.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Hes been a starter for the majority of his 15-year big-league career, including the last four seasons with the Royals.
Chen has made 91 starts in his career in Kansas City and roughly 85 percent of his 1,3601/3 career innings have come as a starter.
Still, Chen didnt pout after losing the battle for the No. 5 spot in the Royals rotation to Luis Mendoza, who will get the ball Friday in the series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.
I felt like I could have started, but its not my decision and its over with, Chen said. They made their decision. Im not going to dwell on that.
Instead, he embraced the role as the clubs primary long reliever, picking up the win with a perfect fifth inning April 5 in Philadelphia and working three scoreless innings Wednesday in relief of Wade Davis.
Everything is a challenge and I take it as a challenge, Chen said. Im not going to go and make any excuses or say, Well, Im not used to this or I havent done this in the past. Im trying to do everything I can to help this team win. Were on a roll and were playing really well. I want to be a part of it.
Dont think Chens sacrifice in putting the team ahead of his own desires has gone unnoticed.
Bruce is one of the best guys in this game and his willingness to accept a new role speaks volumes about the character that he has as a person, third baseman Mike Moustakas said. Hes such a team player and such a good pitcher. Hes proven he can handle it already, and we look for that from him. Hes one of our veteran guys in here and goes out and does his job to the best of his ability every night.
Getting more from the starters
Its a small sample size, but through nine games the Royals rotation already is averaging an inning more per outing.
Yost only got 890 innings with a robust 5.01 ERA from his starters in 2012, which was the fewest innings Royals starters amassed since 2007.
This years goal is to get more than 1,000 innings from the rotation, which hasnt happened since 1997 when Kevin Appier, Tim Belcher and Jose Rosado each topped 200 innings.
Its different this year, Yost said after Mondays home opener. We had a different philosophy last year. We had a tremendous bullpen and our philosophy was to try to get through five last year and then use the pen. This year, were going to ride these guys a little bit, because they are experienced and know how to go deep into games.
Through nine games, Royals starters have logged 532/3 innings compared to 442/3 innings through nine games last season.
Herrera picks up surprise save
Nobody was more shocked than Kelvin Herrera when he got the call to close out Wednesdays 3-0 win against the Twins.
Before the game, Yost told reporters he wasnt going to use closer Greg Holland, who had labored through a 27-pitch ninth inning Tuesday and escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Joe Mauer in a 7-4 win.
I didnt know that, but I was ready, said Herrera, who has struck out 10 of 16 batters hes faced this season.
Yost reiterated after the game that Holland remains the closer, but Herrera said hes also fine picking up the slack on occasion when Holland is overworked or underperforming.
I like closing games, but I just want to do my job whatever they need me to do, Herrera said. But its fun to close games real fun.
Royals rake in ratings record
The Royals sweep of the Twins this week is the highest-rated series in club history on Fox Sports Kansas City, drawing an average household rating of 6.9, according to Nielsen Media Research.
A 3-0 win Wednesday drew a 7.3 rating, which was the second-highest all-time, bumping Tuesdays 7-4 win to third place (7.2). The home opener on Monday also was the highest-rated home opener on the cable channel.
The highest single game audience in Fox Sports Kansas City history, which has broadcast games from 1997-2002 and 2008-2013, remains a 7.5 rating for the May 6, 2009, game against the Seattle.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.