Royals

Jakob Junis focuses on improving his change-up during Royals’ 5-4 loss to Rangers

Ned Yost says Royals P Jakob Junis needs to keep making adjustments

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost expects pitcher Jakob Junis to continue to make adjustments as hitters also adjust to his pitches in the upcoming season.
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Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost expects pitcher Jakob Junis to continue to make adjustments as hitters also adjust to his pitches in the upcoming season.

A goal for Royals right-hander Jakob Junis is to leave Arizona with a change-up he can readily use.

Last season, Junis threw his slider 40 percent of the time, followed by a four-seam fastball (33.3 percent) and sinker (20 percent), according to data from Baseball by Brooks. Junis relied on his change-up just 6 percent of the time, but he hopes to increase the usage this season.

That, of course, means Junis is relying on it more in spring-training games. That was case in the Royals’ 5-4 loss Thursday to the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Junis allowed five runs on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

“I threw a lot of change-ups that normally maybe I would throw some sliders, but I want to get that change-up down and want that to be a pitch that in those situations during the real season that I can throw it,” Junis said. “So I’m going to keep working on it and hopefully I can bottle some of the good ones and take that into the season for me.”

One of the bad ones was hit by designated hitter Danny Santana over the wall in right field for a two-run homer with two outs in the fourth inning that gave Texas a 4-2 lead. The Rangers never relinquished the advantage.

“Going into the fifth inning is good. Getting 77 pitches under my belt, so building up, that’s good,” Junis said. “One pitch I really wish I could get back is the home run. ... I threw a change-up and it just cut right over the middle of the plate and he smashed it. The change-up is a work in progress. I threw some good ones and I threw some bad ones. Hopefully it gets better.”

Mondesi shaken up: Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi stole third base in the fifth inning, was shaken up and left the game.

“He kind of slid in and he just had a little tiny cut (above his eye),” manager Ned Yost said. “I mean little. Just one little drop. I was taking him out anyway.”

Relief work: Relief pitcher Brad Boxberger had his first scoreless outing of the spring. He gave up a hit and struck out two in one inning. ... Richard Lovelady allowed one hit, walked a batter and struck out three in two scoreless innings. ... Wily Peralta relieved Junis and pitched a hitless inning, issuing a walk and striking out one.

Up next: The Royals travel to Salt River Fields to face the Colorado Rockies at 3:10 p.m. Friday. Jorge Lopez will get the start for the Royals and Kyle Zimmer is expected to pitch as well.

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.


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