CLEVELAND -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza, who was in the Royals' rotation as the fifth starter for the first half of the season, is gradually getting re-accustomed to life in the bullpen as a long reliever.
"It's my fifth day and I've been feeling good. I'm waiting for the opportunity," Mendoza said. "Of course, I don't want to come in early because I want the starters to go longer. But just keep working and go back to how I felt before the last two starts."
Mendoza had back-to-back subpar starts which led to his switch of roles with Bruce Chen, the left-hander that he beat out for the last rotation spot in Spring Training. Although manager Ned Yost thought that Mendoza was showing signs of being tired after pitching in winter ball and the World Baseball Classic, the pitcher disagreed.
"I don't feel that way," Mendoza said. "Mentally, I feel strong. I've been working hard and my body feels great, but maybe my body feels different than my mind."
Mendoza is eager to make a strong impression in relief because he wants another shot at starting.
"That's in my mind, to come back to the rotation," he said.
Joseph glad to get Royals debut under his belt
CLEVELAND -- Left-hander Donnie Joseph's Major League debut wasn't particularly successful, but it was memorable, coming on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, and it's over -- a big step for any rookie.
"I felt good, I was a little nervous, a little antsy, but once I got out there, I felt good, I felt comfortable and tried not to look around or even think where I was," Joseph said. "Just focus on throwing it to Salvy [catcher Salvador Perez] and trying to do my job."
Joseph took over for the Royals in the bottom of the seventh and threw two strikes to Vernon Wells before he lined out to left fielder Alex Gordon. Then, Joseph walked Lyle Overbay and gave up a single to Zoilo Almonte and was relieved by Louis Coleman.
"I was definitely amped up and excited, but I was just trying to slow the game down and just tell myself that it's just another game. Just go out there and throw," Joseph said.
Joseph said the old saying about the game speeding up on a young, inexperienced player at the Major League level is true.
"That was the big thing for me. I wasn't really nervous or scared or anything. It's just like the game is going a million miles an hour," he said. "So that's why I just tried to slow everything down, take deep breaths, take my time, just kind of do my routine and throw strikes."
Coleman got two strikeouts and the runners were stranded so no runs were charged against Joseph in the 8-4 loss to the Yankees.
"If you're going to make a debut, you might as well make it in a historic place like that. So, I was very thankful for it," Joseph said.
Joseph's debut came around after he was called up from Triple-A Omaha to fill in for starting pitcher Wade Davis, who is away for three days on paternity leave.
"I'll take it. Whatever it takes," Joseph said.
Escobar productive lower in KC's batting order
CLEVELAND -- After Alcides Escobar batted in the No. 2 spot in the Royals' order for 15 of his previous 16 games, the shortstop was dropped to the bottom of the order again on Friday night against the Indians.
Escobar batted seventh with Eric Hosmer moving back up to second, followed by Billy Butler third and Salvador Perez fourth.
"It's production," manager Ned Yost said. "Esky's been more productive so far out of the nine-hole. He's been as productive out of the nine-hole as he is against left-handed pitchers -- .300 batting average, .330 on-base. If he's productive as that against right-handed pitchers at the bottom of the order, let's take it."
Escobar wasn't ninth in the Cleveland series opener because Jarrod Dyson, who normally bats ninth, was in the lineup in center field instead of Lorenzo Cain, while Elliot Johnson was at second base instead of Johnny Giavotella. Cain and Giavotella would normally bat ahead of Escobar.
"If he's got better numbers down at the bottom, it's better for him, it's better for us, it's better for everybody," Yost said.
Yost had the Royals' statistical specialists run some numbers on Escobar. Among them:
"Batting second, he's hitting .242 with a .275 on-base. Batting ninth, he hitting .298 with a .327 on-base," Yost said.
Simply put, Escobar is getting on base more often when he bats lower in the lineup. However, because he also hits left-handed pitchers very well (.302), Escobar likely will go back up to No. 2 when a lefty pitches for the opposing team.
"We're striving to get back to .500 and we've got to do it by scoring runs and utilize our good pitching, and our good defense," Yost said.
• Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre's wife, Sarah, had a son, Lucas, on Thursday night. He's their third boy, joining Micah and Evan. Bob Davis, who retired from the Royals' broadcasting team last winter, returned to take Lefebvre's place in the radio booth on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
• Lorenzo Cain's two assists in New York gave the Royals' outfield a total of 24, tied for second in the Majors with Arizona and one behind leading Minnesota entering Friday's action.
• Alcides Escobar's 18 infield hits ranked sixth in the American League. Eric Hosmer had the second-most on the Royals with 11, followed by Cain's 10.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.