SAN DIEGO -- Yordano Ventura, Kansas City's rookie pitching sensation, gets a two-thumbs-up review from a pitching expert -- Padres manager, and former Royals left-hander, Bud Black.
"I've read about the kid, all the accolades, seen him pitch a couple times on television. Pulled up video as we do prior to a series," Black said. "But this kid's better in person. Some commentary's been tempered, some has been a little bit over the top but, I'm telling you, this kid is legit."
Ventura worked six innings in Monday night's 12-inning, 6-5 loss to the Padres. The first five innings were scoreless but he got a curveball up to Yasmani Grandal which resulted in a three-run homer in the sixth. He gave up just five hits, walked nobody and struck out 10.
"Not knowing the kid, not knowing what he's all about, but just from a pure delivery, stuff, arm action, pitches -- it's real," Black said.
"I was impressed, obviously, with velocity but after watching other games that he's pitched, I thought his use of secondary pitches was great. He's in command, good mound presence, fields his position, a little bit of emotion when he gave up the homer -- I liked that. He was upset. There was a lot to like."
Black expected that he'd see a lot more of Ventura's notorious fastball, which approaches (and sometimes exceeds) 100 mph.
"Going in, I thought it would be fastball heavy," he said. "But, sure enough, here comes the good change and here comes the curveball. There were some counts and some at-bats where I'm thinking, 'OK, let's go, get on the heater, be ready for the fastball,' and here comes the secondary stuff."
His Padres managed to survive the kid but Black had a parting thought.
"Well," he said, "I'm glad we don't have to face him anymore."
Cain not complacent after four-hit night
SAN DIEGO -- Lorenzo Cain, just off the disabled list, got the fourth four-hit game of his career in the Royals' 12-inning loss Monday night.
"I'm definitely happy for my day but, at the end of the day, we didn't win the ballgame. That's the most important thing," Cain said.
"But I stayed healthy. I felt good running. I just got to continue to just focus on my running form and just run under control, that's the biggest thing."
Cain, after getting just seven at-bats rehabbing with Triple-A Omaha, felt that, despite the four hits, his timing still needs sharpening.
"I saw the ball good but the timing issue is still there and, hopefully, I can get my timing back as soon as possible," Cain said. "I got four knocks, so you can't complain about that, but the ball is still getting a little deep on me a little bit. But, at the same time, I just try to stay on it and drive it the other way. Keep working and I think I'll be up to speed very soon."
Royals' power hitters get aggressive on 3-0 counts
SAN DIEGO -- So when is it a good idea to swing on a three-ball, no-strike pitch?
"A lot of it depends on the pitcher but it could be the best pitch you're going to get for the rest of the at-bat. It could be," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "So we green-light our power hitters with one out, never with no outs, and only if it's at a point in the game where it can give us the lead or add on."
The Royals, according to Baseball-Reference.com, through Monday night had 23 counts of 3-0 and have connected with six, resulting in one hit.
"We have swung at six. I've probably given the (green light) sign 10 times, 12 times, maybe more," Yost said.
Those green lights usually go to just middle-of-the-order power hitters such as Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon or Mike Moustakas.
"We don't want our No. 1 and No. 2 swinging 3-0," he said.
Yet Nori Aoki swung at 3-0 pitch in Baltimore and got a hit and Omar Infante went after a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning Monday night against the Padres and flied out. But both those cases, Yost said, were mistakes -- they weren't OK'd to swing.
"All this gets magnified when you lose five in a row. It's a non-issue when you're winning ballgames," Yost said. "We green-lighted Gordy last year three (runs) down and he hit a grand slam and nobody said a word about that."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.