NEW YORK -- In the seventh inning of Monday's 6-0 win over the Yankees, one night after his 4-for-4 performance in a loss to the D-backs, Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur drilled Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda's 1-0 pitch to left-center field for his second home run in his last nine games.
The two-run drive put the Royals ahead by five and continued Francoeur's comeback from a difficult stretch to start the season.
"He's had some really good at-bats," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We think [Eric] Hosmer is right behind him, and [Alex] Gordon, too."
Prior to his home run on May 13, Francoeur had been homerless in his first 31 games to start the season. Francoeur and Yost have reason to believe that slump is now over. In batting practice before Sunday's game, Francoeur adjusted his approach with the help of Royals batting coach Kevin Seitzer. Since tweaking his swing, Francoeur is 5-for-10 with a home run, a triple and two RBIs.
"I definitely feel more comfortable," Francoeur said. "I was confident in what me and Seitz worked on, and I'm confident in the approach we're going to have. That was huge."
Francoeur said he tended to wrap his bat around his body while waiting for a pitch to be thrown, which kept him from taking a direct path to the ball with his bat. In the batting cage, Seitzer noticed the glitch and suggested that Francoeur rest his bat at more of an angle. The adjustment allowed for less movement in Francoeur's swing, enabling him to get to pitches more quickly.
"It feels good," Francoeur said. "Right now, I feel great. I feel comfortable. Kuroda pitched me tough tonight."
Francoeur said he went through some early frustrations this season, as his power numbers were slow to arrive. Last season, Francoeur finished with 20 home runs and 87 RBIs.
"I think there are times when you've got to make small adjustments, depending on what happens," Francoeur said. "This is one of those things where it's a small adjustment, but so far, it has paid off."
Getz exits after aggravating rib injury
NEW YORK -- Royals second baseman Chris Getz left Monday's 6-0 win over the Yankees in the fifth inning after aggravating a left ribcage injury. He's scheduled to undergo further tests on Tuesday to determine the extent of the setback.
In the fifth inning of Wednesday night's game against the Orioles, Getz suffered a bruised rib on his left side during a baseline collision with Chris Davis and left a couple of innings later. He didn't play the next two games but returned to the lineup on Saturday night.
In the third inning on Monday, Getz tried to stretch a single to center field into a double, but after pausing for just a moment, he was thrown out sliding headfirst into second base. At the time, Getz thought he was safe.
"I hesitated, and I don't even know what told me, but my instincts were, 'Let's just go for it,'" Getz said. "I was in there, but obviously in hindsight, I wish I wouldn't have gone, for a few reasons."
This was the first time Getz's injured area had felt an impact since the original injury.
Irving Falu replaced Getz at second and doubled in the eighth inning, ultimately scoring on a Freddy Garcia wild pitch for the final run of the game.
With relief in flux, Royals eye stability
NEW YORK -- Wanted: a long man for the Royals' bullpen. Interested applicants should see manager Ned Yost.
"I don't have one," Yost said on Monday at Yankee Stadium. "It's a combination of five guys I don't want to wear out down in the bullpen."
When the season began, Yost had a long reliever in Everett Teaford. But Teaford was needed to make a spot start, so Nate Adcock was called up from Triple-A Omaha for that role. Then Luis Mendoza was replaced in the rotation by Felipe Paulino and Mendoza became a second long man. A few days later, Vin Mazzaro was recalled and there were briefly three pitchers available as long men.
Without reciting all the injuries, options and recalls that followed, to make the long man story short, suffice it to say there are none left in that bullpen role. Yost plans to remedy that very shortly.
"There are too many different scenarios going on right now," Yost said. "We've got to decide on one and go with it."
Yost needs a long man to jump into a game in case a starter is knocked out or is injured early in an outing.
"That's the bottom line," he said.
KC bench coach benefiting catching duo
NEW YORK -- Brayan Pena credits bench coach Chino Cadahia for making a big difference in the uptick in throwing efficiency for the Royals' two catchers, Pena and Humberto Quintero.
"We've both improved a lot with Chino; he's always been hard on us as catchers, but it's a good hard," Pena said.
The catching duo threw out just two of their first 18 would-be basestealers, but going into the Royals' series at Yankee Stadium, they had caught 11 of the last 24. That included a 7-for-12 showing by Quintero.
Cadahia, who became the Royals' bench coach this year, was also hired for his ability to teach catchers. Pena also cited pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Steve Foster for improving Royals pitchers' ability to thwart would-be thieves.
"They're making sure they hold the runner, making sure they throw over a lot and making sure they're faster to home plate," Pena said.
Quintero said he's also been helped recently because his sore back and hip have healed, enabling him to throw unimpeded.
"I think my hip and my back were bothering me, but now I'm feeling 100 percent," Quintero said.
Royals launch site to honor Armed Forces
NEW YORK -- As part of the Royals' salute to the military, the club has launched royals.com/military to honor active and retired members of the United States Armed Forces.
The page features military-specific content, including videos and photo galleries of the club's extensive military outreach program. It also outlines special offers exclusively for military members, including the Uniformed Heroes ticket discount program courtesy of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.
Fans can also learn about the Walk-Off A Hero tribute, which recognizes a member of the military at each weekend home game. Until June 1, there is a special military discount code to sign up for the All-Star Charity 5K & Fun Run on Sunday, July 8, in downtown Kansas City.
Major League Baseball's highest-attended pre-Memorial Day weekend in history -- 1,652,935 tickets were sold for 45 games -- got some help from Kansas City, where 85,397 fans flocked to the Royals' three-game Interleague series against the D-backs. Add Thursday's attendance against the Orioles, and the Royals averaged 28,368 for their last four home games.
Tim Collins, who struck out five of six batters on Tuesday, was leading American League relievers with 30 strikeouts through Sunday. The Royals also led all AL teams with 138 strikeouts by relievers.
The Royals are scheduled to get an up-close-and-personal look at Andy Pettitte, who returned to the Yankees from retirement, on Wednesday night. Pettitte is 13-3 with a 3.48 ERA against the Royals in his career.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.