NEW YORK -- Lorenzo Cain has been Kansas City's main contributor in center field this season, but manager Ned Yost knows he has an able reserve in Jarrod Dyson. Dyson, 28 years old, covers ground in center field as well as Cain and is far and away the Royals' fastest runner.
But he's also a year older than Cain, and Yost wants to let both players develop at their own pace. Kansas City could play Cain and Dyson as a strict platoon, but Yost said that the team makes its decision on who will play center field on a day-to-day basis by reading the matchups.
Dyson, a left-handed hitter, has already carved a footnote for himself by being the rare 50th-round draftee to make it to the Major Leagues. The Mississippi native is batting .257 with two home runs this year after not homering at all last year, and Yost thinks Dyson is just scratching the surface.
He's generated a little bit of power, but for him to take advantage of his full toolset, he needs to use his speed," said Yost. "Line drives and keeping the ball on the ground will be important for him."
Dyson signed with the Royals right out of high school and batted .276 in his climb through the Minor Leagues, and he's always best distinguished himself with his speed. Dyson stole 181 bases in 417 Minor League games, and he was caught attempting to steal just 35 times.
That ability has translated to the Majors, where Dyson has stolen 62-of-71 bases successfully. Yost said that Dyson still steals bases with pure speed as opposed to technique. Dyson stole 30 bases last year in 102 games, and he's gone 12-for-14 in steal attempts in his first 31 games this year.
"He's come a long way in the last two years," said Yost." He's working really hard to understand what it's going to take for him to be successful. He's got pure speed, and he's got all the attributes of a good basestealer. He can read keys, but the most important thing that he possesses is he's not afraid. He can steal a tough base when the opposition knows he's stealing."
Tejada proving to be a solid reserve for Royals
NEW YORK -- Miguel Tejada may have turned 39 years old in May, but he hasn't shown his age on the field. The former American League Most Valuable Player has extended his career by learning to play as a reserve, and he's batted .292 entering Tuesday and provided solid defense at both second base and third for the Royals.
That resurgence comes after Tejada essentially missed an entire season. The veteran played in 36 games last year for Triple-A Norfolk in Baltimore's organization, and prior to that, the last sighting of him in a big league uniform saw him hitting .239 in 91 games for San Francisco in 2011.
Now, the former Iron Man has recast himself as a substitute. Tejada, who put together the fifth-longest consecutive-games streak (1,152) in history, hasn't played at his former position of shortstop. But he's given the Royals enough that even manager Ned Yost is a little bit surprised.
"Maybe a little bit. But he's a very experienced player," said Yost. "He knows how to play the game. He knows how to prepare. He knows how to stay ready and he knows how to produce."
Tejada, the 2002 AL Most Valuable Player with the A's, is a long way away from the guy who drove in 150 runs for Baltimore in 2004. But Tejada has homered twice for the Royals, and he went into Tuesday's game against CC Sabathia batting .302 off left-handers this season.
"He hasn't really slowed down that much. He plays with a lot of energy," said Yost. "But yeah, it's been a little surprising how well he's played. He hasn't played shortstop yet. He's been playing second base and third base, and he's done well at both positions."
In addition to deep 'pen, Royals tough to strike out
NEW YORK -- The Royals may not have a complex winning formula, but they do two things better than virtually any team in baseball. Kansas City strikes out less than any other offense in the Major Leagues, and it's put together a relief staff that ranks among the most proficient units in the game.
Kansas City's bullpen has posted the fourth-best ERA (2.97) of any team in the Major Leagues entering Tuesday, and three relievers -- Aaron Crow, Greg Holland and Luke Hochevar -- have an ERA under 3.25. All three of those arms were drafted by the Royals, and lefty Tim Collins was picked up in a trade.
"We have a deep bullpen," said Yost. "We've got guys with tremendous stuff coming out of there. Everybody throws 94 or 95 mph for the most part."
The Royals have struck out just 547 times in their first 86 games -- the fewest of any big league team -- but they've also hit just 58 home runs. Just one team, the Marlins, has fewer home runs (53). Yost said Tuesday that he doesn't mind strikeouts as long as he feels his players have had a good at-bat.
"It's part of hitting. You're going to strike out," he said. "There are certain situations where it bothers you more than others, especially when you've got a runner on third base."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.