KANSAS CITY -- It's been a rough season for Luis Mendoza. The right-hander went 2-4 in the rotation with seven quality starts, but he also had three outings of four innings or fewer -- including 1 2/3 in his last start. After five appearances out of the bullpen, he's finding his groove again.
Since switching to the bullpen, Mendoza has gone 0-1 in five appearances, and he brought a 4 1/3-innings scoreless streak going into Monday's game. He appeared in two games this homestand and pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, with two hits, one walk and one strikeout.
"His last two outings have been really, really good," manager Ned Yost said. "He's got his fastball, his good two-seamer back to 93 mph and he's throwing strikes with it. I'm very pleased with what I've seen the last couple times out."
Yost said Mendoza seemed tired in his last couple starts, and Mendoza said his time playing for Obregon in the Mexican Winter League may have contributed to his declining success as a starter.
"Every day I feel better and better. And of course, when I pitch, I feel better," Mendoza said. "It's probably in my mind. My arm might feel good, but maybe my body really feels tired. That's probably why I struggled throwing strikes. I don't feel tired, but maybe my body is."
Kansas City scene a familiar one for DeJesus
KANSAS CITY -- It was almost like the old days for David DeJesus on Monday -- he was playing center field and batting in the leadoff spot. But it was just "almost" because he was doing that for the Tampa Bay Rays, not the Kansas City Royals, as he did for many years.
DeJesus spent eight years with the Royals, one with Oakland and was in his second with the Chicago Cubs when he was dealt to Washington on Aug. 19. After four days, the Nationals flipped him to the Rays last Friday, and he suddenly he finds himself in playoff contention.
"So now I'm right smack in the middle of it and it's great, just being around these guys that are so talented but so relaxed," DeJesus said. "It's really something different than Chicago this year, where things were a little uptight."
It's quite a change being in manager Joe Maddon's laid-back clubhouse.
"The only thing he expects is be yourself and run the ball out," DeJesus said. "That's what he stresses, and I think he gets the most out of the players every day. And I'm excited to keep it going."
It was September 2003 when DeJesus first joined the Royals in Texas.
"I remember sitting between Carlos Beltran and Mike Sweeney, trying to not get in their way -- not trying to cause a ripple or anything like that," DeJesus said. "And Mike came up to me later in the day and gave me a hug and said, 'You deserve being here.' And that's one thing that still sticks in my mind -- a veteran guy that didn't have to do that but just loved on me and gave me that comfort to be who I am and deserved to be with the team. It was pretty cool."
DeJesus made his debut that night by playing the last two innings in center field.
"That's when they forgot to announce me into the game and my name didn't show up in the box score," he said. "And I'm like calling my friends, 'Yeah, I played yesterday,' and they're like, 'Sure, you did.' And I was like, 'I was in there, I swear to you.'"
Monday's makeup game marked the first time that DeJesus had been at Kauffman Stadium since 2011 with Oakland
"It's cool being here. I've been here before, so it's nothing different," he said. "Now it's just another jersey on, but I'm excited to play. I love playing in Kansas City -- so many good memories here. I love coming back. It's one of the most beautiful stadiums, in my opinion, in the Major Leagues."
Maddon is using DeJesus to lead off against right-handed pitchers, and he went 4-for-7 and scored two runs in his first two starts.
"I've done it all season with the Cubs, so I feel comfortable in the leadoff spot. That's nothing different," DeJesus said. "My job is to get on base in front of the guys behind me. And Longo [Evan Longoria] and Ben [Zobrist] are swinging it good, so something I've done my whole career is all I need to do. So there's no added pressure, just go out and be myself."
Royals reach halfway mark of grueling stretch
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are more than halfway through a stretch in which they were scheduled to play 44 games in 44 days. They don't have another off-day until Sept. 12, but manager Ned Yost said it's all just part of the grind.
"Both clubs are in the exact same position," Yost said. "The trainers and the conditioning staff do a great job of making sure everyone is hydrated. You just go play the game. It's not easy, it's hard. It's smokin' hot out there, we haven't had a break in a long, long time, but then again these guys are kind of geared to that. They're geared to playing like that."
With temperatures in the 90s throughout the seven-game homestand, Yost said they are trying to make some concessions to limit players' unnecessary time in the elements.
"It's a little bit easier when you can find times to give them a break and get them off the field for batting practice standing around outside for an extra hour using up that energy that they're going to need in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning of this game, because once your tank starts to run low, it runs low," Yost said. "You try to conserve as much as you can for the game and go get it."
Hochevar's wife gives birth to healthy baby girl
KANSAS CITY -- Luke Hochevar and his wife, Ashley, welcomed a healthy baby girl named Lucy Jane Hochevar on Sunday afternoon.
Hochevar was placed on paternity leave Sunday morning in anticipation of the birth, and Lucy was born at 1:16 p.m. CT, two pitches before Alex Gordon's leadoff home run. She weighed 8 pounds and 2 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long. She is the couple's second daughter, joining Lacey.
"Everybody did great," manager Ned Yost said. "Beautiful little girl."
Hochevar will take all three allotted days of paternity leave and rejoin the team on Wednesday in Minnesota. Left-hander Will Smith was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to add another arm to the bullpen in Hochevar's absence.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.