Medlen earns top marks in KC rotation debut

Medlen earns top marks in KC rotation debut

KANSAS CITY -- Certainly there had to be plenty of emotions running through Royals right-hander Kris Medlen's body as he made his first start since September 2013.

After battling through two Tommy John surgeries, Medlen was back on the mound in a starting role and he was just about everything that manager Ned Yost and the Royals fans could hope for -- six solid innings, five hits, three runs, no walks and six strikeouts.

It was tidy, pitch-efficient (69) performance all wrapped up in an 8-3 win over the Orioles. And Medlen believes he kept his emotions in check.

"It was a great team win, and, obviously, from a personal standpoint, it was a really fun game for myself with the journey to come back," said Medlen, who had made seven relief appearances since debuting for the Royals on July 20.

"The Royals gave me a chance to get my feet wet in the 'pen [earlier this season], knock the cobwebs off and get a feel for some pitches. I was just trying to stay aggressive against a really good offense who can hurt you.

"But I tried not to make it about myself, about anything like that. I've said from the get-go, I didn't want this to be a pity party, not a 'Yeah, you did it' kind of thing. I expected to come and work and produce. I've said it every interview I've done, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this team. Right now, it's a different role than it was early on, but going to keep working and improving."

Yost was thrilled he could get six innings out of Medlen with the 70-pitch limit.

"We were hoping for five and he was at 59 or 57 pitches then," Yost said. "I told [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland], 'I'm putting him back out there.' And Dave said, 'Well, he has been up and down five times.' But I said, 'I'm sending him back out because we didn't [Greg Holland] and [Wade Davis], and [Ryan Madson] available. That difference between five and six innings was big for us because we didn't have to use [Kelvin] Herrera, either, and he was gonna close."

Medlen -- who started 61 of his 152 appearances in five seasons with the Braves before sitting out the 2014 season -- did make a mistake early, a hanging curve to Adam Jones, who blasted it over the fountains in left.

"It felt terrible coming out of my hand," Medlen said. "It was one of those ones that you know he's going to smack once you let it go."

But after that, Medlen was in control.

"I felt great the whole game," he said. "Salvy [Perez] called an awesome game. I didn't feel like I was overexerting anything. If you do that for 100 pitches, overexerting, you're going to feel pretty exhausted. I felt pretty good given the circumstances."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.