Yost won't 'fan the fire' on Cueto struggles

Royals manager confident right-hander will shake off career-worst stretch

Yost won't 'fan the fire' on Cueto struggles

KANSAS CITY -- The one topic that Royals manager Ned Yost dreads these days is the Johnny Cueto issue. As fans continue to panic about Cueto's past four starts, Yost and his staff remain patient and calm.

Cueto was fantastic in his first four starts with Kansas City, posting a 1.80 ERA with opponents hitting just .222 off him. In his past four starts -- the worst four-game stretch of his career -- he has a 9.45 ERA with opponents hitting .394 off him.

Not good. But Yost simply shrugs his shoulders.

"I'm not going to fan the fire with him," Yost said. "Every time I turn on the TV, it's, 'What's wrong with Johnny Cueto? What's wrong with Johnny Cueto?' Hey, he's going to be fine."

Cueto fans Gose

Yost believes there are many explanations for the slump.

"He's thrown into a new environment, a new team, a new league, a new catcher and in a city that's on fire for its baseball team," Yost said. "There are a lot of things here that you have to go through to get settled in as a new player.

"Is he putting too much pressure on himself right now? Probably. But he'll get through that."

Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who gave up three top pitching prospects to the Reds to get Cueto, isn't all that concerned, either.

"The first thing you ask yourself is, 'Is he healthy?'" Moore said. "And if the answer is yes, you don't lose any sleep over it. He's a veteran guy who will figure it out."

Cueto, too, insists that he is fine physically.

"Everything is good," Cueto said through an interpreter. "I feel great."

The results obviously haven't been great, however.

Pinpointing the problem has been difficult. Pitching coach Dave Eiland thought for a while that Cueto was leaving his front shoulder too open, thus elevating his pitches. But Cueto made a mechanical adjustment in his last start that fixed that.

Cueto strikes out Sanchez

Still, Cueto gave up five runs in three innings against the White Sox. He will get his next shot at redemption on Saturday against the Orioles.

"When pitchers go in slumps, it's a lot of things going wrong all at once," Yost said. "Sometimes he is making good pitches that are eight inches off the plate and they're getting hit. Sometimes there are good pitches that become broken-bat hits or bloopers. It just happens. You get unlucky.

"I'd rather have it happen now than in October."

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.