Cueto on 'target' with Salvy in strong outing

Cueto on 'target' with Salvy in strong outing

DETROIT -- Before Johnny Cueto even took the mound on Friday night, the Royals had worked out a plan they were convinced could rescue him from a recent five-game slump. And that plan worked beautifully as Cueto turned in a strong seven-plus innings, two-run effort in the Royals' 5-4 loss in 12 innings to the Tigers.

Cueto met privately earlier this week with manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland, and the right-hander opened up about what he thought was the problem.

"Basically, he thought that with Salvy [catcher Salvador Perez] being so tall, he was setting up a high target," Yost said. "Johnny is a guy who throws to the glove. So if the target is set up high, he's going to miss high."

The three then met with Perez and relayed the information. After that, Cueto and Perez performed a bullpen session and the results were encouraging. Perez even started practicing catching the ball with one knee on the ground to get his target lower -- that was evident in Friday night's game as well.

So why didn't Cueto bring this up before?

"Well, because Sal is an All-Star and a Gold Glover," Yost said. "He didn't want to insult him."

The results were stunningly good. Cueto got nicked for a run in the first and wobbled a bit in the second and third. And then he cruised until the eighth.

"From the third inning on, he went in shutdown mode," Yost said. "He really kept the ball down."

Cueto seemed relieved afterward.

"I feel a lot of pride," he said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I feel good.

"I was in rhythm. That's how I'm supposed to feel."

Cueto, too, could notice a difference with Perez, suggesting they were on the same page, especially with the target set up lower.

"Thank God for all the communication we had with Salvy between starts," Cueto said. "It came to fruition. I really felt comfortable with him behind the plate."

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.