SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Everett Teaford has already made a name for himself during spring training with the Kansas City Royals.
If only people would start recognizing him because of his performance on the mound.
The left-handed rookie was the talk of camp last week when his pickup truck was stolen during dinner with some teammates. This was no rookie prank, either - it was later discovered completely stripped in the Arizona desert between Pheonix and Tucson.
"Rats Towing in Casa Grande, Arizona towed it. I never met Mr. Rat," Teaford said with a laugh. "I guess they are going to put it in the scrap yard."
Teaford got a rental car over the weekend and was waiting to hear what the insurance company would pay for his stolen truck.
"At least a dollar I would think," Teaford said.
Teaford was a fringe prospect before 2010, but he finished last season 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA while holding hitters to a .159 batting average in his final 10 outings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He went 14-3 in the Texas League and led the Royals organization in victories.
"It was a wild year, bouncing around roles, trying to figure where I would fit in," Teaford said. "I just made a couple of mechanical adjustments and my year took off. My velocity went up and my location got better. You put those two together you're going to do OK."
He went 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two starts in the Texas League playoffs and capped the year by going 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA for Team USA in the Pan Am Games qualifying tournament.
The former 12th-round pick in 2006 out of Georgia Southern, Teaford was placed for the first time on the 40-man big league roster in November. He had developed into a bona fide prospect.
"At 26, I'm on the senior prospect tour," Teaford said. "I don't know if I'm on the John Lamb, Mike Montgomery prospect line, but I'll be on the senior tour."
Lamb, 20, and Montgomery, 21, are considered the Royals' top pitching prospects.
Teaford is not an imposing figure on the mound, listed at 5-foot-11 and 156 pounds.
"This kid is cut," pitching coach Bob McClure said. "In a uniform, he looks like a scrawny kid. Without a shirt on, you should see his chest and his arms. He could be a wrestler. He's really put together, really built. In a uniform, it looks like you could blow him over."
Manager Ned Yost would like to keep at least two left-handers in the bullpen and Teaford will get a lengthy look in spring training. Dusty Hughes, the Royals' primary left-handed reliever last season, was claimed off waivers in January by Minnesota.
"I have a shot," Teaford said. "I know there's a lack of left-handers in the pen. I'll do anything to help the team. Whatever spot they want - bullpen or starter - I really don't care. Last year was a big step for me. I did bullpen and starting, did middle relief and short relief. I did just about everything last year. I'd be glad to go to the bullpen."
Teaford, who is scheduled to make his spring training debut Monday with an inning against the Texas Rangers, is glad that the focus is back on baseball.
And not how he's going to get to work.
"Hopefully I will give everybody something good baseball wise to talk about instead of my truck," Teaford said. "Let's talk about the baseball stuff, some of the good stuff."