KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Brett Tomko agreed Monday to a $3 million, one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, promising he has worked out the problems that led to failure with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.
A right-hander who turns 35 during the first week of the 2008 season, Tomko will compete for a spot in the rotation but is also a candidate for bullpen duty for a club seeking to climb out of the AL Central basement.
"I've done both and I'm comfortable with both," he said. "But that was one of the main things we talked about this winter. We talked with other (clubs) for bullpen and setup positions."
Tomko's contact calls for an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses.
"We like the power in his arm and the experience that he brings to a very young pitching staff," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "I think he blends in very well with the current group of pitchers we have on the roster."
In his worst stretch since breaking into the majors with Cincinnati in 1997, Tomko was 2-11 with a 5.80 ERA last year for Los Angels. After being designated for assignment, he signed with San Diego and was 2-1 with a 4.61 ERA as the Padres competed for a playoff berth.
Changes he made in style and delivery at the urging of the Dodgers led to his problems.
"They asked me to try a couple of things. They wanted to see a little more movement, change my mechanics a little bit. I went into it with an open mind and thought I'd try whatever they asked."
At first, the changes looked good. He had 10 strikeouts in his first start.
"But over the next few starts, it wasn't working," he said. Soon, bad habits were formed and he could not escape a self-imposed rut.
"I got put in the bullpen and was mopping up games. It got worse and worse," he said.
Finally, he was cut and went home for 16 days.
"I revamped everything and tried to go back to what I was doing," he said.