For one night, Yuniesky Betancourt was the Royals starting second baseman again. And as Royals manager Ned Yost says, maybe its a sign his team is finally starting to get healthy again.
By RUSTIN DODD and BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Were starting to get to the point where were getting at least (to) the light at the end of the tunnel in getting a lot of our players back, Yost said.
Betancourt, who rejoined the Royals before Fridays game against Oakland, made his presence felt with an RBI double in the bottom of the first. The Royals cleared space for Betancourt on their 25-man roster by optioning infielder Irving Falu to Class AAA Omaha. Betancourt, 30, had spent nearly a month on the disabled list because of a high right ankle sprain.
Yost wouldnt say how hell divide up time for Betancourt and Johnny Giavotella, but he did say why the Royals had chosen to keep Giavotella over Falu.
We like Johnnys bat off the bench, Yost said. Its basically the same (flexibility). Yuni can play second, short and third like Falu. It was not a hard decision.
Betancourt played six games on a minor-league rehab assignment before rejoining the big-league club four at Class AA Northwest Arkansas and two at Omaha. He went a combined 10 for 23 with two homers and six RBIs.
Felt good, Betancourt said.
The Royals promoted Falu from Omaha on May 3 to replace Betancourt. Falu, 28, tied a franchise record by getting hits in his first nine big-league games and batted .326 overall (14 for 43) in 12 games.
Betancourt initially suffered the injury late in spring training but tried to play through it. He was batting .280 (14 for 50) with one homer and three RBIs in 15 games before going on the disabled list.
• Catcher Salvador Perez (knee) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (hip flexor) are regaining their health in Arizona. Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Perez might be able to leave for a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday, while Cain is about a week behind Perez.
According to Moore, Perez caught seven innings on Friday. (He threw out two runners and picked another off first.)
Hes going to take (today) and Sunday off, Moore said, and go out sometime next week.
• Infielder Chris Getz, who is recovering from a left ribcage contusion, took batting practice on Friday and could leave for a rehab assignment early next week.
Royals first-round pick Bubba Starling will soon, finally, have a minor-league home. Moore said Starling would be assigned to a short-season affiliate Burlington or Idaho Falls at the conclusion of extended spring training. Burlington and Idaho Falls begin their seasons in mid-June.
Hes swinging the bat well, Moore said. When we selected him last year, we felt he would be in extended spring and then on one of those short-season clubs. We werent going to put limitations on him. But we feel weve got a really good group of young players down there who we signed last year over slot.
They were late signings, and were keeping that group together in extended (spring training) and into the short-season (clubs). We just want to keep those guys together.
Top prospect Wil Myers hit his fifth homer of the season for Class AAA Omaha on Friday night against Iowa. Myers, who now has a combined 18 homers between Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, was also playing with an injury that forced him to be the designated hitter.
Hosmer in right?
First baseman Eric Hosmer took some reps in right field in early work on Friday. Hosmer has occasionally taken pregame practice in right since spring training. But he may finally get some game action next week when the Royals visit Pittsburgh on Friday for their first interleague road series.
If the Royals want to keep designated hitter Billy Butler in the lineup, Hosmer may log some time in right field.
I had those couple days of spring training, Hosmer said. So Ive been working out there, and Im starting to get some looks in BP just in case for interleague.
Players of the month
• Right fielder Jeff Francoeur took home Royals player of the month honors for May after batting a team-leading .321 with five homers and nine doubles during the month. Francoeur also managed to slug .566 while raising his season batting average from .229 to .280.
• Right-hander Felipe Paulino, meanwhile, was voted Royals pitcher of the month after posting a 2.03 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Tracking the Royals home attendance.
• Friday: 29,527
• 2011 season: 420,745 (through 23 games).
• 2012 season: 531,812 (through 23 games).
• Ahead: 111,067
• 2011 average: 18,293
• 2012 average: 23,122
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.