SEATTLE — Center fielder Lorenzo Cain is batting .340, entering Friday’s game against the Mariners, with three homers and 13 RBIs in 14 games since rejoining the Royals after a 13-week stay on the disabled list.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Impressed? Just wait.
“I’d say I’m 80 percent,” he said. “You’ll notice when I’m 100 percent. Trust me, you’ll see it. I’m still not running like I want to, but I’m running good enough. The way I feel right now is good enough to be on the field. I’ll take that.”
“He’s given us a nice boost,” manager Ned Yost said. “He’s feeling better. He’s moving better in the outfield. That’s all good news for us.”
And long overdue.
Cain’s potential was a big reason the Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the Giants after last season rather than agree to go to arbitration after Cabrera rejected a two-year offer for $13.5 million.
That trade, which netted pitchers Jonathan Sánchez and Ryan Verdugo, has turned into a disaster on its own – but Cain’s injury problems made it seem far worse.
Cain suffered a left groin strain in the season’s fifth game and, while on a minor-league rehab assignment, made things far worse when he ripped his left flexor. He continues to battle soreness in his left leg.
“The wheels are OK,” he said. “They’re getting better. If I can just finish this season out, on the field, I’ll be happy.”
All appears quiet with the Royals on the trade front – although general manager Dayton Moore has a track record of ninja-like stealth in such matters.
Texas is showing some interest in closer Jonathan Broxton as a fallback option if they can’t swing a deal for another starting pitcher. The Rangers, presumably, would shift Alexi Ogando to the rotation in such a scenario.
The Mets and Giants previously expressed interest in Broxton, who will be a free agent after the season. The non-waiver trade deadline in 3 p.m. Tuesday Central time.
On the slide
The left side of the Royals’ infield entered Friday is in a combined slump.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar was on a two-for-17 skid on the heels of a career-best nine-game hitting streak. His average was down to .302, its lowest point since June 24 after climbing as high as .314.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas was just three for 17 through the first four games of the current seven-game trip. He remains second on the club with 16 homers, but he entered Friday without one in his last 58 at-bats.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura placed third on Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet, which seeks to identify which of the game’s top prospects are currently performing at a high level.
Ventura, 21, allowed one earned run and three hits in 12 2/3 innings last week in two starts for Class AA Northwest Arkansas while striking out 12 and walking six. A lack of support meant he lost his only decision.
Baseball America reported: “Ventura keeps piling up strikeouts and proving to be hard to square up. His size (5 feet 11, 140 pounds) will continue to give scouts causes for concern, but with a fastball that touches 100 mph and improving secondary stuff, Ventura is the Royals’ starting pitcher who has taken big steps forward this year.”
Ventura pitched one scoreless inning earlier this month as the starting pitcher for the World team in the All-Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. He began the season at Class A Wilmington before getting promoted after the Futures Game.
Left-hander John Lamb, once rated as the organization’s top pitching prospect, is expected to resume throwing side sessions within the next few days at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz.
Lamb, 22, appeared poised to return to game action earlier this month in his recovery from Tommy John surgery before tendinitis surfaced in his left foot. He underwent elbow surgery on June 3, 2011.
Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said Lamb is “probably not going to get into games until mid-August at the earliest.”
It was seven years ago today – July 28, 2005 – that the Royals opened a four-game series at Tampa Bay with a 10-5 loss. It was the first of a club-record 19 consecutive losses.
The Royals didn’t win again until Aug. 20, when Mike Wood, Andy Sisco, Ambiorix Burgos, Jeremy Affeldt and Mike MacDougal combined for a 2-1 victory at Oakland. Pitcher José Lima provided champagne in a post-game celebration.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to . Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.