The day-after report on center fielder Lorenzo Cain proved far more disappointing than the Royals initially feared.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Cain was diagnosed Friday with grade II strain in his right hamstring, which indicates a partial tear of the muscle and makes it possible – perhaps likely – that he will miss the remainder of the season. Cain said he doesn’t expect to play again.
The Royals reacted to the news by recalling outfielder Jason Bourgeois from Class AAA Omaha. Bourgeois started Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.
“We’ll platoon him and David Lough out there in center,” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s what we’ve got.”
The Royals’ options were limited before Cain’s injury because Jarrod Dyson is battling a strained right lat muscle in his back. Dyson is available for pinch-running and pinch-hitting, but the injury affects his ability to throw.
A Lough-Bourgeois platoon in center means Jeff Francoeur will likely see regular duty in right field for the rest of the season.
Club officials reiterated they have no current plans to promote Wil Myers, the consensus minor-league player of the year. Myers is not on the 40-man roster and doesn’t require protection this winter to avoid eligibility for the Rule 5 draft.
“We haven’t even discussed it,” Yost said.
Promoting Myers would, effectively, prevent the Royals from protecting another player as a trade-off for what would likely be no more than 50 at-bats.
If circumstances required the Royals to add another outfielder, the likeliest candidate is Derrick Robinson who, like Bourgeois, is already on the 40-man roster.
Cain suffered the injury in the 10th inning of Thursday’s 4-3 loss at Minnesota when he made a diving attempt to catch Alexi Casilla’s leadoff drive into the right-center gap. The ball skipped past Cain for a double.
When Cain left the game, the Royals, because of previous lineup moves, had to employ a makeshift alignment. Francoeur shifted from right to center; first baseman Eric Hosmer moved to right field; and backup catcher Brayan Peña went in to play first.
The switches lasted only long enough for Denard Span, the next hitter, to line a walk-off RBI double over Hosmer’s head.
Bourgeois, 30, batted .333 earlier this season in 19 games over two previous big-league tours. He was batting .243 in 60 games at Omaha with three homers and eight RBIs.
The Royals acquired Bourgeois in a March 20 trade from Houston with catcher Humberto Quintero for minor-league reliever Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later – who turned out to be minor-league outfielder D’Andre Toney.
Eyeing winter ball
Infielder Christian Colón, the Royals’ first-round pick in 2010, is counting the days until he can get back in the batter’s box after suffering a season-ending facial injury Aug. 13 on a foul ball.
Colón was one of 14 prospects recognized before Friday’s game when the Royals presented awards to the top player and pitcher for each of their minor-league affiliates. He was picked as the player of the year at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
The injury occurred shortly after his promotion to Omaha.
“It was a fastball inside,” Colón recalled, “and I was looking in there. So the ball was going to hit me regardless. I was opened up already, and the ball was coming in. I fouled it off in front of me, and it came back and hit my cheekbone right under the eye.
“When it happened, the thing you wanted to find out was, `how is the eye?’ Can you see? We went to the hospital, and they looked into the eye and said nothing was wrong with the eye. I was able to see. That was the good news from it.
“I have the fractures (in the cheek), but that will go away. The vision is good.”
Colón, 23, batted .301 this season in 85 games for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. He has resumed baseball activities but has yet to face live pitching. That test will come next month in the Instructional League or in November in winter ball in Puerto Rico.
“Maybe the first at-bat,” he said, “when I step back in there against a real pitcher, I’ll think about it. Really, I’m trying to just forget about it. I had a bunch of tests done. I can see. It’s a miracle, and I’m just excited to get back out here.”
Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi, the player and pitcher of the year at Omaha, were not present for the awards ceremony. The Storm Chasers played host Friday to Reno in the third game of the Pacific Coast League championship series.
Myers, 21, batted .314 in 134 games at Omaha and Northwest Arkansas with 37 homers and 109 RBIs. Odorizzi, 22, was a combined 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 26 games at Omaha and Northwest Arkansas.
All other recipients except right-hander Michael Mariot attended the ceremony. He was promoted recently to Omaha. (Stats are across all levels):
Northwest Arkansas: Colón (six homers, 36 RBIs, .301 average in 85 games) and Mariot, 23, (6-3, 3.33 ERA in 33 games).
Class A Wilmington: outfielder Whit Merrifield, 23, (9-44-.258 in 125 games) and right-hander Yordano Ventura, 21, (4-7, 3.62 in 23 games).
Class A Kane County: outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, 19, (10-61-.282 in 105 games) and right-hander Angel Baez, 21, (6-5, 3.17 in 16 games).
Short-season Idaho Falls: outfielder Ethan Chapman, 22, (1-29-.313 in 67 games) and left-hander Sam Selman, 21, (5-4, 2.09 in 13 games).
Short-season Burlington: outfielder Bubba Starling, 20, (10-33-.275 in 53 games) and left-hander Colin Rodgers, 18, (3-1, 2.05 in 11 games).
Rookie Surprise: outfielder Alexis Rivera, 18, (3-34-.341 in 48 games) and left-hander Matt Tenuta, 19, (3-5, 4.58 in 13 games).
Dominican Academy: infielder Wander Franco, 17, (2-38-.311 in 66 games) and right-hander Miguel Almonte, 19, (8-2, 1.75 in 16 games).
Omaha resumed pursuit of its second straight PCL title Friday night at home against Reno, a Diamondbacks affiliate. The teams split the first two games of the best-of-five series earlier this week in Reno.
The Storm Chasers turned to right-hander Nate Adcock, 8-6 with a 5.53 ERA, while Reno started right-hander Joe Martinez, 10-11 and 5.39.
The fourth game is Saturday night at Omaha. The fifth game, if necessary, is Sunday afternoon in Omaha.
Myers was among 15 players selected by Baseball America to its Minor League All-Star Team, which spans all classifications. That’s probably no surprise since he was selected earlier this month by the publication as its minor-league player of the year.
Myers’ 37 homers ranked second among all minor-league players. He was also third in slugging (.600), fourth in extra-base hits (69) and RBIs (109) and fifth in OPS (.987). Myers was also picked, of course, to the All-Class AAA team.
Two of the organization’s pitching prospects were cited on the all-level teams. Ventura was one of four starting pitchers on the All-High Class A team, while Selman was picked as the All-Rookie level pitcher of the year.
It was 35 years ago Saturdday – Sept. 15, 1977 – that the Royals stretched their winning streak to 16 games by completing a double-header sweep of Oakland at then-Royals Stadium: 7-6 in 11 innings and 5-4 in 10 innings.
It was, at the time, the longest major-league winning streak in 24 years. It also remains the longest streak in franchise history.
The streak ended the following day when Seattle’s Doc Medich pitched a complete game in a 4-1 victory at Royals Stadium. The Mariners broke a 1-1 tie by scoring once in the eighth and two runs in the ninth against Marty Pattin.