SURPRISE, Ariz. — Lets start with the disclaimer: Royals manager Ned Yost isnt saying this will be his lineup for the April 1 regular-season opener against the White Sox in Chicago.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Only that it could be.
So take a look:
Alex Gordon, left field
Alcides Escobar, shortstop
Billy Butler, designated hitter
Mike Moustakas, third base
Salvy Perez, catcher
Eric Hosmer, first base
Lorenzo Cain, center field
Jeff Francoeur, right field
Chris Getz, second base
Yost rolled out this order for the first time Friday against the Angels in Tempe. The most obvious tweaks are dropping Hosmer from third to sixth, shifting Butler from fourth to third and putting Moustakas at cleanup.
The Royals offered a different look Saturday and Sunday largely because Hosmer is nursing a slight strain in his right quadriceps muscle, but this projects as the likely lineup entering the season.
Were still looking at things, Yost hedged, but were trying to protect Billy. When youve got Moose, Hos and Billy all in a row, you get past the sixth inning
Say Gordie gets on, and Esky moves him to second. Theyre going to bring in a lefty to face the lefty (Hosmer or Moustakas), walk Billy and then face the other lefty. Were trying to eliminate that as much as we can.
It was two years ago at a similar point in camp that Yost shifted Gordon to leadoff duties. It was unconventional; Gordon doesnt fit the typical leadoff profile and, at the time, had yet to establish himself as a reliable performer.
That move paid off big.
Gordon provided a combination of on-base percentage of power over the last two years that places him second only to Butler in terms of being a bankable offensive contributor.
This new look hinges on either Moustakas or Hosmer evolving into a consistent run-production bat. Moustakas gets the initial look at cleanup based, presumably, on a torrid spring performance.
Were trying to split our lefties, Yost said. We like Gordie in the one, and Escobar in the two. After that, three, four, five, six and seven
Im not a big proponent of moving guys up and down (once the season starts). Thats why here in spring training, the last week, were trying to get a feel for some things.
We want to look at it and see if guys get comfortable in those spots.
The priority is to force opponents to pitch to Butler or pay for not doing so.
Youve got one of your best hitters not getting pitched to, Yost said. You dont want that. You want to stay away from that as much as you can. Thats why we slipped Billy into the three from the four.
Moose is good protection for Billy. Then Hos should be good protection for Sal. And Cain should be good protection for Hos. Six, seven and even eight, theyre going to have a bunch of RBI opportunities or they should.
Those spots are just as important as one through five.
It isnt set in stone, but Yosts history is to settle on a lineup with about a week to go. In other words, about now...
This lineup is built to allow us to do different things, he said. We can move Hos up. Or we can move Billy back to the four. We can do a lot of different things.
This lineup has good flow. Its got good sequence on it. I like it.