A look at the threatening forecast Thursday told Royals manager Ned Yost to be cautious. More specifically, he saw it as a warning to provide center fielder Lorenzo Cain with a day off.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
A year after multiple leg and hip injuries limited him to only 61 games, Cain is leading the Royals with a .329 average. Most importantly, he’s staying healthy.
Yost plans to keep it that way by playing it a little more careful with Cain throughout the season. In that regard, he opted to sit Cain on Thursday in favor of Jarrod Dyson, who slid into the eighth spot in the starting lineup.
“With the cold weather, the stop-and-go that I’m anticipating, I didn’t want to put Cain through that,” Yost said. “I’m going to have to spot him. I want to give Cain a break once a week when he needs.”
Yost said Cain has had no recurring issues with his hip or groin — the two injuries that led to an extended stint on the disabled list from April 12 to July 9 last summer. But he’s opting for caution anyway.
“He’s got to get through the year, but he’s done it before,” Yost said. “He just had a rough year last year. He’s such a good player that you don’t want to lose him. So you’re probably a little more guarded than you need to be.”
Wins up, attendance down
The Royals’ offseason spending led to a more productive opening month of the season, which translated into record-setting TV ratings with Fox Sports Kansas City.
It hasn’t, however, brought more fans to the ballpark.
While weather has certainly played its role, the attendance numbers for the first 12 home dates (through Wednesday) are down compared with last season — which may be particularly surprising given the Royals lost their first 10 home games a year ago.
Through 12 games this season, the Royals are 8-4 at home, but the average turnout at Kauffman Stadium has been only 18,789 fans. A year ago, that number was at 21,662.
Yost shrugged off the numbers when asked about a low turnout Tuesday night against the Rays, a win that drew only 12,738 despite good weather.
“It’s a Tuesday night — school night,” Yost said. “Once the kids get out of school, there will be plenty of people here.”
Another start for Johnson
A utility infielder is becoming something more along the lines of a regular fixture in the Royals lineup.
For the third consecutive day, Elliot Johnson started at second base for the Royals. Acquired along with James Shields in a seven-player deal with the Rays last December, Johnson had three hits, a home run, two runs and a stolen base in the first two games of the series — both wins.
“He’s played two really good games,” Yost said. “We’re just kind of riding the hot hand right now.”
After starting the season 2 for 17, Johnson is hitting .208 (5 for 24) in his first year with the Royals.
Viva Los Royals set for Sunday
The Royals will celebrate Hispanic heritage Sunday — Cinco de Mayo — with their annual Viva Los Royals festivities.
The first 10,000 fans to arrive for Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. game against the White Sox will receive a free Royals cooler, courtesy of Sprint. Prior to the game, there will be a party in the Outfield Experience area starting at 11:30 a.m., with entertainment provided by Willy Vela y sus Aguilillos and El Grupo Atotonilco. During the pregame party, local restaurants will battle to win the second annual “Salsa Showdown,” offering fans a chance to taste salsa samplings and vote on a winner.
It was 18 years ago Thursday — May 2, 1995 — that the Royals held a ceremony to retire Frank White’s No. 20 prior to a 4-3 victory over Minnesota at Kauffman Stadium.
Bob Dutton contributed to this report