ROYALS NOTEBOOK

Royals’ Lough has four-hit game

Updated: 2013-05-27T23:55:51Z

By NICOLE POELL

The Kansas City Star

Outfielder David Lough, who started in center field Monday, looked pretty comfortable hitting in the leadoff spot against the Cardinals. Lough finished four for five -- the first four-hit game of his career -- with a double in the first and singles in the third, fourth and ninth innings.

And three of his four hits came against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

“Wainwright’s tough. They don’t call him one of the best in the game for no reason,” Lough said. “I just tried to get in good counts, just tried to help my team as much as I possibly can ... I kinda sat on his fastball. I don’t think I saw any breaking stuff until my fourth at-bat...

“Unfortunately, we lost, but we move on and look forward to (Tuesday).”

Manager Ned Yost was impressed with Lough’s performance against Wainwright.

“Four hits today. He had some really good at-bats against a really good pitcher,” he said.

Lough admitted that the more he plays, the better he feels.

“The more consecutive days I play, the more I get into a groove. But that leads back to what role I’m given. It’s something I have to get used to, because I’m always used to playing every day down in the minor leagues. But, yeah, the more I play, the more comfortable I get at the plate.”

And Lough said he’s more at ease with the Royals now than he was during his call-up last September.

“Last year was a little nerve-wracking,” he said. “This time around, I feel a lot more comfortable. I know a lot of the guys, played with them in spring training.”

Lough played 20 games with the Royals and hit .237 after joining the team last September. This season, he was recalled on May 24 and joined the team in Oakland after outfielder Jarrod Dyson went on the disabled list because of an ankle injury.

In seven games, Lough is hitting .320. He was batting .340 with a .393 on-base percentage in 36 games while batting leadoff in Omaha.

He said that his strong performance in spring training, where he hit .455, definitely helped his confidence.

“It takes a lot of guys a little while through spring training to find their swing and stuff,” he said. “I think I found it early, and it definitely helped me take it into Omaha. I did struggle at the beginning at Omaha, but I found it again and just tried to stay as consistent as I possibly could.”

Moustakas sits again

Third baseman Mike Moustakas didn’t play for a second straight day because of tightness in his quadriceps muscle, which flared up over the previous few games.

Miguel Tejada started at third in Moustakas’ place and finished one for three.

Moustakas suffered the injury initially on a slide at home in a May 21 victory at Houston. He was hit in the same location by a pitch Saturday, and aggravated the bruise further that day on a slide at second base.

“Three instances all in the same spot kind of tightened it up,” manager Ned Yost said. “The problem with a quad bruise is it does get tight, and that can lead to a strain. He’s much better (Monday), but there’s no sense pushing it.”

Moustakas has just three hits in his last 45 at-bats and is batting .178 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 42 games.

“Moose has got enough (pressure) on him right now,” Yost said. “I don’t want to put him in a position (to play) unless he feels good. He doesn’t need to be pushing through something.”

Dyson update

Injured outfielder Dyson hopes to be cleared Tuesday to begin running in his recovery from a high right ankle sprain suffered May 15 at Los Angeles when he climbed the center-field wall in pursuit of a homer.

“Hopefully, by Wednesday at the latest,” Dyson said, “but I’ve got to make sure that I’m able to go. I can’t come back and just be ready to go only a day or two.

“I’ve got to prepare myself as if I’m going to play every day.”

Dyson is eligible to be activated for Friday’s series opener at Texas but appears likely to miss at least another week to 10 days.

Minor details

The day-after reports on Danny Duffy’s first minor-league rehab start were positive. Yost said Duffy’s fastball showed good life, particularly in the first two innings of his three-inning start for Class AA Northwest Arkansas.

“Location was decent,” Yost said. “Got tired in his last inning but made enough quality pitches to get through his inning scoreless.”

Duffy worked his fastball at 91 mph and hit 96 mph while throwing 37 of 63 pitches for strikes. He allowed two hits but no runs while walking two, hitting a batter and striking out four in a 4-1 victory at San Antonio.

The start came roughly 50 weeks after Duffy underwent Tommy John surgery to replace an elbow ligament. Rules permit pitchers to remain 30 days on a minor-league rehab assignment.

Kottaras on plate discipline

With starting catcher Salvy Perez on the bereavement list, George Kottaras started his third straight game Monday and finished one for four.

Kottaras has the second-highest on-base percentage on the team at .375, despite his limited playing time as backup to Perez. (Tejada took the lead after Monday’s game with an OBP of .378.)

With just 30 at-bats in 16 games, Kottaras has 10 walks and has walked in the go-ahead run twice already this season (at Detroit on April 25 and at Houston on May 21). Yost has regularly cited Kottaras’ “no-panic” approach.

Kottaras said that patient approach didn’t happen overnight -- it was a combination of experience and not playing every day.

“Over the years, you kind of learn about yourself and what you’re good at and not. I know a lot of times when a situation comes up, I’d rather take a strike at a pitch that’s something where I can’t do much with, than swing at it and get myself out. Just being more patient and seeing pitches.

“That’s the whole thing of not playing every day -- I want to see some more pitches and get deeper in the count. So taking some of those pitches early kind of helped me later in the count.

“It just comes with time, I think, and taking pitches early and not being afraid to hit with a strike or two strikes, and then just trusting it.”

Memorial Day tribute

World War II veteran Robert Riley of Raytown was on the mound Monday to throw out the first pitch as part of the Royals’ Memorial Day festivities.

Riley, 89, served as a tank commander in WWII with the 4th Armored Division and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Riley had two tanks destroyed by enemy fire and received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star after saving five injured men.

Looking back

It was 34 years ago Tuesday -- May 28, 1979 -- that George Brett hit for the cycle for the first time in his career.

Brett’s second homer of the game was a walk-off blast in the 16th inning against Sammy Stewart for a 5-4 victory over Baltimore at then-Royals Stadium.

There have been six cycles in franchise history but none since Brett did it for the second time in his career: July 25, 1990 at Toronto.

Etc.

• Monday’s attendance of 34,746 was the biggest crowd since the home opener on April 8 came in at 40,073.

• Over the four-day series against the Angels, Royals fans helped Royals Charities and the American Red Cross raise more than $20,000 for tornado relief in Moore, Okla.

• Billy Butler went two for four and is one hit away from 1,000 for his career.

• Alex Gordon has hit safely in 39 of 48 games after finishing two for four Monday.

Bob Dutton contributed to this report. Reach Nicole Poell at 816-234-4230 or npoell@kcstar.com.

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