ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Outfielder Jeff Francoeur sure doesn’t sound like a man concerned the clock might be ticking on his time with the Royals.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
“I don’t worry about that,” he insisted. “You can’t. I’m paid to do a job. This is my job here. The way we’re playing, I find it hard (to think) we’d make a change.”
The Royals are on a roll, certainly, with nine victories in their last 10 games prior to Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field.
But a decision is looming.
Outfielder Jarrod Dyson is now midway through the 20-day limit for a minor-league rehab assignment at Class AAA Omaha to test his recovery from a high right ankle sprain.
When Dyson returns, the Royals will be an outfielder heavy. That sets up a choice between Francoeur and rookie David Lough unless the Royals choose to clear roster space in another manner (which seems unlikely).
Dyson is out of options, which means he must return to active duty once his rehab assignment expires. The only alternative is to move him off the roster, i.e., releasing him, trading him or designating him for assignment.
That, too, is unlikely.
Francoeur has roughly $4 million remaining on a guaranteed contract that expires at the end of the season. Lough has options remaining, which means he can be sent to the minors without being placed on waivers.
Club officials have, generally, kept mum on the matter, although indications suggest they will opt to protect inventory. That means sending Lough back to Omaha and keeping Francoeur.
At least temporarily.
Such a move maintains a better right-left roster mix — keeping Lough would leave the Royals with three lefty-hitting outfielders (with Alex Gordon and Dyson) and only right-handed hitter (Lorenzo Cain).
It would also provide Francoeur with some additional time to work with the club’s two new hitting coaches, George Brett and Pedro Grifol.
“Frenchy just hasn’t transitioned it to the game yet like some of these other guys have,” manager Ned Yost said. “In batting practice and early hitting, he looks a lot better. It just hasn’t transitioned to the game.”
The internal debate is ongoing and, as club officials point out, there is no reason to make a decision until Dyson is ready to return. But the view seems to be Francoeur can always be jettisoned at a later date if he fails to improve.
“I’ve been working hard with George and Pedro,” Francoeur said. “I’ve had walks in my last two games. So I know I’m seeing the ball well. That’s the key.
“This is a situation I’ve never been in. Sitting out some and then playing. But I know if I start swinging, I’ll get my opportunities again.”
Davis get his shot
Wade Davis is seeking to minimize any emotional overtones attached to facing his former team for the first time in Sunday’s series finale at Tropicana Field.
“I’ll approach it like I usually do,” he said. “Stay relaxed. They’ve got a good offensive team, and I’ll just go after them. We’re winning games around here. That’s all I care about. I don’t care about past stuff.”
Davis spent nine years in the Rays’ organization before coming to the Royals with pitcher James Shields and infielder Elliot Johnson in a Dec. 9 trade for outfielder Wil Myers and three other minor-league prospects.
Shields and Johnson embraced the competitive reunion, but Davis insisted facing the Rays will be no different than facing the Indians or Angels.
“Would you rather it be any other way?” he asked. “That can be completely counter-productive. If you go out there trying to do too much, you end up being in a hot mess. I’m not thinking about it like that.”
Davis saw one plus to facing the Rays: Familiarity.
“It’s an advantage as far as not having to learn new hitters,” he said. “I’ve seen them in the past. I’ve seen them do good things. So you know your (possible) mistakes and your weaknesses (in matching up against them).”
On the mend
Pitcher Luis Mendoza continues to receive regular treatment on a sore left knee that stems from a play at the plate in May 24 loss to the Angels at Kauffman Stadium.
Mendoza said the injury “is not a problem,” and he has made four scheduled starts since it occurred. He worked six-plus innings Friday in a 7-2 victory over the Rays.
“I keep an eye on it,” Yost said. “It gets a little sore after he pitches. By the time he comes back around again, he doesn’t feel a thing.
“He’s on the back end of this. We were worried about him making his next start two weeks ago. We don’t worry about it anymore.”
Look for the blue
The Royals and every other team will don blue wrist bands and blue uniform decals for Sunday’s game in a Father’s Day support for the fight against prostate cancer.
A year ago, Father’s Day produced perhaps the Royals’ most memorable victory of the year — 5-3 at St. Louis in 15 innings.
Billy Butler tied the game at 2-2 with a two-out pinch homer in the ninth inning against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. Both teams scored once in the 14th inning before Yuniesky Betancourt hit a two-run homer in the 15th.
Lo-A Lexington shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi was added to the South Division team for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday in Lakewood, N.J.
Mondesi, 17, is batting .239 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 58 games.
Lexington pitchers Christian Binford and Alec Mills were previously selected to the South roster.
• Salvy Perez went two for four and extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
• Jeremy Guthrie has not struck out a batter in his last two starts, which cover 14 innings. He struck out the last batter he faced in his previous start.
• Luke Hochevar pitched a scoreless eighth inning after replacing Guthrie. The Royals’ bullpen has allowed only one run in its last 29⅔ innings.