ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was a question that, for all practical purposes, came at Royals manager Ned Yost straight out of left field.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Could he foresee a scenario in which Alex Gordon would shift back to third base? Gordon started his career at third base before becoming a Gold Glove-winning left fielder.
“I don’t envision that,” Yost said. “The thought hasn’t ever come into my head that we’re going to put Alex back at third base. It’s never occurred to me.”
The question stems primarily from Mike Moustakas’ ongoing struggles, but the Royals are also facing a crowded outfield when Jarrod Dyson returns from the disabled list.
Moving Gordon, it appears, won’t be the solution.
“Have I thought about putting Alex at first or third in an emergency during a game?” Yost asked. “Yeah. But have I thought about moving Alex back to third base? No.
“That thought has never come up in any conversation that we’ve ever had. We’ve got (Elliot) Johnson and (Miguel) Tejada to fill that spot (if Moustakas needs a break).”
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer admitted he was more at ease after learning his line drive apparently resulted in nothing more than a mild concussion for Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb.
Hosmer visited Cobb on Saturday night at the Bayfront Medical Center with several players from both clubs. Cobb was taken off the field on a stretcher in the fifth inning after he was hit in the right ear by a Hosmer line drive.
“It was better to go over and see him than just hear about it,” Hosmer said. “He was sitting up, laughing and talking. That was good to see. It made me feel a lot better.”
Cobb was placed on the seven-day disabled list Sunday, which permits a club to replace a player who is being monitored for possible post-concussion problems. Cobb was released in the afternoon from the medical center.
Catcher Salvy Perez blunted a Tampa Bay comeback with a web-gem defensive play in the seventh inning.
The Royals led 4-2, but the Rays had a runner at first with one out when Matt Joyce hit a high topper in front of the plate on a pitch from Tim Collins.
“I broke a little bit late because I didn’t see the ball,” Perez said. “When I saw the ball, I yelled to Timmy, ‘I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ve got it.’ It’s a lot easier for me than for him.”
Perez barehanded the ball and threw a dart to first that just beat Joyce. Instead of two on and one out, the Rays had a runner at second with two outs. Collins ended the inning by retiring Ben Zobrist on a fly to right.
“Huge play,” Yost said. “There were nine ways that play could have gotten screwed up, but it didn’t.”
Rehabbing left-hander Danny Duffy struggled again Saturday — statistically, anyway — in throwing 68 pitches in a three-inning start for Class AAA Omaha at Iowa.
Duffy permitted two runs and four hits while walking three and throwing a wild pitch, but he did register five strikeouts. It was his fifth rehab start, including two at Omaha, in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Even so, Duffy saw encouraging signs.
“Starting to feel like me again, you guys,” he said on his Twitter account. “Once I stop walking the world, I’ll be golden. Feel comes slow when you’re learning how to throw again.”
Duffy started his rehab assignment May 26 at Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Assignments are limited to 30 days for pitchers, but he has options remaining and can be sent to the minors if judged not ready for big-league duty.
Where are they now?
Former Royals first baseman Kila Ka’aihue is heading to Japan, following his recent release by Arizona, to join the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.
Ka’aihue, 29, is expected to join the Carp on Monday. He batted .216 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 87 games over parts of three seasons for the Royals. He also played last season in 39 games for Oakland.
Post-Father’s Day extra
The fathers of several Royals players are part of the traveling party for the current trip, which continues Monday with the start of a three-game series at Cleveland.
The trip’s highlight could come Monday at Progressive Field when the fathers take part in a special round of early batting practice. They are likely to be limited to a handful of swings apiece to guard against … overexertion.
It was 26 years ago Monday that Royals manager Dick Howser died at age 51 from complications resulting from a brain tumor.
Howser managed the Royals from Aug. 31, 1981, until being diagnosed with cancer shortly after the 1986 All-Star break. He guided the club to its only World Series title in 1985.
The Royals retired his No. 10 and inducted him into their Hall of Fame on July 3, 1987.
• The last time the Royals won a series at Tropicana Field was Sept. 20-22, 2004, when they won two of three.
• The Royals were 14 for 39 with runners in scoring position over the four games. The Rays were four for 24.
• Greg Holland had not allowed a run in 12 innings over 12 appearances before surrendering a one-out homer in the ninth to José Lobaton. That run was only the second permitted by the Royals’ bullpen over the last 34 innings.