Royals manager Ned Yost did something rare Sunday. For the first time in 18 games, he held catcher Salvy Perez out of the starting lineup.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“It’s a chance to, with the off day tomorrow, give him two (rest days) in a row,” said Yost, who started backup George Kottaras in Perez’s place.
Perez’s heavy run of starts — a rarity for a catcher — came after he missed nine games following the death of his maternal grandmother in Venezuela in May. Perez overran Major League Baseball’s allotted bereavement leave of seven days and missed a few days’ pay while tending to his mother in his home country following the event.
Despite Perez’s heavy usage of late, Yost said he was still tempted to play Perez again on Sunday — especially with ace pitcher James Shields on the mound — but decided against it. The Royals’ three-hole hitter is one of the most consistent threats in the lineup, boasting a team-high .293 batting average with three home runs and 28 RBIs, but Yost says he’s always looking for signs a player is getting tired.
“You can’t run him into the ground — he’s played every day since he’s been back,” Yost said. “I wanted to give him an off day the last day in Cleveland (on Wednesday), but after we lost the middle game, I wasn’t going to do it.
“(Eventually), it just gets to the point where you’ve got to do it. I like him with Shields because it’s a great pair, but it’s a Sunday, we’ve got an off day tomorrow and … it’s two days off. Then you can run him in there again for a week or eight or nine days.”
Yost on Getz
Second baseman Chris Getz may have had a .214 batting average when he got sent to Class AAA Omaha on Friday, but Yost said struggles at the plate didn’t have everything to do with the demotion.
“I just want him to get some at-bats,” Yost said, when asked if he wants Getz to work on anything in particular. “Getzy didn’t get sent down because of poor performance. He was hitting (.214) but if you go back and look at a lot of those games that we won, Getz was right in the middle of it, some way, some form, some shape. That’s what you want, you want your players to go out and do something today to help us win.”
Yost said Saturday that Getz was essentially caught in a numbers game when the club opted to recall speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson from Omaha. The choice appeared to be between Getz and outfielder David Lough, who is batting .282 in 29 games as of Sunday, because each have options remaining. Other likely possibilities would have required a player to be released or designated for assignment.
No timetable on Brett
It’s been almost one month since George Brett and Pedro Grifol were hired as/ the new hitting coaches — the move was made on May 30 — and Yost said he couldn’t be happier.
“I think it’s gone great — I think Georgie has done a great job, I think him and Pedro both have done a great job,” Yost said. “They’re tireless workers, they’re on top of everything, I think we’re making great progress in a lot of areas.”
The Royals, who entered Sunday’s game with a 34-38 record, are 13-9 since the move. They are averaging 3.6 runs per game, which is down from the 4.0 runs per game they were averaging before previous hitting coaches Andre David and Jack Maloof were reassigned.
However, third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer — two young players the team hoped Brett and Grifol would have the most impact on — have seen slight upticks in their production since the change.
As of Sunday, Moustakas’ batting average was .237 in 18 games since the change, compared to .187 in 43 games. Hosmer was batting .318 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 22 games since the change, compared to a .262 batting average with one home run and 13 RBIs in 48 games.
The Royals announced a roster move Sunday, claiming right-handed pitcher Maikel Cleto off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cleto will be assigned to Omaha. To make room on the 40-man roster for him, the Royals designated outfielder Quintin Berry for assignment.
Cleto, 24, was 2-3 with a 6.92 ERA in 16 appearances with Class AAA Memphis. He appeared in one game for the Cardinals this season, allowing five runs in 21/3 innings in a 10-3 loss to Arizona on June 5, and has struggled in 15 big-league appearances overall, posting a 10.34 ERA with seven walks and 26 strikeouts in 152/3 innings for the Cardinals.
Berry, who was claimed off waivers by the Royals on June 4 after a stint with the Detroit Tigers, batted .194 with one home run, four RBIs and five stolen bases in nine games for Omaha.
Umps confer on call
There was a brief moment of confusion at the end of the seventh inning, when the umpires met to discuss whether Billy Butler had fouled off a pitch from Matt Thornton or swung and missed at a dropped third strike.
The confusion set in, Yost said, because some of his players told him first-base umpire Dan Bellino yelled timeout when a beach ball rolled on the field when all of this happened.
“The boys at the end of the dugout said they heard the first-base umpire call timeout, but when I went out there, he said he didn’t say a word,” Yost said.
Yost said the umpires were instead discussing whether the home-plate umpire was correct when he ruled Butler had fouled the pitch off, even though Butler and the White Sox completed the play as if he hadn’t.
“The play developed when the home-plate umpire called foul ball,” Yost said. “He called it foul and that was the issue and they went out to check to see if he fouled it off. They said no, he didn’t foul it, so the umpire called him out. When I went out there, he explanation was ‘I called it too quick and I missed it, we got together and we got it right. You want us to get it right, right?’
“That would be my argument if I was on the other side, just get it right. And they did.”
• This was the Royals’ 24th comeback win of the season.
• Prior to Jarrod Dyson and George Kottaras hitting back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, the last time the Royals had accomplished that feat was last Sept. 15, when Butler and Perez did it against the Angels.
• Luke Hochervar earned his first career victory as a reliever.
• According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Royals — as of Saturday — had the most web gems of any team with 22.