CHICAGO — The biggest beneficiary of the Royals’ big off-season trade with Tampa Bay might be rookie David Lough.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
It was that trade that positioned Lough — and not Wil Myers — as the leading candidate for regular duty in right field after the Royals finally tired of waiting for veteran Jeff Francoeur to rediscover his 2011 form.
“He still has a lot of upside, room to grow and get better in a lot of phases in his game,” manager Ned Yost said. “But what was important is he was given an opportunity, and he took advantage of it.”
Lough is batting .297 after going one for four with a walk in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the White Sox in 12 innings. He drove in the Royals’ first run and scored their second one.
Further, Lough is on a roll with at 16-48 (.333) in his last 13 games.
“I’m just trying to take the same approach to every at-bat, whether it’s a lefty or a righty,” he said. “Try to put together good at-bats. Try to get in good counts. Try to get a good pitch. It’s been working.
“I feel comfortable. I feel real comfortable. I’m just trying to go with how I know to play this game. Play hard and try to put together good at-bats.”
It isn’t just his bat.
Lough saved Saturday’s 1-0 victory with a diving catch in the ninth inning. The White Sox had runners at first and third with one out when he turned in a web gem on Jeff Keppinger’s sinking liner to right field.
The play so shocked Alex Rios, who was at third, that he was unable to tag and score even through Lough had to get back to his feet to make a throw home.
Lough’s strong overall play is also forcing the Royals to re-evaluate their roster as the calendar winds down to Wednesday’s non-waiver trading deadline.
While they would still like to acquire a right-handed-hitting outfielder for balance, it no longer is the priority it once was.
“It would have to be a pretty significant upgrade because Lough is doing fine out there,” Yost said. “He’s real been consistent from the first day he got here against right-handers and left-handed pitching.”
Cain feeling better
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain vowed to “be ready to go on Tuesday” after leaving Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the White Sox because of what the Royals termed “tightness in his left groin.”
Cain felt much better when he awoke Sunday morning after admitting he was nervous after problem surfaced. He slammed into the center-field wall after running down Jeff Keppinger’s deep fly in the seventh inning.
That’s not surprising.
Cain suffered a groin injury under similar circumstances on April 10, 2012 in Oakland. That injury forced him to the disabled list and marked the beginning of a series of ailments that limited him to 61 games.
Coleman on roll
Reliever Louis Coleman is on a run of six consecutive scoreless outings, covering 6⅓ innings, since his July 8 recall from Class AAA Omaha.
Coleman gained his first “hold” by getting the final two outs in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the White Sox and could be in line for increased duty in higher-leverage situations.
“Strictly match-ups,” Yost said. “Their whole team, the one they had on the field, was one for 29 against Coleman (in his career).”
Coleman, 26, compiled a 2.87 ERA in 48 games as a rookie in 2011 but slumped last season to 3.71 in 42 games. He opened this season at Omaha, where he had a 1.61 ERA in 24 games prior to his recall.
“I look at, `Do I have confidence in him now?’” Yost said. “And I do. That’s obvious. That’s why I put him in that situation (in Saturday’s game).”
All quiet (for now)
The countdown continues toward the nonwaiver trading deadline at 3 p.m. Wednesday, but one Royals official said, “Everything is real quiet right now.”
Another club official said, despite rampant speculation, there have been no recent talks about trading pitcher Ervin Santana, who will be a free agent after the season.
Lefty Danny Duffy worked five scoreless innings Sunday but settled for a no-decision in Class AAA Omaha’s 4-1 victory over Nashville.
Duffy permitted just two hits while striking out seven and walking two but threw 87 pitches before handing a 1-0 lead to Francisley Bueno, who gave up a run in the seventh before Omaha scored three later in the inning.
It was six years ago Monday — July 29, 2007 — that Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews received the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in his field at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Matthews join the Royals’ broadcast team in the club’s first year and is currently in his 45th season. He was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
• The last time the Royals, 51-51, were .500 or better this late in the season was 2003, when they were 56-46 after 102 games.
• The last time the Royals swept a three-game series at Chicago was April 9-11, 1999.
• The last time the Royals swept a three-game road series anywhere was July 5-7, 2010 at Seattle.
• Aaron Crow’s seven victories are the most by any reliever in baseball.
• Luke Hochevar has not allowed a run in his last 13 outings covering 14 innings.
• Alex Gordon’s last road homer was May 9 at Baltimore.