NEW YORK — Veteran infielder Miguel Tejada got a break Friday after starting the previous six games — including four at second base following an injury to Chris Getz.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Tejada insisted, even at age 39, that he didn’t need the rest.
“I’m not tired. I’m excited,” he said. “That’s the good thing that is happening to me right now: I’m excited, and that’s because I’m in the lineup more, and I’m helping the team win some games.”
The Royals opted to start switch-hitter utilityman Elliot Johnson in their series opener against the New York Mets at Citi Field as part of a plan to stack their lineup with left-handed hitters against Dillon Gee.
The only right-handed hitters who started were catcher Salvy Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar (and pitcher Wade Davis).
Why all the lefties?
Gee’s slash splits practically begged for it. Opposing righties, prior to the game, were batting .240 with a .275 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentages. For lefties, it was .316, .387 and .516.
So manager Ned Yost saw Friday as a good chance to rest Tejada, whose six straight starts included an open date in the middle. There don’t figure to be too many days off, though, in the near future.
Tejada was seven for 22 with five RBIs over the six games and is batting .287 overall in 44 games with three homers and 18 RBIs.
With Getz currently on the disabled list because of a sprained left knee, the only options at second base are Tejada and Johnson — and Johnson entered Friday’s game with a .199 average.
Tejada insisted he’s ready.
“When they signed me, I prepared my body to be able to play every day just in case they need me,” he said. “I feel great. The more I play, the better my body feels.”
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain was picked by ESPN.com as the Defensive Player of the Month for July.
The network’s web site explained its selection: “Cain’s defensive runs saved total jumped from eight at the end of June to 19 at the end of July. His 11-run ascension was the biggest in the majors.”
“I had not heard about that (award),” Cain admitted, “but that’s great. I’ll take it.”
While Cain didn’t start Friday — that decision, too, stemmed from Yost’s desire for a lefty-heavy lineup — Cain said his left groin continues to improve. He missed three games before returning Thursday at Minnesota.
“I played a full game and felt great,” he said. “I thought I would wake up with some soreness today, but I didn’t. That was huge for me. I got my treatment this morning, and I’m ready to go.”
And a point to note on that July award: Cain’s reach-over-the-wall catch that robbed a two-run homer from Trevor Plouffe in Thursday’s 7-2 victory at Minnesota — that came on Aug. 1.
One of three
Here’s a gem from the Elias Sports Bureau: The Royals are one of just three American League teams in the last 30 years to win nine consecutive games without surrendering more than three runs in any of those victories.
The 2008 Twins also had a nine-game run, while the 2002 Angels pushed their streak to 10 in a row.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino is scheduled to begin another minor-league rehab assignment Saturday when he starts for Class AA Northwest Arkansas against Tulsa.
Paulino, 29, made just one start in his previous rehab assignment for his recovery from elbow surgery. He pitched five scoreless innings June 11 for the Naturals before tightness in his lower back ended that tour.
While trying to overcome the back ailment, Paulino subsequently experienced shoulder soreness, which further delayed his return to the mound.
Paulino was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in seven starts last year before elbow pain forced him to exit a June 6 start against Minnesota after one inning. He was later diagnosed with a torn ligament and underwent surgery on July 3.
Royals general counsel Daniel Crabtree has been nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as a U.S. district judge for the District of Kansas.
Crabtree is a partner at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP. He is a 1978 graduate of Ottawa University and received his law degree in 1981 from Kansas.
Lo-A Lexington right-hander Christian Binford was an honorable mention (“also in the team photo”) in Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet, which seeks to identify the game’s hottest prospects.
Binford, 20, is 7-4 with 1.89 ERA with an 88-92 mph fastball that should tick up as he puts weight on a 6-foot-6 frame.
It was 42 years ago Saturday — Aug. 3, 1971 — that the Royals drew their largest crowd in the four years they played at Municipal Stadium before Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973.
A crowd of 36,623 attended a 7-5 loss to Oakland.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Royals_Report.