Despite declaring several times in the past week that Alex Gordon was not returning to the leadoff spot, manager Ned Yost penciled in his All-Star Gold Glove left fielder at the top of the order Thursday for the series finale against the White Sox.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
The switch also moved designated hitter Billy Butler back to the cleanup spot, while first baseman Eric Hosmer remained second and catcher Salvy Perez moved into the third spot in the Royals batting order.
Its all part of manager Ned Yosts continuing search to spark a struggling offense.
Theres not a lot I can do, Yost said. These guys have to go out and produce, but the one thing that I can do is put them in a different spot and give them a different bit of a mindset to see if that gets them going. As soon as they get back on track, well get back on track.
Yost indicated that hell stick with the retooled lineup for the foreseeable future.
If youve watched me manage much over the last three years, you know that I dont move guys around a lot, Yost said. Were going to stick with Alex in the one for a while.
Entering Thursday, Yost had used 104 lineups in 125 games. Only four AL teams Tampa Bay (110), Seattle (110), New York (108) and Houston (108) have used more. The league average is 97.
For now at least, Gordon returns to the table-setter role.
You have to switch things around periodically throughout the season, especially with our offense struggling, Butler said. I know Alex feels comfortable in the one hole.
Disappearing ball trick
The sign behind home plate, which swallowed loose pitches on back-to-back nights, has been repaired.
On Tuesday, an Ervin Santana fastball skipped past Perez and ripped a hole in the mesh sign. It was the first time a ball had disappeared into the ad display at Kauffman Stadium.
Amazingly, another ball disappeared on Wednesday when a Jeremy Guthrie breaking pitch hit the sign a couple inches from the existing hole, which had been taped together while the new sign was printed and shipped.
Wed never had anything like that happen before Tuesday, so what are the chances it would happen two straight days? Royals vice president of business and marketing Michael Bucek asked. Its like lightning hitting the same spot twice.
Fox Sports Kansas City microphones caught an incredulous Salvy Perez say, Again? after the ball Guthrie threw vanished.
The rotating signage to either side is padded, so a ball cant tear through. However, the space in the middle cant be padded, because it also houses a parabolic microphone and two directional microphones.
The new sign has grommets closer together and a 1-by-8 board was added at the top on the left side to provide additional support.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino will continue his rehab Friday at Class AAA Omaha.
Im up to 90, 95 (pitches), and were going to keep building it up, Paulino said. Right now, Im trying to go deep into games and well see how I feel come September.
Paulino left a start in June 2012 with elbow discomfort and underwent Tommy John surgery. His comeback was stalled by back and shoulder tightness, but now hes full steam ahead again.
Im a little off mechanically, but thats normal, Paulino said. I havent pitched much in a long time, but Im focused on working those mechanics. Everything back, shoulder, elbow feels good, so Im happy with where Im at right now.
Butler still proud
Designated hitter Billy Butler understands that a 2-7 stretch has tamped down fan enthusiasm after the Royals second-half surge reached a crescendo with a 6-2 win Aug. 12 against the Marlins.
Still, he is happy with the strides made this season.
When you look at years past, were 64-61 (entering Thursday) and I know what my records been on every team Ive been a part of here in Kansas City up to this point, Butler said. Im proud of these guys. That doesnt mean weve quit or were satisfied being where were at, but Im proud to be teammates with these guys.
In Butlers six previous seasons, the Royals have never been better than 56-69 through 125 games and have averaged only 53 wins during that time.
• Before Fridays game with the Nationals, Jeff Montgomery will present Royals left fielder Alex Gordon with the clubs MLB Players Alumni Associations Heart and Hustle Award. Gordon was honored for his work with the Alexs Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds for cancer research.
• An hour before Thursdays game, first baseman Paul Konerko was scratched after experiencing light-headedness.
• Also before the game, the White Sox recalled infielder Leury Garcia, who was acquired as the player to be named from Texas in the Alex Rios trade, from Class AAA Charlotte. Outfielder Blake Tekotte had been optioned to Charlotte after Wednesdays game.