Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar wasn’t available to play in the series opener against the Tigers on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium, but could return for Friday’s game.
Escobar took a 96-mph fastball from the Indians’ Danny Salazar off the bottom part of his ear flap in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game in Cleveland. The ball also appeared to catch some of Escobar’s cheek.
Escobar told reporters before Thursday’s game that he hoped to play Friday, but that will depend on a test he’ll take earlier in the day. A stint on the disabled list is still a possibility.
“When he left the game he was dizzy, had a headache, had trouble focusing, which are all concussion-like symptoms,” manager Ned Yost said.
But on Thursday, Yost said Escobar’s only problem was a little dizziness when he looks up quickly.
“Hopefully he’ll be better in the next couple of days,” Yost said.
The Royals will use Christian Colon at shortstop, and that meant a batting-order shuffle. Escobar had hit leadoff every game this season except two, when he sat out following a knee injury suffered on a hard slide by the Athletics’ Brett Lawrie.
Colon hit ninth on Thursday, and Alex Gordon, who had only hit sixth this season, moved up the leadoff spot.
“He’s as hot as anybody we got,” Yost said. “When that lineup comes back around, you want your best hitters hitting, give him as many opportunities as you can. He’s the best candidate for it.”
Hitting leadoff isn’t new territory for Gordon. Over his career, he’s hit first in the order more than other spot. He’s hit 40 home runs and owns a .285 batting average from the top spot.
With Escobar unavailable even in an emergency situation, the Royals don’t have a backup middle infielder on the roster. Mike Moustakas took ground balls at second and short and is the likely candidate for those spots, with Gordon moving to third.