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Thursday’s Royals-Astros lineups

For the first time this season, Billy Butler will not bat cleanup for the Royals. Manager Ned Yost dropped him to No. 6 and installed catcher Salvador Perez as his new cleanup hitter as the Royals go for a sweep of the Astros on Thursday night.

The game begins at 7:10 p.m. It can be see on Fox Sports Kansas City.

Here are the lineups as James Shields (0-2, 2.37 ERA) faces Scott Feldman (2-0, 0.44 ERA):

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By ANDY McCULLOUGH. 4 minutes ago

Royals’ Ned Yost will drop Billy Butler from cleanup spot

Mired in an alarming, early-season slump, Royals designated hitter Billy Butler is moving out of the cleanup spot.

Manager Ned Yost confirmed the impending switch during an interview with KCSP (610 AM) on Thursday morning. The most likely result means Butler will drop to No. 6 and swap places with catcher Salvador Perez.

Yost dislikes fiddling with his lineup. But he conceded the move could help reduce the strain on Butler, who is batting .149 during the Royals’ 6-7 start and has yet to provide an extra-base hit in 47 at-bats. His on-base plus slugging percentage is .371.

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By ANDY McCULLOUGH. 3 hours ago

Almonte gives up one hit in six innings as Wilmington splits twinbill

Miguel Almonte pitched one-hit ball over six innings Wednesday night and Class A-Advanced Wilmington scored seven times in the sixth inning of a 7-2 win at Lynchburg in in the first game of a doubleheader.

The Hillcats won the nightcap 3-2.

In the first game, Almonte walked two and struck out seven without allowing a run as he ERA dropped to 2.60. In the sixth-inning rally, second baseman Jack Lopez, designated hitter Daniel Rockett and left fielder Terrance Gore each had two RBIs. Rockett also had two doubles in the game and Raul Mondesi had a triple to open the sixth inning.

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By PETE GRATHOFF. 16 hours ago

Royals’ Bruce Chen scratched from Thursday start

A minor ailment bothering veteran lefty Bruce Chen has reconfigured the Royals’ starting rotation.

With Chen nursing a tight left glute muscle, manager Ned Yost scratched him from his start on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. In his place, he moved up James Shields to replace Chen and tabbed Jason Vargas to start on Friday. Chen will attempt to return to the mound on Saturday when the team plays host to Minnesota.

In explaining the machinations, Yost mentioned how both Shields and Vargas were working with an extra day of rest thanks to a steady stream of off days. The new schedule “keeps Shields on his regular five days’ (rest),” Yost said. “It keeps Vargas on his regular five days’ (rest). And it gives Bruce a couple of extra days to get through this stiffness.”

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By ANDY McCULLOUGH. 23 hours ago

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