With San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner set to make his Kauffman Stadium return on Wednesday night, Royals manager Ned Yost opted for Whit Merrifield over Raul Mondesi at second base.
Merrifield, who started in right field Tuesday after being recalled from Class AAA Omaha, will make his first start at second in a right-handed heavy lineup. The Royals will hope to combat the left-handed Bumgarner with Cheslor Cuthbert at designated hitter and Paulo Orlando in right field.
Merrifield finished 2 for 3 with a solo homer and two walks on Tuesday in his first game back with the Royals, a 2-1 loss to the Giants in 11 innings. Mondesi, a switch-hitter, finished 0 for 3 as his batting average sank to .114. He struck out twice with runners on in the late innings. Yost said the Royals’ staff considered pinch hitting for Mondesi with two men on in the ninth, but they ultimately elected to allow him to bat. They preferred the platoon advantage of Mondesi facing a right-handed pitcher from the left side. They hoped he would get a fastball to hit.
“I mean we can talk about Mondi ’til we’re blue in the face,” Yost said. “We were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. We pick up one of those runs and we’re not even talking about it. So in the big scheme of things, Mondi’s not the problem.”
Mondesi has started 11 of the Royals’ 13 games at second base. In the other two, he sat in favor of Christian Colon against a left-handed pitcher. In the past, Mondesi has been a better hitter from the left side. All three of his career homers and six of his seven career extra-base hits have come against right-handed pitching.
The Royals are facing Bumgarner for the first time since Game 7 of the 2014 World Series.
Here is the rest of the lineup:
1. Alex Gordon, LF
2. Mike Moustakas, 3B
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Whit Merrifield, 2B
7. Alcides Escobar, SS
8. Cheslor Cuthbert, DH
9. Paulo Orlando, RF