Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz suffered a freak injury during batting practice Monday when a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez fractured his wrist. Kuntz will undergo surgery on Wednesday.
Mike Jirschele filled in for Kuntz at first base during Monday’s game. Kuntz spent the evening with his arm in a sling, dealing with the pain.
The accident occurred a couple of hours before a 4-3 loss to Cleveland. Kuntz was standing in shallow center field, preparing to hit fungoes to the outfield. When he reached to pick up his bag of baseballs, he felt something strike his arm.
“I turned around and I looked — I thought somebody hit me with a baseball bat,” Kuntz said. He added, “It was like ‘Oh my God. What the hell?’ And that was the first time I’ve ever broken a bone.”
Perez profusely apologized to Kuntz afterward.
“He felt so bad,” Kuntz said. “Oh my God. He came in right after and said ‘Papi, are you OK? Papi, are you alright?’
“ ‘Salvy, right now, no. All I want to do is throw up right now.’ ”
The team hopes Kuntz can return to action by this weekend in Baltimore.
“Depending on how big a cast they’ve got to put on,” manager Ned Yost said.Lefties working way back
A pair of injured left-handed relievers joined the Royals at Progressive Field on Monday.
Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno are both eligible to return from the disabled list on Tuesday, but instead they will pitch in a simulated game under the watchful eye of pitching coach Dave Eiland.
Manager Ned Yost believes both Collins (flexor strain in left elbow) and Bueno (bruised left pinky) will require stints on minor-league rehabilitation assignments.
“They’re coming along in their development,” Yost said. “We wanted Dave to keep his eyes on them.”
If the pitchers pass Tuesday’s test, they could head to the minors later this week.
“Timmy’s a little ahead of Bueno,” Yost said before his club began a four-game series against the Indians.
Bueno still feels discomfort when he throws his change-up, though he does not experience pain on his fastball or slider.
The loss of Collins and Bueno robbed the Royals of their left-handed relief tandem, and forced them to become creative. After casting about for a few days, they called up top prospect Danny Duffy. In three impressive appearances, Duffy has struck out nine batters and is yet to allow a run.
Yost scoffed when asked if Duffy, who the organization still views as a potential starter, might lose his spot once the duo returns.
“Come on,” Yost said. “You throw the way Danny’s throwing, you think you’re going to get rid of him?”Back in middle
In four games as the Royals’ No. 6 hitter, Billy Butler hit .429 and produced his first extra-base hit of the season. It was enough to move him back into the cleanup spot for Monday’s game.
“We were just doing it until he got settled in a little bit, until he got back on track,” Yost said. “He’s not hitting groundballs like he was. He’s swinging the bat better.”Platoon in center
After three days away on bereavement leave, Jarrod Dyson rejoined the Royals on Monday. The team optioned left-hander Justin Marks back to Class AAA Omaha to make room on the roster. The departure of Marks reduced the Royals’ pitching staff to 12 men.
Dyson started on Monday night. The reason was the opposing pitcher, right-hander Zach McAllister. Yost intends to run a platoon with Dyson, a left-handed hitter, and right-handed hitter Justin Maxwell.
Maxwell carries a .774 on-base plus slugging percentage against lefties in his career, and an .716 OPS against righties. Dyson’s OPS against righties is only .696, but he is considered a more reliable defender than Maxwell, who has played most of his career in the corners.
“Maxie is OK against righties,” Yost said. “But you’ve got Dyson, who can add an element to the game with his speed.”
Cain is eligible to leave the disabled list on May 1. Over the weekend, he received an injection to aid his recovery from a Grade One groin strain. He has not yet resumed baseball activity.
“He seems to think it’s not going to be a long ordeal,” Yost said.