The circumstances that led to Royals manager Ned Yost’s first ejection in 2014 started with a case of auditory disagreement.
In the ninth inning of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Baltimore, with runners at the corners and the outcome in peril, Greg Holland flung a slider that missed the bat of Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. Except home-plate umpire Chris Segal called it a foul tip, believing he heard Jones make contact.
Yost disagreed, and his stance was vehement. He insisted the noise Segal heard stemmed from the pitch bouncing off the plate. An argument ensued. Yost lost and earned an early ticket to his own clubhouse.
“Adam Jones is too good a hitter to give a second chance after striking out,” Yost said. He added, “That could have been the difference between us winning and losing a ballgame.”
Holland managed to hold the line. As his manager raged, Holland waited on the mound for another chance.
“You’re amped up,” Holland said. “You’re trying to control your emotions. You think get a guy, and you’re like ‘Oh, wait. I didn’t.’”
Two pitches later, he did. Jones swung through another slider to strike out. There was still one out left to procure. Holland walked Chris Davis, then pumped a 96-mph fastball past Nelson Cruz to escape.
Infante resting back
Royals second baseman Omar Infante is eligible to return from the disabled list on Thursday, but his return to baseball activity has been gradual. Infante played catch before Saturday’s game against the Orioles; he has yet to do anything more extensive.
Manager Ned Yost declined to say when Infante might be available.
“We’ll figure it out,” Yost said. “We’ve got to see where he’s at first. He’s feeling much better.”
Infante received a cortisone shot on Monday for back spasms and inflammation in his lower back. The shots often take several days to course through a patient’s system.
Yost does not know if Infante will require a rehabilitation assignment. But he does not expect it would be a lengthy one.
“I don’t think he’s really feeling much of anything right now,” Yost said. “We’re just letting that shot take full effect before we get back and start taking groundballs. It’s not like it’s been a month.
“He’ll get right back to taking groundballs. We’ll see if he needs some at-bats. That’s the only thing he’s going to need.”
With Infante out, the Royals moved shortstop Alcides Escobar into the No. 2 spot in the batting order for Saturday night. The offense has stagnated, and Escobar has been one of their few productive hitters.
“Esky’s been swinging the bat really well,” Yost said. “We decided we’d give it a try. See if we can get something going.”
Perez’s day off
Brett Hayes started at catcher on Saturday, but the decision wasn’t related to Salvador Perez’s collision with the knee of Orioles third baseman Manny Machado on Thursday. Perez strained his neck, but stayed in the game.
Yost insisted he was not dealing with any lingering symptoms. He just wanted Perez to catch Sunday’s series finale with James Shields.
“Do you think I’m going to play him 162 games?” Yost said.
Bruce Chen (bulging disk in lower back) threw a more intense bullpen session on Saturday afternoon. He threw 20 pitches.
Chen will travel with this team next week to Anaheim, but he is still far from a rehabilitation assignment.
“I don’t imagine it’s going to be in the next four, five, six, seven days” that he takes a mound in a minor-league game, Yost said.