Ned Yost loathes altering his lineup. He finds the practice meddlesome and burdensome on his players, and “creates a bunch of different tensions that you don’t need to deal with,” he said Thursday.
Yost does not want his Royals to enter the clubhouse each afternoon wondering where they will bat. So Eric Hosmer walked to his locker Thursday still installed in the No. 3 hole, even as he combats a horrible three-week skid.
In his last 22 games, heading into the I-70 Series finale against the Cardinals, Hosmer was hitting .174 with a .443 on-base plus slugging percentage. He had struck out 21 times, walked four times and managed only five extra-base hits. Adam Wainwright bulldozed him for four strikeouts on Wednesday, wiping out any momentum Hosmer had gained with his go-ahead hit on Tuesday at Busch Stadium.
At the same time, Alex Gordon has started to come alive. He doubled and walked twice against St. Louis, boosting his OPS to .983 over the same 22-game stretch in which Hosmer cratered. Yet Gordon was till batting fifth; Hosmer was batting third.
Logic suggests crafting a lineup in which Gordon bats more often than Hosmer would be beneficial. Except Yost was dismissive of even the suggestion they could be flipped.
“It’s a big deal to the people who want to talk about stuff,” he said. “It doesn’t make that big of a deal on the context of the game.”
He added, “It doesn’t change things. It doesn’t all of a sudden make something happen.”
Yost was not always this assured. As a coach on Bobby Cox’s Atlanta staff in the 1990s, he received some advice.
“Somebody was really struggling, like Hoz was struggling, for 11, 12 days,” Yost said. “And I said, ‘Bobby, when do you move a player down?’ He goes, ‘What I do, when I’m thinking about moving a player down,’ he goes, ‘I get to that point, and I wait another week.’ ”
Yost considered that lesson instructive. He does not appear close to starting that weeklong countdown with Hosmer. He refused to even concede Hosmer looked overmatched at the plate at times.
“He doesn’t need a mental day off,” Yost said. “He’s not grinding. He’s just not producing. He feels good. He feels confident.”
Chen’s weekend job
Bruce Chen (bulging disk in lower back) will make his second rehab start Sunday with Class AAA Omaha. He expects to throw about 60 pitches, and thinks he will need one more appearance after that before he can rejoin the big-league club.
Aoki takes another hit
Outfielder Nori Aoki indicated he felt fine after Thursday’s game, despite yet another freakish collision with a baseball. Midway through Aoki’s first at-bat, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina hit him in the head with a throw back to the mound.
Aoki fell to the ground, but stayed in the game. He roped an RBI double in their sixth-inning comeback.
He was able to laugh afterward. In the past two weeks, he has been hit by a pitch that he swung at, and absorbed a foul ball in the groin.