Royals’ Lorenzo Cain answers call in leadoff spot

06/29/2014 7:25 PM

06/29/2014 8:46 PM

With Nori Aoki sidelined with a groin injury, the Royals were left searching for a new leadoff man. After just seven games in the spot, it appears they have found one in outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

Cain went four for five on Sunday in the Royals’ 5-4 walk-off victory against the Los Angeles Angels. That matched his career high for the fourth time this season and first since May 26 against Houston. Not only was he getting hits, but three of them were doubles (a career best), including a two-run knock in the fourth inning.

The performance raised his average to .367 in the leadoff spot where he is 11 for 30 dating to June 22 against Seattle. In that span he also has four runs and five RBIs.

“It’s going great so far,” Cain said. “I’m trying to get on base as much as possible so the guys behind me can drive me in. I’m just trying to do my part right now.”

After a first-inning communication error with Jarrod Dyson in right-center field led to the Angels’ second run, Cain led off with a single to left field. While he ended up getting caught in a force out to end the inning, that was just the beginning of his day.

He got on base again in the third with a double down the right field line and then provided his game-tying double in the fourth — this time to left field.

“He has done a really great job in that spot,” manager Ned Yost said. “He is swinging the bat really well.”

Yost said part of the key to his success has been his ability to stay within himself and not try to overthink his new role.

“I told him I didn’t want you changing a thing,” Yost said. “I want you staying exactly the way you were in the six spot or seven spot when you were hitting the ball and driving it into the gaps.”

So far, it has worked for him and he has improved his season average to a team-high .322 which includes a .376 mark with runners in scoring position.

To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to kgier@kcstar.com.

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