Royals left-hander Danny Duffy escaped a pivotal jam in the sixth inning of a 4-1 victory over Seattle on Sunday. His presence was required, in part, because right-hander Luke Hochevar was unavailable with what the Royals are calling “elbow tightness.”
The issue, manager Ned Yost said, surfaced after Hochevar threw a scoreless inning in the Royals’ 1-0 loss on Friday night at Safeco Field. Hochevar was also sidelined in Saturday’s loss. But Sunday was the first time his availability became an issue — and public.
“He’s got a little tightness in his elbow,” Yost said after the victory. “So out of precaution, we wanted to give him the day and see how he feels tomorrow. We weren’t going to use him today.”
Hochevar, 32, has posted a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings across 11 appearances this season. He has racked up 11 strikeouts against just three walks. Two of those walks came on Friday, in his last appearance before the Royals shut him down for the rest of the series.
Yost emphasized that Hochevar was just “day to day.” The Royals will re-evaluate his status today before opening a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at Kauffman Stadium.
Hochevar does have an injury history with his right elbow, undergoing Tommy John surgery to replace a damaged ulnar collateral ligament before the 2014 season. He missed all of that year before returning in 2015.
“It’s more precaution than anything else,” Yost said. “We want to make sure we don’t do anything rash.”
Dyson tallies another assist
Right fielder Jarrod Dyson recorded his third outfield assist in 11 games Sunday, throwing out Seattle’s Robinson Cano at home plate with two outs in the sixth inning.
The throw ended a key threat. And for the moment, it appears opponents have not taken notice of Dyson’s throwing ability. Dyson is in his first season playing regular duty in right field. Cano tested Dyson on a sharp single that was fielded in shallow right field.
“I hope they never get the memo, if you ask me,” Dyson said.
Dyson’s previous two assists came at second base and third base, respectively. He threw out Detroit’s Jose Iglesias at second base during a series at Kauffman Stadium. He cut down the Angels’ Kole Calhoun earlier in the road trip.
“He’s deceiving with his arm,” manager Yost said. “They look at a little guy — speed guy. But he’s got a right fielder’s arm out there, and he comes up and makes very strong throws and accurate throws. That was a big one there.”
Gordon fighting through slump
Left fielder Alex Gordon broke an 0-for-13 skid with a single on Sunday. He finished 1 for 3 while getting hit by a pitch. His season average raised to .213 after a sluggish April.
Earlier in the day, Yost described the slump as cyclical. Gordon has a history of hot and cold streaks, he said. For now, the Royals are waiting for Gordon to emerge from his current trend.
“It just seems like, over the years, when he’s cold, he’s cold,” Yost said. “But then he’ll get hot as a firecracker.”