Lorenzo Cain spent just two days rehabbing his strained hamstring at Class AAA Omaha. The Royals saw enough.
Cain was reinstated from the disabled list Friday in the hours before the Royals faced the Texas Rangers in the second game of a four-game series. In a corresponding roster move, Brett Eibner was optioned back to Omaha, which is currently playing a road series in Round Rock, Texas.
Cain hopped in a car on Friday morning and arrived here in the Dallas metroplex in the early afternoon. He joined his teammates inside the visitors clubhouse at Globe Life Park, lifting the mood inside the room. As the Temptations’ Greatest Hits blasted throughout the clubhouse, Cain made the rounds, shaking hands and offering smiles. The Royals are hopeful the return of an All-Star outfielder and No. 3 hitter will offer some life to a team that has scuffled for much of July.
“It’s great to be back,” Cain said.
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On Friday, Cain started in right field and returned to the No. 3 spot in the batting order. Royals manager Ned Yost said Cain would likely play right field for now, a strategy to ease the stress on his legs.
In two games against Round Rock, Cain finished 3 for 8, with two hits coming in a 4-0 victory on Thursday night. He started in right field in both games.
Cain, 30, was batting .290 with a .336 on-base percentage and eight homers before straining his hamstring in a loss against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 28. The Royals were just 9-16 while Cain was on the disabled list, falling out of the race in the American League Central. The offense has been mired in a sluggish state for most of the month, averaging just 3.44 runs per game with Cain out.
There are other reasons for the inconsistent production. First baseman Eric Hosmer is batting just .202 in July and entered Friday two for his last 32. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales is hitting .192 this month after cooling off from a torrid stretch in early July. Yost is hopeful the return of Cain could have a residual effect in the lineup.
“It’s going to help having Cain back in there (to) take some pressure off those guys,” Yost said. “I think this little streak we started here — I don’t know what the numbers are, but we haven’t played very good since Cain got hurt.”
Cain said on Friday that his left hamstring was not yet 100 percent. He has yet to find his top gear, he said. But the leg felt good while playing 16 innings for Omaha in the last two days. And with the Royals looking for a spark, he was ready to return.
“It’s been a tough season,” Cain said. “It’s just a mental grind throughout the season. We know we’re capable of playing a lot better baseball than we have been.
“I’m just trying to go out there and do what I normally do. I’m going to get on base for these guys and let them drive me in.”