Wade Davis is back. So are Whit Merrifield, Terrance Gore and Tony Cruz.
Hunter Dozier is up for the first time, in a playoff chase no less.
“These are all playoff games the rest of the year,” Dozier said. “I’ll do anything I can to help.”
Baseball rosters expand in September and the Royals made strategic additions. They added speed with Gore and versatility with Merrifield and Dozier, who has mostly played third base in his minor-league career, but he also logged innings at first base and the outfield for Class AAA Omaha.
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“With the addition of those guys we have a lot of options,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We don’t want guys just to be here. What’s going to help us? We need guys to cover scenarios.”
As an example, Yost said he could pinch run Gore for third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and have Dozier ready to play the position.
Hours before Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium, Dozier took fielding tips from Mike Moustakas, the regular third baseman who is out for the season recovering from a knee injury.
Dozier, the Royals’ first-round selection in 2013 (eighth overall), was hitting .294 with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 103 games at Omaha this season. He opened the season at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, where he hit .305 with eight home runs in 21 games.
Davis’ return is a welcome sight for the Royals not only for his excellence — he logged 21 saves and a 1.60 ERA in 35 appearances before being sidelined on July 31 because of a right flexor strain — but the timing. Even though the Royals were off Thursday, they coming off consecutive bullpen-draining extra-inning losses.
The Royals bullpen did yeoman’s work during the team’s 20-9 August and its 3.06 ERA for the season is baseball’s best for relief pitchers.
“Everybody has been throwing a lot and they’ve been throwing well,” Davis said. “It’s been fun to watch.”
Merrifield, a utility player, made his major-league debut with the Royals this season, hitting .271 with two home runs in 53 games.
Gore, an outfielder, opened the season with the Royals and played in four games in April. Cruz, a catcher, made his Royals debut on June 4 and played in two other games.
To make room for Dozier on the 40-man roster, the Royals transferred relief pitcher Luke Hochevar to the 60-day disabled list. Hochevar underwent thoracic outlet surgery on Aug. 2.