Royals left fielder Alex Gordon and second baseman Omar Infante continued to take steps toward returning to the starting lineup.
Infante, who has been dealing with a right elbow injury, will serve as designated hitter in Friday’s exhibition game against Cleveland and likely on Saturday against Cincinnati.
Gordon, who is recovering from offseason surgery on his right wrist, hit soft toss on the field on Thursday after spending the past few days taking swings in the batting cage.
“His progression will jump up to hitting off the coaches in the cage (Friday),” manager Ned Yost said. “He’ll do a couple of days of that, then take it onto the field for a couple of days, and he should be ready to go.”
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When Infante serves as designated hitter, Yost plans to use Kendrys Morales, who was signed as Billy Butler’s replacement, at first base on Friday.
“I’m trying to stay away from playing these guys three days in a row,” Yost said. “We’ll let them play two days … that’s why (Mike Moustakas) didn’t play (Thursday), that’s why (Lorenzo) Cain didn’t play.”
Yost, who fielded a junior varsity team on Thursday, will take most of his regulars to Goodyear, Ariz., for Friday’s game against the Indians.
“I couldn’t play all my guys (Thursday),” Yost said. “I had to balance it out. Omar will DH, Kendrys will play first, then Kendrys will take the day off, and Omar will DH the next day so we get Omar some more at-bats.
“His arm feels much, much better. But we’re early in spring training and have the ability to take it slow. He needs, in my mind, about 15 spring-training games, and we’ll accomplish that easy.”
Yost said the club did not have results from an MRI on pitcher Tim Collins’ injured left elbow.