In a little more than a week, the Royals can expand their rosters for September call-ups. Teams often use this period to reward minor-leaguers for quality performance. Manager Ned Yost indicated his club cannot trifle with congratulatory assignments.
"We’re looking for specifics," Yost said. "Maybe guys that can come up and pinch-run. Maybe a bat off the bench if we need it. We’re not just going to bring up a bunch of guys to bring up a bunch of guys. We’re going to bring up guys that can fill a need."
The "bench bat" could be a variety of people. Francisco Pena will likely receive a call-up, as he is on the 40-man roster, plays catcher and has hit 26 homers for Class AAA Omaha. Carlos Peguero is not on the 40-man roster, but he has thumped 13 homers in August with a preposterous .972 slugging percentage. The team could find ways to make room for a hitter like that.
They could also do the same for Terrance Gore. Gore is a 23-year-old former 20th round pick. He has played 12 games above Class A. And he could be a vital contributor for the Royals in the season’s final month. He possesses blazing speed. In four minor-league seasons, he has stolen 166 bases in 183 attempts, good for a 91-percent success rate.
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"Could be the fastest guy in baseball," Yost said, and assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told The Star’s Pete Grathoff that Gore is faster than Reds rookie speedster Billy Hamilton.
The presence of Gore matters because, in essence, Jarrod Dyson has played himself out of that role. Yost used to like using Dyson as a pinch runner. But now Dyson starts a couple times a week. In late-game situations, he enters as a defensive replacement for right fielder Nori Aoki.
"In these tight games, we put out best defense out there," Yost said. "That takes him out of the eighth, ninth-inning pinch-running spot. If we’re behind we’ve got him. But we don’t plan on being behind too much."
So by adding Gore – or perhaps Lane Adams, another fleet-footed outfielder who is actually on the 40-man – Yost would reclaim that element. He said he could use a pinch-runner in situations for players like Billy Butler, Salvador Perez, Josh Willingham, Raul Ibanez, Mike Moustakas and even Alex Gordon.
"We don’t have that guy right now," Yost said.
In a week, the Royals may.
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