On Wednesday, for the second night in a row, Alex Rios started in right field for the Royals. Asked whether Rios could be considered the team’s starter at that position, manager Ned Yost declined to hand out such a title. Rios was his starter for the evening. Anything else would be speculation, he said.
“I’m not going to answer questions into the future that I don’t know yet,” Yost said before the Royals’ game against the Minnesota Twins. “We’re still looking at things. We’re looking at three or four different things.”
Rios returned Tuesday after missing nearly two weeks because of the chickenpox. He went hitless in three at-bats. The Royals intend to give him a chance to heat up at the plate during the season’s final month. If Rios does not, the club could turn to other choices like Paulo Orlando, Jarrod Dyson and recent addition Jonny Gomes.
Orlando may be the team’s best overall choice for right field. He owned a .720 on-base plus slugging percentage heading into Wednesday, well ahead of Rios’ .615 OPS. Yost intends to use Dyson as a late-game defender and potential pinch-runner in October. Gomes profiles as an ideal right-handed bat off the bench, capable of punishing left-handed pitchers in a way Rios does not.
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So if Rios does not show signs of improvement, he may be left off the postseason roster. That would conclude a miserable season as a Royal, one for which he will be paid $11 million.
On Aug. 28, Rios arrived at Tropicana Field in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak. He came up empty at the plate that evening, discovered bumps on his chest and back the next day and saw his momentum derailed.
“He was hitting, he was getting back on track really nice when he got the chickenpox,” Yost said. “So you’ve got to see if he can get going again.”