The undefeated Royals suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday morning when the club announced that an X-ray discovered a nondisplaced fracture of right fielder Alex Rios’ left pinky.
The team placed Rios on the 15-day disabled list and added Terrance Gore to the roster before Wednesday’s game against the Twins.
The fracture occurred when Twins reliever J.R. Graham hit Rios with a 93-mph fastball in the eighth inning of Monday’s 12-3 Royals romp. Rios became the 12th Royals player hit by a pitch this season. He is the first to deal with long-term consequences.
The Royals did not announce a timetable for Rios’ return. General manager Dayton Moore indicated that the team would have a better sense after seeing how Rios responds to at least a week of rehabilitation.
“I think it would be a little careless to put six weeks on it,” Moore said in a telephone interview. “And maybe a little premature to be two to three weeks on it. I think it’s somewhere in between.”
Rios produced for the Royals in the season’s first week. He hit .321 with an .809 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and drove in eight runs. Now more responsibility shifts to his teammates, including outfielder Alex Gordon, who has one hit in 16 at-bats this season.
The Royals will likely utilize their bench to replace Rios. Moore and manager Ned Yost will continue discussions on the subject, but the most likely scenario involves a platoon of left-handed veteran Jarrod Dyson and right-handed rookie Paulo Orlando.
With Dyson and Orlando, Moore explained, the club would maintain its strong outfield defense.
“We’re fortunate to have some depth,” Moore said. “Jarrod Dyson’s been a productive player for us. Certainly Paulo’s had some big moments in the first week. They’re both going to bring terrific defense and speed.”
One player who did not receive consideration for a call-up is outfield prospect Brett Eibner. He surged back onto the fan base’s radar with a sterling spring. Eibner swatted six home runs, and stayed hot to start the regular season. He has doubled twice and homered once in three games for Class AAA Omaha.
But Eibner is not on the 40-man roster, which is full. The organization would like him to receive more seasoning in the minors before he merits a promotion.
“Brett had a terrific spring,” Moore said. “He’s expected to have a terrific year, and hopefully factor in at some point in time. But right now we’re going to go with Dyson and Paulo, and give them the opportunity. We feel that they’re really going to help us. We’ll just continue to evaluate, day-to-day, week-to-week, to see where we are.”
The Royals have yet to call up a player to replace Alex Rios on the 25-man active major-league roster, but his replacement in the field is probably already on the roster. A look at the possibilities:
▪ Jarrod Dyson, a left-handed hitting veteran speedster who was a late-inning defensive replacement last season, could likely form a platoon with …
▪ Right-handed hitting rookie Paulo Orlando, who tripled for each of his first three hits in the major leagues.
▪ Terrance Gore, the base-stealing phenom of last year’s playoffs, is on the Royals’ 40-man roster and could be called up from Class AA Northwest Arkansas. He was pulled out of a Northwest Arkansas’ game on Tuesday afternoon.