For the past two days, Royals outfielder Alex Rios has been taking swings off a tee to test the broken bone in his left hand. Rios has been swinging a fungo bat, which is lighter and places less stress on his hand. Each swing still causes discomfort, a sensation Rios expects to manage when he returns in the coming weeks.
“The pain is still there,” Rios said before the Royals faced the Rangers, his former club, at Globe Life Park. “That’s what we’re dealing with right now.”
The route back to the majors is a tedious one. His hand was broken by a fastball April 13 in Minnesota. He is still a couple weeks away from rejoining the Royals.
Manager Ned Yost expects Rios will require a minor league rehabilitation assignment to acclimate to live pitching. He could be ready by the end of May or early June.
“He’s making strides,” Yost said.
In the coming weeks, Rios will have to graduate to stages like taking indoor batting practice and then hitting outside. These tasks are on the horizon.
Rios undergoes daily treatment to aid his hand. He has begun strengthening and mobility exercises. He can play catch.
Rios understands the discomfort when he swings will not go away immediately and is preparing for it to be part of his daily routine of preparation.
“I’m going to have to play with pain — I don’t know if I would say throughout the season, but I’m going to have to deal with that,” Rios said. “I’m OK if it’s manageable. I’m OK with that.”
The offense could use Rios’ bat. Neither Jarrod Dyson nor Paulo Orlando can match the output expected from Rios. Orlando entered Wednesday night’s game hitting .167 in May, having cooled off after a triple-laden start.
Dyson has been even less successful. His .528 on-base plus slugging percentage heading into Wednesday was the lowest of his career. The mark resided 122 points below his career average and 123 points below his OPS in 2014.
Yost indicated Dyson has been trying to reach base by bunting but has seen little in the way of results.
“He’s been bunting quite a bit,” Yost said. “I think he’s been bunting more (than in 2014). He just hasn’t been successful at it.”