The most productive early-season hitter in the Royals’ lineup is back.
The Royals activated third baseman Hunter Dozier from the 10-day injured list on Friday, returning outfielder Jorge Bonifacio to Class AAA Omaha in a corresponding move.
Dozier is hitting third in the order against Twins starter Martin Perez on Friday, a day after his wife had their second child together, a girl they named Blake.
“I didn’t want to take any more time,” said Dozier, who slept in the hospital overnight. “I knew I might be exhausted today, but I wanted to get back. I wanted to get back playing (and) to get back in a routine.”
The initial two months of the season offered a glimpse of a potential breakthrough year for Dozier. He returns to a .314/.398/.598 slash line with 11 home runs and 12 doubles. Despite missing the past three weeks because of a right oblique strain, Dozier still leads the team with a 2.2 WAR, slightly ahead of leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield.
“It feels good. It’s something I’ll work through, but it feels good,” Dozier said. “I definitely feel good enough to play.”
Dozier went on a rehab stint with Class AA Northwest Arkansas, where he was 5 for 14.
In the interim, the Royals won four of the final five games they played without them.
“I don’t know if you’re noticed — we’ve been doing OK without Dozier,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s going to be nice to have him back, but we’re playing pretty good baseball.”
In his short stint with the Royals this month, Bonifacio batted .350 (7 for 20) with three doubles and three RBI.