Don’t look for outfielder Lorenzo Cain to return any time soon to the Royals’ lineup as he battles to recover from a strained left oblique muscle.
“The report is he’s feeling better,” manager Ned Yost said, “but he’s still feeling some pain when he coughs or sneezes. So it’s still there.”
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Cain received a cortisone shot last Wednesday and remained in Kansas City to undergo treatment while the Royals played a five-game weekend series against first-place Detroit at Comerica Park.
“That’s got four-to-six weeks written all over it,” Cain admitted, “but I’m hoping two weeks. I’m going to be optimistic about it. Hopefully, it’s two weeks, and I’ll be able to get back on the field and help this team.”
Cain suffered the injury on a swing in batting practice prior to the Aug. 9 game against Boston at Kauffman Stadium. His time on the disabled list was backdated to then, which means he is eligible to return next Saturday.
That seems unlikely.
“Right now,” he said, “it’s just wait and see. Even if I take two weeks off, then I have to get back in shape. It will probably take me a few days to get going and get the body moving.”
That suggests a September return, perhaps mid-September, is a best-case scenario.
Cain is batting .261 with four homers and 43 RBIs in 96 games, but his defensive skills, particularly in center field, represent a key loss. His 3.4 WAR (wins above replacement) rating remains the highest on the club.
Yost indicated utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, acquired last Wednesday from Toronto, will likely split time in center field with Jarrod Dyson until Cain returns.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas returned to the bench Sunday after playing Saturday for the first time since suffering a strained left calf last Monday while running the bases in a 6-2 victory over Miami.
Moustakas played six innings Saturday, and went two for three, but was moving at diminished speed before exiting as a precaution. He said he did not aggravate the injury.
“He’s at 75 percent,” Yost said. “What happens is, because the muscle is weakened, it starts to get fatigued and a little bit sore. As the game went on, he was starting to get a little bit sore, so we got him out.”
The quick turnaround to a Sunday afternoon game from Saturday night also played a factor in choosing to start Bonifacio at third base. Further, Yost indicated Moustakas might sit until Wednesday night.
“With an off-day (Monday),” Yost said, “it doesn’t make any sense to try to push him right now. With Chicago coming to town, and a lefty (John Danks) going the first day, we’ll (probably) give him a couple of more days.”
“I’ve got Bonifacio and (Jamey) Carroll who are doing a nice job.”
Many of the Royals will spend their only open date in a 44-day stretch Monday by participating in the Royals Charities Golf Classic at The National Golf Club of Kansas City in Parkville.
It is the sixth annual such event, which is sold out. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics in the Greater Kansas City area.
Among those scheduled to attend are Billy Butler, Jeremy Guthrie, Greg Holland and James Shields. The event begins at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start.
It was 33 years ago Monday — Aug. 19, 1980 — that George Brett’s club-record hitting streak ended at 30 games when he went hitless in three at-bats in a 4-3 victory at Texas.