Healthy and happy three games into the season, center fielder Lorenzo Cain is giving the Royals the kind of lift they need in 2014.
Cain had a key two-run single, two hits in all, and chipped in a couple of highlight-reel catches in Friday’s 7-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He has hit in all three games this season and has brought consistency to the bottom of the batting order.
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While the Royals’ No. 7 hitter (Mike Moustakas) and No. 9 hitter (Alcides Escobar) are a combined zero for 23 so far in 2014, Cain is batting .333 with three RBIs from the No. 8 spot.
“I’m trying to do what I can to help the team in the bottom of the lineup,” Cain said. “Anyway I can contribute, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Last season was the first time the Royals got a real look at the potential star they have in Cain. Now the question is whether he can stay healthy long enough to shine for an extended period.
His early career was marred by a litany of core and leg injuries that resulted in some substantial lost time. But he played in a career-high 115 games last year, nearly twice as many as he had the previous season, and along the way hit .292 with 54 runs scored and 46 RBIs.
“He plays Gold Glove outfield. He can hit, and he can drive the ball,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “When you’re young and you come up (to the big leagues), you want to be the hero and make every single play. But I think he definitely has a good idea of how to stay healthy now, and we have confidence that he will this year.”
Toward that end, Cain spent the offseason stretching and strengthening his legs in preparation for what he hopes will be his first full year in the majors.
“My only goal is to stay healthy the entire season,” Cain said. “That’s the only goal I say every day — to stay healthy and let my numbers, whatever they may be at the end of the season, take care of themselves.”