The Royals’ right-field picture became a little hazier Wednesday after Jarrod Dyson strained his right oblique against the Texas Rangers in the teams’ Cactus League opener.
Dyson became the first injury casualty of spring training when he sustained the injury in his first at-bat in the bottom of the second. Royals manager Ned Yost said Dyson underwent an MRI on Wednesday afternoon, but in the moments after the Royals’ 6-2 loss, it appeared his recovery could be measured in weeks rather than days.
“It could be,” Yost said. “Again, we’ll find out exactly what it is, and we’ll know tomorrow. We’re looking at a couple weeks, minimum, I would suspect.”
Dyson started the game in right field and was replaced by nonroster invitee Travis Snider in the top of the third. Dyson did not speak to reporters after leaving the game early. The recovery time for a strained oblique can take up to six weeks, depending on the severity.
The injury served to cloud a right-field situation that is in transition after the departure of Alex Rios. Dyson, who has spent the last six seasons as a part-time weapon off the bench, entered camp as a favorite to earn more playing time in 2016. As the Royals arrived in Arizona, Yost hinted at using a right-field platoon that would include the left-handed hitting Dyson and the right-handed hitting Paulo Orlando.
In the short term, the injury to Dyson could reshape the right-field competition, creating more playing time for a group of outfielders that includes Snider, Brett Eibner, Reymond Fuentes, Jose Martinez and former first-round pick Bubba Starling.
The Royals possess depth at the position. Snider, 27, is a former top prospect who posted .776 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for the Pirates as recently as 2014. He scuffled last season, batting .232 with four homers while splitting time with Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Martinez, 27, is a journeyman who put up a blistering season last year at Class AAA Omaha, batting .382 with 10 homers in 102 games. Eibner, 27, is a former second-round pick who re-established himself as a prospect in 2015 with a sterling performance. He mashed at spring training, then put up a solid season at Class AAA Omaha. His skillset has caught the eye of his manager.
“It’s just a combination of power and speed and athleticism and his ability to play above-average defense,” Yost said Wednesday morning. “I’m intrigued about him.
“But we’ll see how it plays. Quite frankly, I’ve been very impressed with Snider. And I know Paulo and Dyson; both of those guys have come in and been very impressive early. I’ve been impressed with Martinez. I like what I see out of him.”
For now, the Royals must wait and see. But club officials could be bracing for a spring with Dyson on the mend.
“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Yost said.