The throw came in this same ballpark a mere 19 months ago, a laser beam from left-center field that cut down the Angels’ Collin Cowgill at third base. The throw preserved a 1-1 tie in Game 2 of the 2014 American League Division Series. The throw came from the right arm of Jarrod Dyson, whose body type belies such strength. At 5 feet 10 and 165 pounds, Dyson does not profile as a man who would possess such a howitzer.
But on Monday night at Angel Stadium, Dyson flashed his arm once more, throwing out Kole Calhoun from right field on a play at third base. The moment harkened back to October of 2014.
“I guess they see a small guy out there, they don’t think much of it,” Dyson said. “If I see a small guy out there, I wouldn’t think much of it, either.”
As Dyson settles into regular playing time in right field, the rest of baseball may need to take notice. Entering Tuesday night, Dyson had racked up two outfield assists in seven games, and he could have recorded another had a run-down been turned into an out. On the whole, Dyson has displayed a solid arm and above-average range since returning from an oblique strain last week. His defensive value could make him a constant in the Royals’ lineup.
Royals manager Ned Yost has described his right field position as a “loose platoon” between Dyson and Paulo Orlando. But on Tuesday, Dyson was in the starting lineup for the eighth straight day.
“You got to hit, too,” Yost said of the right field position. “But we put a real premium on defense. It’s important for us to play sound defensive baseball.”
In the offseason, the Royals re-signed Alex Gordon to a four-year, $72 million contract to return to left field and then targeted Dyson to replace starting right fielder Alex Rios, who became a free agent after the 2015 season. After years of excelling in a bench role, Dyson entered spring training as the favorite to win the starting job in right field, a position he had played sparingly during his first six seasons in the big leagues. Entering 2016, Dyson had logged just 17 games in right field — all of which came last season. He hadn’t spent regular time in right field since playing at Southwest Mississippi Community College.
“It’s a big difference,” Dyson said.
So far, the adjustment has gone smoothly. Dyson has displayed his superior range in right field, tracking down balls in deep right field and in foul territory. He has also utilized his arm.
“He’s been doing that since he got here,” Yost said. “We always knew he had a right-field arm. For a little guy, he’s got an above-average arm, and he’s really accurate with it.”
Cain could receive day off
Yost said Tuesday that he was pondering giving center fielder Lorenzo Cain his first day off on Wednesday, in the final game of a three-game series in Anaheim. The Royals have an day off on Thursday, meaning the struggling Cain could get two days off to recharge entering a weekend series at Seattle.
The plan, Yost said, was largely dependent on Cain’s play on Tuesday night. Cain entered the second game of the series batting just .200 (10 for 70) in 19 games.
“The last couple of Sundays, we were thinking about giving him off days, but he didn’t want them,” Yost said. “He wanted to play, which was good. He wants to continue to battle through it. But we’ll see how things go tonight. We might give him one tomorrow.”