Royals

Ned Yost says he’s open to playing Kendrys Morales in right field in Royals’ interleague games

Could designated hitter Kendrys Morales see time in right field as a way to keep his suddenly potent bat in the lineup? Manager Ned Yost said Tuesday he hasn’t ruled it out as his team prepares for five games under National League rules in St. Louis against the Cardinals and Philadelphia against the Phillies.
Could designated hitter Kendrys Morales see time in right field as a way to keep his suddenly potent bat in the lineup? Manager Ned Yost said Tuesday he hasn’t ruled it out as his team prepares for five games under National League rules in St. Louis against the Cardinals and Philadelphia against the Phillies. jsleezer@kcstar.com

The creative and experimental side of Royals manager Ned Yost surfaced again this week as he prepared for five straight days of National League baseball.

The Royals will open a two-game set at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Wednesday before heading to Philadelphia for a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. For five games, they will lose the services of designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who is finally heating up after a sluggish start in April and May.

So could designated hitter Kendrys Morales see time in right field as a way to keep his suddenly potent bat in the lineup? Yost said Tuesday he hasn’t ruled it out.

“It’s always an option,” Yost said.

On its face, the idea may seem like a stretch. But this is not the first time Yost has pondered such a move. Last September, the Royals toyed with the idea of using Morales in the outfield as a way to keep his bat in the lineup during the postseason. The gambit was never used, but Yost insists it is not as crazy as it may sound.

Morales, 33, played center field as a young prospect in his native Cuba, but he played little outfield after he arrived in the United States. He added bulk to his 6-foot-1 frame. A freakish leg injury with the Angels in 2010 took away whatever remained of his speed.

Yet Yost believes Morales’ thick frame hides his true athleticism. Morales impressed the coaching staff during late-season workouts last September. He projects as a better option in right field than first baseman Eric Hosmer, who has experimented in the outfield on the occasion and has found little comfort. In short, Yost believes Morales’ defense could be somewhere in the vicinity of serviceable, allowing him to keep his bat in the lineup and give right fielder Paulo Orlando a day off.

For now, the scenario remains unlikely. But Yost said it would likely be a better option in Philadelphia, where the outfield dimensions are smaller.

“I haven’t ruled it out,” Yost said.

If the Royals do not use Morales in the outfield, he is likely looking at five days of pinch-hitting duty. For the Royals, the timing is suboptimal.

Yost has long been a proponent of using consistent rules during interleague games. He believes American League teams have a distinct disadvantage while playing in National League Parks. As the Royals prepare to play five straight games under National League rules, he repeated his stance.

“I’m not all for the National League dropping and accepting the DH,” Yost said. “That’s their rules, but when we play these interleague games, it’s to the advantage of both teams to have a DH. If you don’t, it’s a disadvantage to the American League team, because our pitchers don’t hit all the time. … I just think that would make more sense.”

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