Royals

Royals closer Wade Davis could return Saturday; Lorenzo Cain at ‘85 percent’

Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis is eligible to return from the disabled list on Saturday.
Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis is eligible to return from the disabled list on Saturday. The Associated Press

Royals closer Wade Davis could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Saturday morning, manager Ned Yost said Friday.

Lorenzo Cain’s hamstring might take a little longer.

As the Royals opened the second half of the season on Friday night at Comerica Park, the club also waited on the return of two members of its core. Davis, returning from a forearm strain, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday and could return for the second game against the Tigers.

Cain, rehabbing from a left hamstring strain, was eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday. But Yost indicated he could remain with the team until beginning a brief rehab assignment early next week.

“He’s at about 85 percent right now,” Yost said. “He’s just lacking that last gear.”

Cain’s rehab has progressed to light running, and he appears close to 100 percent in batting practice. But he expressed the desire to exercise caution in his return, saying the hamstring was not where he wanted it to be.

“I could go out there and play at 75 or 80 percent,” Cain said. “I could do it right now. But it’s a hamstring injury. You just never know when I’m going to have to turn it on and go get a fly ball or try to beat something out. So I don’t want to put myself in that situation. … So right now I want to get it 100 percent.”

Cain strained his left hamstring while attempting to beat out a ground ball on June 28. He has missed 13 games since going on the disabled list on June 29. Cain said he would like to complete a rehab assignment of at least two games before returning to the major-league roster. Yost indicated the rehab assignment could start as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Cain said he was willing to miss the upcoming trip to the White House, which is scheduled for Thursday, if it conflicted with rehab games.

“I still haven’t turned it loose yet,” Cain said. “I think once I’m able to do that, and it feels good while doing that, I’ll be ready to go.”

Royals wait on fifth starter

For now the Royals list four starters in their regular rotation, with left-hander Danny Duffy scheduled to start Saturday, followed by Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez. That leaves a hole on Tuesday, when the Royals will play host to the Cleveland Indians.

Yost said Friday that he was still waiting to name a fifth starter for the game. At the moment, the internal options include right-hander Dillon Gee and left-hander Brian Flynn. Veteran Chris Young also remains in the bullpen as a long reliever after being bumped from the rotation before the All-Star break.

“It’s still five days away,” Yost said. “Is that earth-shattering news?”

Hosmer slots into two-spot in the lineup

With Cain on the disabled list and left fielder Alex Gordon entering the second half batting just above .200, the Royals lack options at the top of the lineup.

So on Friday Yost slid first baseman Eric Hosmer into the two-spot in the lineup, behind leadoff man Whit Merrifield. Hosmer may lack the characteristics of a traditional No. 2 hitter, but statistical research on lineup construction has indicated that the No. 2 spot is actually the optimal place for a team’s best hitter. The reason: No. 2 hitters generally get as many RBI opportunities as the No. 3 spot while getting more at-bats.

In the hours before Friday’s game, Yost agreed with the premise — sort of.

“I’m not into all those ideas,” Yost said. “The reason we had (Salvador Perez) hitting two the other day, and the reason we have (Hosmer) hitting two today is because it gives your best hitters that extra at-bat. You want them hitting. That’s the only reason.”

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