When Dyson returns, will Lough or Francoeur be odd man out?
Impending return of Jarrod Dyson will force Royals to make a tough roster decision
By JEFFREY FLANAGANFS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – At some point very soon, perhaps even today, the Royals are likely to activate outfielder Jarrod Dyson from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha.
And that, of course, means the Royals will have to make a subsequent roster move to make space for Dyson, a speedy and valuable weapon in the Royals' offense.
Perhaps the easy move would be to simply send outfielder
David Lough back down since he still has options.
But that might not sit well with a fan base that has become increasingly smitten with Lough, partly because of his speed in the outfield and partly because he is, well, not
Francoeur, a fan favorite two years ago, has fallen out of favor with fans the last season and a half because of his continued struggles at the plate -- .211 average, .247 on-base percentage this season.
But is general manager Dayton Moore ready to pull the plug on Francoeur, who is in the last year of his contract?
It certainly would be a bold move for an organization still convinced that Francoeur's arm in right field is an asset. The organization also remains convinced that Francoeur serves a valuable leadership role in the clubhouse.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Moore said last week of the potential roster move with Dyson.
Lough is doing his best to make the decision more difficult. He has made several solid defensive plays in the outfield, plays that have offset a couple of defensive mishaps as well.
"My job is to make their decision even harder," Lough told FOXSportsKansasCity.com. "If I do my job right and help the team win, then maybe it becomes a harder decision."
And if Lough were Moore or manager Ned Yost, how would he evaluate his own play so far?
"Oh, man, that's a tough question," Lough said, smiling. "Hopefully, they say that he's a player, and that he works hard at everything and tries to help the team win at any aspect whether it's offense or defense. I don't know exactly what they're thinking, to be honest. I just try to play my game."
With the big roster move forthcoming, Lough said he is trying to keep his focus on the field.
"It doesn't play into my head," he said. "Whatever move they make will be done because it's best for the team. That's how you have to look at it.
"It's definitely a tough move for them. But that's always the case in the major leagues when you just have 25 spots. But like I said, whatever move they make, it will be best for the team."
Offensively, Lough has at times provided a spark, hitting .279 with four doubles, two triples and seven RBIs in 18 games – certainly numbers that compare favorably to Francoeur, who has just 12 RBIs in 51 games.
But Lough has made mistakes, too. He has failed at times at situational hitting, he committed a huge error in Oakland that led to a defeat, and he reacted slowly on a hit-and-run single last week against the Twins that allowed a runner to score from first.
Lough, however, said he hasn't gotten down on himself for either mistake.
"Not really," he said. "I wouldn't criticize myself for that. Every mistake you make you learn from it and mistakes are going to happen. It makes you better as a player.
"Ultimately, you just have to trust your instincts out there and keep learning. And I just want to keep playing and keep learning."
And Royals fans are hoping he'll keep getting that education at the big-league level.
"It's always nice to hear that support from the fans," he said. "I try to play the game right and hopefully they appreciate that."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.