Yost didn't want to, but he has shaken up the Royals' batting order
With leadoff man Nori Aoki on the DL and the Royals' offense inconsistent, manager Ned Yost decided it was time to juggle his lineup. Welcome to the top of the order, LoCain -- and we'll catch up with you a bit farther down the line, Omar.
Lorenzo Cain has moved to the top of the Royals' order, while Omar Infante is now slotted sixth.
Denny Medley - Peter G. Aiken / USA TODAY Sports
By Jeffrey FlanaganFOX Sports Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Royals skipper Ned Yost never has been all that big on lineup construction.
In his perfect world, he'd set his players in a certain spot in the order, keep them there the whole season, and then simply sit back and watch them produce.
But the gnawing inconsistencies that plague the Royals' offense are forcing Yost out of his comfort zone. On Monday he juggled his batting order.
The changes were subtle, to be sure.
But with the Nori Aoki injury, Yost needed a new leadoff man. Enter Lorenzo Cain.
Eric Hosmer, the batter Yost insists will be his No. 3 hitter this season, was bumped up to the No. 2 spot.
And Omar Infante, whom Yost figured all offseason would be a staple at No. 2, was pushed down to the No. 6 spot.
Essentially, the middle of the order then just moved up a spot.
Moving Cain from the No. 7 spot all the way to leadoff was an easy call, Yost said.
"Cain has had a tremendous on-base (percentage) the last three weeks and only scored eight runs," Yost said. "We want to try to get him on base (at the top) so he can score more."
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"Omar is one of our better run producers and he hasn't had many opportunities to take advantage of that," Yost said. "So we want to put Omar behind the three guys who have been getting on base -- Billy (Butler), Alex (Gordon) and Sal (Perez) -- to see if Omar can drive them in.
"Traditionally, you look at Omar's numbers in the six, seven or eight spot in the lineup and his numbers are really good. He gives you a professional at-bat with runners in scoring position. He understands what he needs to do in those spots and we want to try to take more advantage of that experience."
Infante's career numbers show that he does hit better down in the order. In fact, hitting seventh, not sixth, is where Infante has excelled the most -- a .310/.349/.460 slash line.
Yost also is eager, obviously, to jump-start the struggling Hosmer.
"When we moved him up to second last year, he took off," Yost said. "He's like .220 over his last 100 at-bats, but he's a guy who can hit .360 over his next 100 at-bats."
Actually, Hosmer's splits from last season were virtually identical from the No. 2 spot or No. 3 spot. Hitting second, Hosmer hit .313 with eight homers and an .859 OPS. Hitting third, Hosmer hit .322 with eight homers and an .853 OPS.
Still, Yost said he figures the move could ignite Hosmer into a hot streak, especially if Cain can get on base, which would allow Yost to employ a running game and open up infield holes for Hosmer.
To that regard, though, Yost doesn't want to see Cain necessarily taking more pitches or changing his approach in an effort to walk more.
"No, I don't want him to change anything," Yost said. "I think he's doing fine.
"He can hit the ball as hard as anyone we got. You watch him ... when he squares a ball up, it's vicious. He doesn't have a lot of loft to his swing, so he hits a lot of line drives, but he'll learn to get some loft as he goes on.
"And I don't mind having a little power at the top."
The overall objective remains the same.
"Just trying to see if we can't score some runs," Yost said.