Ned Yost media session: August 26, 2014

The Royals will look to rebound from their first two-game losing streak since the end of July when the club welcomes division foe Minnesota to Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday evening. Kansas City will be looking to some newer faces for contributions as the club tries to stay hot.

The Royals will be without the services of Omar Infante, Nori Aoki, and Yordano Ventura for some or all of the upcoming series.

For Aoki, his absence in the lineup is due to an increased production from fellow-outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

“We’re going with the hot hand right now,” said manager Ned Yost. “Dyson’s been getting two hits a game and Nori’s been in a little bit of a slump. But we’ll get Nori back in there in the next day or so. Just giving him a little bit of a breather and trying to get some offense from the top of the order. Nori’s been really, really good for us since the start of the second half. He’s done a great job for us. He’s just run into a little bit a slump right now, so we’re going to ride Dyson’s hot hand for another day or two.”

Infante will be missing in action as a result of shoulder inflammation and will be replaced in the lineup by Christian Colon.

“Omar has been dealing with this for two or three weeks,” said Yost. “It’s just gotten to a point now where let’s just see if we can give him a couple of days. And the good thing about it is, we feel real comfortable that we’ve got Christian Colon that can handle the position. So it gives us the ability to get some of that inflammation out of there over the next couple of the days and then finish the year out strong.”

Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura will miss his next start, scheduled for Wednesday, due to mid-back tightness. In his stead, the Royals will look to Liam Hendriks, who has pitched at Triple-A Omaha since being acquired from Toronto with Erik Kratz in exchange for Danny Valencia. Hendriks has posted a 4-1 mark, 35 strikeouts to six walks, and a 2.83 ERA in five starts with the Storm Chasers.

“After his last start, he started experiencing some mid-back tightness and soreness,” said Yost. “It’s gotten better over the last couple of days, but it’s something that we don’t really want to push. Could he pitch tomorrow? Probably, maybe. But as a precaution, we think it’s smart just to go ahead and bang him one start and go from there.”

Yost said the organization prefers to exercise caution when it comes to the health of either of its younger starters.

“I think you’re more cautious with guys like Ventura and Duffy than I would be with Vargas and Shields,” he said. “Back when we had our heyday in Atlanta, Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, they dealt with all kinds of issues. Bicep tendonitis, shoulder tendonitis. These guys were veteran pitchers, they knew how to get through these things. But the younger guys, you know, until they get themselves more established, you kind of guard them a little bit more. Especially when you’ve got somebody as good as Ventura, and as good as Duffy. These guys are going to be the cornerstones of our pitching rotation for years to come.”

With just 32 games remaining and the Royals leading the American League Central by 1.5 games, Yost said the physical grind of the dog days of summer has turned equally mental as the club enters the stretch run.

“It’s as much a mental grind, because you have to really stay focused,” said Yost. “Every pitch matters and you know it. You have to stay positive. You have to really train yourself to focus day-to-day and not worry about anything that’s going on tomorrow, not really worry too much about other teams, knowing that right now, we’re in the driver’s seat and if we take care of business we’re going to be fine. There is stress that goes along with it. The grind now is every bit as mental as it is physical.”

By Kolby Paxton


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