Gordon drops to No. 3 in Royals' order
Left fielder has been club's primary leadoff man this season
KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon, after 81 starts as the Royals' leadoff batter this season, is moving into the third slot.
"He's been good, but I think he'll be comfortable in the three," manager Ned Yost said. "In projecting long-term lineups, he'd be a guy that'd be in the middle of the order. We've struggled with production in that spot a little bit and we've got guys now I'm a little more comfortable with in the leadoff spot in [Jarrod] Dyson, [Lorenzo] Cain and [Chris] Getz."
Gordon has produced in the No. 1 spot. Since moving back there to stay on May 27, he had a .334 (97-for-290) average with a Major League-best 27 doubles. His on-base percentage of .379 for the season is fourth-highest among American League leadoff batters.
"He's not going to make a switch without letting me know, so [Wednesday] night after the game he called me in and asked me if I was OK with it," Gordon said. "I told him I was. I'm not a typical leadoff guy, I think everyone knows that, and [Yost] said maybe long-term this is a better fit for you."
Before Thursday night's game against the A's, Gordon had batted third just twice this year. But in his career, he's been there 122 times with a .251 average, 31 doubles, 15 homers and 66 RBIs. The move won't change his approach.
"I'm not going to go out there and try to get big and try to hit home runs just because I'm in the three-hole. Just going to put together solid at-bats and that's about it," Gordon said.
Looking into the future, Yost sees Alcides Escobar as continuing to hit in the No. 2 spot with Billy Butler batting fourth followed by, in no particular order, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer.
Moustakas hit in the three-hole for a while, but his average has slipped to .149 in an 18-game span.
"That's a spot in the lineup where there could be a lot of pressure, and we want to kind of take him out of that right now because he's really grinding those at-bats every day," Yost said.
Dyson was the leadoff batter on Thursday night, but Yost said that Cain and Getz likely would be used there as well. Dyson was riding an eight-game hitting streak (14-for-28, .500) and had 22 stolen bases to share with team lead with Escobar.
Yost believes that Escobar, although he doesn't possess Dyson's phenomenal speed, could steal between 30 and 40 bases in a season.
"Stealing bases is more about being smart than actual pure speed," Yost said. "You could take Usain Bolt out there and he's not going to steal any bases."
Kuntz getting up to Major League speed
KANSAS CITY -- The old baseball adage about the game speeding up so much for someone moving from the Minor Leagues to the Majors apparently applies to coaches as well as players.
Rusty Kuntz, who returned as the Royals' first-base coach on Aug. 4 after working with Minor Leaguers for about two years, admits it took a while to get readjusted.
"I couldn't believe when I first came back. It's been two years so to be on the field up close with that kind of the speed of the ball, I couldn't believe how much bigger, stronger, quicker, faster that these guys are than the guys in the Minor Leagues. Even the difference between here and Triple-A is pretty much enormous," Kuntz said.
Sometimes a hot Minor League player initially will falter in the Majors.
"You always hear the speed of the game got to him," Kuntz said. "Well, now I have experience seeing it first-hand, being away from it for a couple of years and then coming back. ... Seeing the ball jump off the bat and how fast the runners are, and how quick the infielders get rid of the ball, that type of thing -- it was just like everything was going in a blur for me the first three or four games."
Example: The other night A's second baseman Jemile Weeks fielded a one-hop bullet.
"I heard the glove before I saw the ball go into it so I've still got a ways to go," Kuntz said, grinning.
Royals' rotation spins upward in August
KANSAS CITY -- Since ending a five-game losing streak with a victory over the Indians on July 31 by Luke Hochevar, the Royals' pitching rotation has been on an upsurge.
Even though Hochevar lost to the A's, 3-0, on Thursday night, in the 16 games since July 31, Royals starters have an 8-6 record and a 3.95 ERA while holding opponents to a .245 average.
That's an encouraging sign after a tough month of July in which the starters were 4-15 in 25 games from July 1-29 with a 7.06 ERA and a .321 opponents average against.
Obviously, this month the starters have made a big difference.
"Absolutely," manager Ned Yost said. "Our starting pitching has been very good; it's given us a chance to win for the most part every day and you can compete when you do that."
Hochevar believes that good pitching can be contagious.
"Everybody's been throwing the ball well," Hochevar said. "[Jeremy] Guthrie's been throwing the ball great. [Luis] Mendoza has been throwing good for a long time. Will Smith, since he came back up, has been throwing the ball great. And Bruce [Chen] has been pitching well, too. It's just like hitting. A couple guys get a couple hits and the next thing you know, everybody's got three hits apiece in the game. So it's kind of similar."
Royals prospect Colon to have eye examined
KANSAS CITY -- Triple-A Omaha infielder Christian Colon, the Royals' first-round Draft choice in 2010, will have his right eye examined on Monday in Kansas City after being injured by his own foul ball last Monday night at Tucson.
"We're waiting for the swelling to go down. His vision is good and everything seems fine," said Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo.
This is the second injury for Colon this season. A toe injury sustained in a play at home plate while he was with Double-A Northwest Arkansas kept him out of the lineup for about a month.
Colon was playing shortstop and second base for Omaha and was 7-for-17 (.412) in five games. He hit .289 in 73 games at the Double-A level.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.