KANSAS CITY -- Playing with a lineup is not the favorite pastime of Royals manager Ned Yost. If he had his druthers, he'd keep it pretty much intact day after day. But, for Sunday's game against the White Sox, he got a bit inventive.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain, in his second start since returning from injury, was inserted into the fourth spot -- his first time as a cleanup hitter in his relatively brief big league career.
"I've never seen myself as a middle-of-the-order type guy, but if that's where I'm at, I'm going to take the same approach and try and just stay as a line-drive hitter and just go from there," Cain said.
Yost also had designated hitter Yuniesky Betancourt in the fifth spot, where's he's been recently, and Billy Butler at first base (Eric Hosmer got the day off), batting third instead of fourth.
"Cain's swinging it well, he's a good fastball hitter, [Chris] Sale's a good fastball pitcher. Yuni can get on a fastball. I had three choices to put there -- Butler, Cain or Betancourt. What difference does it make who you hit three, four, five? So it's not a big deal," Yost said.
"There have been studies done by all these Sabermetricians that say you can pull your lineup out of a hat every day and it's not going to make any difference. ... I've read all that stuff."
Yost hasn't gone that far, of course.
"You just try to put the guys that are your best hitters up top to get the most at-bats," Yost said. "You want to try to create some continuity in offensive sequence so all up and down in your nine, you've got capabilities of scoring runs. So it's important to have guys that swing the bats good, too, at the bottom of the order as well as the top of the order, so you can create sequence no matter where you are in the lineup."
Yost recalled that during his early days as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, that offensive capability was good from spots one through five, but from six on down was a dead zone. That's not the case with the current Royals, in his view.
"Our lineup now, I feel like we've got offensive sequence or capabilities all the way down to nine," Yost said. "We can start a rally anywhere in our lineup and maintain it."