SAN DIEGO -- For the Royals' first foray into the National League part of Interleague Play, manager Ned Yost opted to go with defense and kept Eric Hosmer at first base and put Billy Butler on the bench for Monday night's opener with the Padres.
That kept Hosmer, a left-handed batter, in the lineup against soft-throwing lefty Eric Stults instead of the right-handed Butler.
"I'm staying with that defensive theme and Hoz has been doing fine against lefties," Yost said. "And we've been watching a lot of video on these guys, but it was still a tough decision."
Butler has hit .312 against left-handers in his career but just .276 this year. Against right-handers, he's .291 in his career and .229 this year. Hosmer is .282 against righties both in his career and this year; against lefties, he's .267 career-wise but .294 in 2014.
So Butler, the temporarily jobless designated hitter, will be prowling the bench waiting for a chance. With the pitchers batting, pinch-hitters will be needed.
"It's a nice weapon having an established hitter on the bench, too. Just because you don't start the game doesn't mean that you don't have impact to help win it," Yost said.
Take June 17, 2012, at St. Louis. The Royals were one out from a 2-1 defeat when Butler strode out of the dugout in the ninth and, with two strikes on him, socked a pinch-hit home run to tie the Cardinals. The Royals went on to win, 5-3, in 15 innings.
Hosmer went 3-for-6 with three RBIs, including a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh in a 6-5 loss in 12 innings. Butler entered in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and drew a walk.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.