The Kansas City Royals outfield seemed to be set back in Spring Training. The plan was for Alex Gordon to stay in his normal position and play in left, Whit Merrifield to be in center, and Hunter Dozier to go in right after playing third-base primarily. However, that is not the case right now. The Royals currently have seven guys who play outfield. Despite this, when Hunter Dozier comes back after testing positive for COVID-19, that will make things even more challenging. The state of the K.C. outfield is sort-of messy and here are the players fighting to have their names on the lineup card.
Locks: Alex Gordon, Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler
Alex Gordon, Whit Merrifield, and Jorge Soler are every-day guys for K.C. and that’s not questionable. Gordon has played in every game but one, so far in 2020, and Merrifield has played in both center-field and right-field. However, Merrifield has also seen playing time on the infield at second but it seems he is mostly going to be used in the outfield.
As for Jorge Soler, he is mainly the DH for the Royals but can see some time in RF. Soler and Merrifield both played in all 162 games in the 2019 campaign so expect both guys to do so as well in a 60-game season.
Missing In Action: Hunter Dozier
Hunter Dozier is currently out due to testing positive for COVID-19 and has not made an appearance in the 2020 season. The plan was to move Dozier from 3B to RF for 2020, but we’ve not yet seen that happen. Dozier got a few reps in Spring Training back in mid-March and during intrasquad games in July in RF. Once Dozier gets added to the active roster, expect him to take over the right-field spot.
New Face: Franchy Cordero
Franchy Cordero is still growing as a player and adjusting to a whole new clubhouse and city. Cordero has seen limited time in the outfield during the 2020 season and has had a few costly errors as well. He has mainly been pinch-hitting vs RHP’s. He has not played since he hurt his wrist during batting practice on Wednesday.
On The Bubble: Brett Phillips, Bubba Starling
Brett Phillips has been in and out of the lineup for the past few weeks and is currently on the bubble. Also, Bubba Starling was put on the IL earlier this week with an unknown injury. Both guys have been struggling out of the gate, scratching and crawling to be in the Royals outfield.
With Starling on the IL and Dozier out, this gives Phillips a better chance to get more playing time for the time being. But once they return, Phillips and Starling are still battling to keep their roster spot because both guys are out of options.
Welcome To The Show: Nick Heath
Nick Heath cracked the Opening Day roster. He was used as a pinch-runner to start the season. After not getting many opportunities, combined with the Royals six-game losing skid at the time, Manager Mike Matheny gave Heath his first big-league start in CF on Thursday. In his first career start, Heath went 1-for-4, with an RBI-single for his first career hit. Along with that, he stole a base and made the game-ending catch, crashing into the wall in center to secure a Royals 13-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Heath has now started in two straight games and has been giving the Royals a spark. However, he left the game Friday night due to left hamstring tightness and soreness. The decision to pull him was precautionary.
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