INF/OF Whit Merrifield, who homered, singled and walked twice Tuesday in his first game back after being recalled from Triple-A Omaha, started at second base. “I play with a chip on my shoulder,” Merrifield said. It was his 56th career start at second base. He went 0-for-4 Wednesday.
LHP Danny Duffy will make his fourth start of the season Thursday at Texas. Duffy, who is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, is 1-1 with a 5.31 ERA in his four previous outings against the Rangers. Since last season, Duffy is 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP away from Kauffman Stadium. Royals starting pitchers have the best ERA in the majors. “Pitching is contagious, just like hitting is,” Duffy said. “It’s been fun to watch. I think I’ve just been trying to follow Vargy (Jason Vargas) and what he’s been doing and so on and so forth. Everybody has been doing a great job.”
2B Raul Mondesi, who is in an 0-for-11 skid to drop his average to .114, was held out of the lineup against Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner. Mondesi is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts with runners in scoring position. Overall, he is hitting .114 with one extra-base hit and 13 strikeouts in 35 at-bats.
LHP Jason Vargas is 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA in his first three April starts. He threw seven scoreless innings against the Giants, permitting four hits, striking out nine and walking none. He is the fourth Royals pitcher to allow no more than one run in his first three starts of the season. The others are Zack Greinke (2008), Runelvys Hernandez (2003) and Kevin Appier (1992). The Royals are 8-0 in his last eight home starts.
1B Eric Hosmer, who is eligible for free agency after this season, has only one extra-base hit. He continues to look for answers, while working with hitting coach Dale Sveum. “It is cycles,” manager Ned Yost said. “You just have to let them work through it. You know the talent is there. It’s always been there. Their track record is what you have to fall back on. Guys go through slumps. It’s just inevitable. Everybody is going to go through one or two over the course of the year, hopefully no more. You don’t panic. You just keep working through it.”