Billy Butler has shown some signs of getting back into a hitting rhythm and now the Indians are wondering if their cleanup hitter, Carlos Santana, can do the same.
Butler, after four games in the sixth spot of the Royals' batting order, was back in the four-hole on Monday night against the Indians and expects to remain there. He had batted sixth in four games.
"We were just doing it until he got settled and back on track," manager Ned Yost said. "He's not hitting ground balls like he was and he's swinging the bat better. ... He's not rolling over to shortstop every time he gets up there and that's how you can tell he's getting out of it,"
After a five-game hitting streak, Butler had a setback in Monday night's 4-3 loss. But he's still seven for his last 23 -- .304.
Indians manager Terry Francona provided Santana with a mental break on Monday. The third baseman and backup catcher launched a home run on Friday, but was mired in a 2-for-39 slump heading into the series with the Royals. During Sunday's win over the Blue Jays, Santana got away from his usual approach, chasing pitches out of the strike zone and ended with three strikeouts.
"You kind of look at things with different players," Francona said. "Some players go out of the zone, but Carlos is amazingly good at not [doing that] for the violence of his swing. It amazes me how he does it. I just think sometimes, hitters, I get it. I spent a career doing it. You get yourself in a little bit of a bind and you want to get two hits instead of one in an at-bat.
"Instead of letting the game come to you, you're trying to reach and you get yourself in more trouble."
Santana will likely return to the lineup for Tuesday night's game against Kansas City.
• With 12 strikeouts in his last start at Houston, the Royals' Tuesday night starter James Shields is just 28 whiffs from reaching the 1,500 mark. He will oppose Danny Salazar, who has been unable to log at least five innings in each of his past two starts.
Royals: Lefties to throw live BP
Bullpen left-handers Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno are eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, but they won't. Instead, they'll be throwing against hitters in a live batting practice/simulated game at Progressive Field.
Collins has a left flexor strain and Bueno a sprained little finger on his left hand.
"They're coming along in their development and we wanted Dave [Eiland, pitching coach] to keep an eye on them," Yost said. "Timmy's a little ahead of Bueno."
Even when the two lefties are ready to pitch, they won't be doing it immediately at the Major League level. They're both due for Minor League injury rehabilitation assignments.
Indians: Salazar showing maturity
On Thursday in Detroit, the 24-year-old Salazar cruised through three innings, flinched in the fourth and fell apart in the fifth. After the loss, in which he gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings, Salazar said he planned on studying film of last season to see if he could identify any problems.
Perhaps more importantly, Francona said Salazar displayed maturity in his conversations with the coaching staff.
"I think the biggest thing, and it kind of surprised us, was Danny kind of admitted he was young," Francona said. "Not in those words, but that he was a little bit trying to maybe -- because he had made the club this year and he didn't just come up and pitch -- that he was kind of pressing a little bit on his expectations of himself.
"The way he carries himself, I think that surprised us. And then, when you think about it, it probably shouldn't. He's a young kid and he has probably 15 starts or 14 starts. Sometimes everybody needs reassuring a little bit."
• Indians veteran Jason Giambi, who is playing in his 20th Major League season, headed into this year with a .322 career average, 31 home runs and 104 RBIs in 423 at-bats against the Royals. The 43-year-old Giambi was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday and went 0-for-4.
• Since going 0-for-16 to start the season, the Royals' Alcides Escobar is 18-for-43 (.419) and has his overall average up to .305.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.