KANSAS CITY -- After three innings of play in Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Tigers, the Royals suddenly shuffled their outfielders.
Lorenzo Cain went from center field to right, Jarrod Dyson from left field to center and Nori Aoki from right field to left. The reason? Cain's legs were giving him trouble.
"His legs were just real stiff and tired today, and with Dice out there, we tried to take some of the load off Lorenzo -- put him in right and let Dice roam that big center field out there," manager Ned Yost explained.
All three finished the game. Reserve outfielder Raul Ibanez stayed on the bench, and regular left fielder Alex Gordon is out with a wrist injury.
In wake of Gordon's injury, Aoki makes early DL return
KANSAS CITY -- Nori Aoki is back with the Royals, earlier than expected.
Aoki was recalled from his rehab assignment, reinstated from the disabled list, and put into right field and his former leadoff spot on Friday night against Detroit.
To make room for Aoki on the roster, infielder Christian Colon was optioned to Triple-A Omaha.
Aoki had been out since June 21 with a strained left groin after batting .263 with a .326 on-base percentage in 68 games. He was obtained from Milwaukee during the offseason in a deal that sent pitcher Will Smith to the Brewers.
Aoki was expected to stay with Double-A Northwest Arkansas until at least the All-Star break, but when left fielder Alex Gordon sprained his right wrist, the outfield depth shrank.
Manager Ned Yost had originally insisted that Aoki would be not be recalled right away, but when it became apparent that Gordon's injury would keep him out of the Detroit series, the move seemed appropriate.
"Nori's been feeling good. We were going to try to make it through the All-Star break without him and get him some more at-bats, but with Gordy going down and only three outfielders, it kind of limits what you can do," Yost said.
Because Gordon was not put on the DL, veteran Raul Ibanez started in left field against the Tigers on Thursday night, and he had some problems in the Royals' 16-4 loss, going 0-for-4 and committing an error.
With Aoki back, Yost was able to put Lorenzo Cain back in center field and switch Jarrod Dyson from center to left. He also dropped Cain from the leadoff spot to second in the lineup.
Ibanez, signed to be a part-time player, had started eight of the 10 games -- either in right field or left -- played since he joined the club. He's struggled at the plate, going 3-for-31 with one home run.
"Raul's been going every single day, so we decided to get Nori back up here," Yost said.
Aoki played in three games for Northwest Arkansas and went 1-for-10.
Colon made his Major League debut with the Royals and went 4-for-12 in seven games, including two starts at second base.
Gordon, meantime, is biding his time. His injury will keep him from playing not only against the Tigers but in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Target Field.
"I feel good," Gordon said. "I feel like I could go out there and play, but the trainers are there for a reaso,n and the whole point was not to swing a bat and not re-aggravate it. So as much as I want to go out there and do it, this is what they think is best for the long haul."
Viva Los Royals festivities on tap for Saturday
KANSAS CITY -- It's almost like a doubleheader -- the annual Viva Los Royals celebration and a Salvador Perez bobblehead giveaway.
It happens on Saturday, when the Royals play the Tigers. Game time is 6:10 p.m. CT.
The Viva Los Royals event begins with a pregame party at 4:30 p.m. in the Outfield Experience. There will be live music by Wily Vela y sus Aguilillos, and the Salsa Showdown between local restaurants, including Palominos, El Camino Real, Cocina Mexicana and La Flor de Chiapas.
The first 10,000 fans will receive a Perez bobblehead, just two days before he leaves for Minnesota to start as the American League's catcher in the All-Star Game.
Hochevar likely to start throwing in September
KANSAS CITY -- Pitcher Luke Hochevar, out after undergoing Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, accompanied the Royals on their last road trip, and there he was the other day, in the outfield at Tropicana Field, throwing -- left-handed.
"It's not very pretty," Hochevar said. "I can throw a Frisbee left-handed, but that's about it."
Hochevar, of course, is a righty, but he won't be cleared to throw with that arm until September.
"Everything is good, I feel good, I'm cleared to do everything except throw. I can lift and do everything else, just not any high-intensity stuff," he said.
"I feel great. I feel good enough to throw, so that's a good thing. But I've still got a couple more months before I can start."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.