So how is life without Alex Gordon? The Royals will likely have a few days to find out.
A day after slamming his hip into the ground and his head into the outfield wall, Gordon was absent from the Royals' lineup Thursday against Cleveland. And he's likely to miss a couple of more games, too.
That's the bad news.
The optimistic outlook, if you prefer that one, is the Royals expect Gordon to avoid a stint on the disabled list. Initial signs for a possible concussion provided encouraging news, but tests will continue through the end of the week. As for the hip injury, Royals manager Ned Yost said Gordon suffered a "substantial butt bruise."
"He hit awfully hard on that hip," Yost said. "Even if he's OK (in terms of the concussion), the bruise on his hip is pretty substantial. That's going to take a day or two, maybe longer. That's not even knowing where he is on the concussion stuff."
Gordon suffered both injuries when he tumbled while chasing after a fly ball off the bat of Jason Kipnis, who circled the bases for an inside-the-park three-run homer as Gordon lay motionless on the ground.
After losing his balance, Gordon slammed his head into the padding along the outfield wall.
In 2011, Major League Baseball added a seven-day disabled list for players with concussions.
"We have to find out where he is on that," Yost said. "They have pretty extensive tests to determine the grade of it, but he seems to be doing OK on that side of it."
Gordon has been the Royals' most productive hitter to date — he leads the team in runs and hits and is tied for the team lead in home runs and RBIs — but Yost said the Royals will take things slowly, especially with a possible concussion.
"I've seen concussions end careers, so we want to make sure that he's fully recovered from that," Yost said.
With Gordon out of the lineup Thursday, David Lough slid into the leadoff spot for the sixth time this season.
"He's got experience there," Yost said. "He led off in Triple-A a lot this year, (and he's) swinging the bat well, so we went with David."
Hochevar claims eighth-inning role
Luke Hochevar fired a perfect eighth inning out of the bullpen Thursday, setting up the Royals' three-run outburst in the bottom half of the same frame. That made Hochevar a winner for the second time this season.
As a result, Hochevar appears to have earned more eighth-inning assignments.
"You know what he's going to get? He's going to get that opportunity to prove he can be that (eighth-inning guy)," Yost said. "He took a good first step today."
Hochevar has allowed only one run in in past 10 appearances, encompassing 12 2/3 innings. In his first season as a reliever, he has a 2.23 earned run average.
Paulino injury update
Right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino will resume playing catch Friday for the first time since halting his rehab because of right shoulder inflammation, the second setback in his attempt to return from Tommy John surgery to replace a torn ligament in his throwing elbow,
Paulino downplayed the significance of the most recent glitch in his rehab, which occurred after he threw a three-inning simulated game at Kaufmann Stadium on June 25.
"It's just, unfortunately, my shoulder got inflamed. That's normal," Paulino said. "And I just want to be cautious about my shoulder because my elbow is good right now."
Paulino says the next course of action will be determined after Friday's throwing session.
"This is just a normal adjustment for my body — nothing to worry about," Paulino said. "I can pitch, but my concern is the next day. How do I feel then? This is nothing serious. It's just inflamed."
Royals ink Broussard to minors deal
The Royals signed first baseman Ben Broussard on Thursday and assigned him to Class AAA Omaha.
Broussard, 36, began the year in the Mexican League but most recently played independent baseball for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League. He was batting .302 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs in 44 games with the Ducks.
Broussard played parts of seven years in the major leagues, most recently in 2008 with Texas. He has a .263 career batting average with 87 home runs in 705 games.
• Debbie Hassed of Overland Park won $25,000 as part of the Sonic Slam inning when Lorenzo Cain lined a sixth-inning grand slam over the centerfield wall.
• The Royals have hit back-to-back home runs twice this season, and George Kottaras has been part of both instances. He followed Cain's grand slam with a solo home run to right field Thursday, and he and Jarrod Dyson went back-to-back on June 23 against Chicago.
• After scoring the game-winning run as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning, Elliot Johnson stayed in the game to play left field in the top of the ninth. It was his eighth career appearance in the outfield but first for the Royals this season.
• The Royals drew a season-high eight walks Thursday. They entered the game last in the American League with 202 walks this season.