David Lough’s strong spring gets Royals’ attention

03/11/2013 3:58 PM

03/12/2013 1:02 AM

It starts with the obvious. David Lough is a long shot to be part of the Royals’ 25-man roster when they break camp in 17 days to head to Chicago.

Facts are facts.

Everything suggests the Royals have room for just four outfielders and, barring injuries, those four spots are allotted to the three starters — Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur — and backup Jarrod Dyson.

That’s the way it was entering camp and, for roster purposes, nothing has changed. The starters are still the starters, and Dyson, who has played well this spring, rates his edge because he is out of options.

That means the Royals can’t send Dyson back to the minors without putting him through waivers. It seems unlikely he would go unclaimed.

All that leaves Lough, at age 27 and entering his seventh pro season, on the outside looking in because he still has options.

And yet

Lough is still having the sort of spring that is forcing the Royals to take a hard look at him — and not just because he is in a tie for the club’s batting lead with Alex Gordon at .520 with 13 hits in 25 at-bats over 11 games.

“He’s hitting every ball on the nose,” manager Ned Yost said. “Everything is a line drive.”

Lough simply wants to ride the surge as long as he can.

“I feel pretty good right now,” he said. “I changed a couple of things up mechanically. It’s been working out so far. Just want to stick with it.”

Specifics?

“Just minor adjustments,” he said. “I’m more upright instead of being farther down in my legs. I feel like I’m seeing the ball a little bit better.

“It’s just about trying to get into good counts and getting a good pitch. I’m trying to work on plate selection.”

Lough advanced steadily through the Royals’ system following his selection in the 11th round of the 2007 draft — the first draft conducted in Dayton Moore’s tenure as general manager.

That draft also netted third baseman Mike Moustakas and pitchers Danny Duffy and Greg Holland. Lough advanced to Class AAA Omaha by the start of the 2010 season.

But there, his career stalled. He spent three years at Class AAA before getting a summons last September to the big leagues. Injuries to Cain and Dyson enabled Lough to play in 20 games over the final few weeks.

“It was definitely a confidence-booster to get your feet wet,” he said. “Being around the guys and playing at that level gives you a little bit of confidence going into spring training — just knowing you can play up here.”

Even if Lough heads back to Omaha, which seems likely, a strong spring could position him to be first in line if an injury or poor performance forces the Royals to go looking for another outfielder.

But Lough refuses to get drawn into that discussion.

“I just go out and play my game,” he said. “I don’t know anything more than you guys. It’s out of my (hands). I just go out and play hard every day, try to get better as a player and try to help the team win.”

Even so, Yost admitted there’s “no doubt” that Lough has forced his way into the conversation when club officials discuss the roster’s composition.

“He came up and got some experience last year,” Yost said. “That was good for him. You can’t take (what Lough is doing) away from him. He’s having a heck of a spring.”

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