MINNEAPOLIS – The undefeated Royals suffered their first loss of the season on Tuesday morning when the club announced an X-ray discovered a non-displaced fracture of Alex Rios’ left pinky. The team will place Rios on the disabled list and make a roster move before Wednesday’s game against the Twins.
The fracture occurred when Twins reliever J.R. Graham hit Rios with a 93-mph fastball in the eighth inning of Monday’s 12-3 Royals romp. Rios became the 11th Royals player hit by a pitch this season. He was the first to deal with long-term consequences.
The club did not announce a timetable for Rios’ return. General manager Dayton Moore indicated the team would have a better sense after seeing how Rios responds to at least a week of rehabilitation.
“I think it would be a little careless to put six weeks on it,” Moore said in a telephone interview. “And maybe a little premature to be two to three weeks on it. I think it’s somewhere in between.”
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Rios produced for the Royals in the season’s first week. He hit .321 with an .809 on-base plus slugging percentage and drove in eight runs. Now more responsibility shifts to his teammates, including outfielder Alex Gordon, who has one hit in 16 at-bats this season.
The Royals will likely utilize their bench to replace Rios. Moore and manager Ned Yost will continue discussions on the subject, but the most likely scenario involves a platoon of left-handed veteran Jarrod Dyson and right-handed rookie Paulo Orlando. The organization could call up a position player or an additional pitcher to replace Rios on the active roster. Moore stressed this player would likely come from the 40-man roster.
With Dyson and Orlando, Moore explained, the club would maintain it’s strong outfield defense.
“We’re fortunate to have some depth,” Moore said. “Jarrod Dyson’s been a productive player for us. Certainly Paulo’s had some big moments in the first week. They’re both going to bring terrific defense and speed.”
One player who will not receive consideration for the call-up is outfield prospect Brett Eibner. He surged back onto the fanbase’s radar with a sterling spring. He swatted six home runs, and stayed hot to start the regular season. He has doubled twice and homered once for Triple-A Omaha in three games.
But Eibner is not yet on the 40-man roster, which is full. The organization would like him to receive more seasoning in the minors before he merits a promotion.
“Brett had a terrific spring,” Moore said. “He’s expected to have a terrific year, and hopefully factor in at some point in time. But right now we’re going to go with Dyson and Paulo, and give them the opportunity. We feel that they’re really going to help us. We’ll just continue to evaluate, day-to-day, week-to-week, to see where we are.”