Kansas City Royals

Royals shelve Hunter Dozier to let his back spasms settle down

Royals red-hot hitting third baseman Hunter Dozier will not be in the lineup on Tuesday night after back spasms forced him to leave Monday night’s game after he’d gone 2-for-2 with a home run.

Dozier hadn’t played the field on Sunday or Monday because of back stiffness/tightness, but Royals manager Ned Yost kept Dozier’s bat in the lineup by having him serve as the designated hitter in both games. Dozier said his back issue started in New York.

During the first eight games of the 10-game road trip, Dozier was 10-for-24 (.417) with five runs scored, three doubles, four home runs, five RBIs and eight walks. His home run on Monday marked the second time this season he’d homered in consecutive games.

Yost said Dozier was feeling better on Tuesday, and he’d be available if needed in an emergency. Dozier will likely get Wednesday off too with the team having an off day on Thursday, which would give him three consecutive days off.

“He’s really swinging the bat well, one of our better hitters, but we push this thing and it locks up — it could be three weeks,” Yost said. “So what do you want to do? You want to be smart, take three days hopefully to get past the worst part of it or you want to keep pushing through it and have it really lock up? That’s the balance.

“I’d just as soon, if we can have three days, have three days over the three weeks. And there’s no saying that he can’t push through it, but it’s a gamble. You want to gamble? I don’t think I do.”

Flynn set to rehab: Royals left-handed relief pitcher Brian Flynn will pitch for Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday on a minor-league rehab assignment. Flynn, who made 48 relief appearances for the Royals last season, began this season on the injured list because of an elbow injury.

Kansas kid: The “opener” on the mound for the Rays on Tuesday night against the Royals was pitcher Ryne Stanek. The Rays drafted him out of the University of Arkansas in 2013, but Stanek also played for Blue Valley High School. The Seattle Mariners drafted him out of high school in 2010.

In 10 appearances (12 1/3 innings) this season, he has posted a 1.46 ERA, given up eight hits, walked three and struck out 13.

Cy Young opponent: The Rays announced prior to Tuesday’s game that Blake Snell, winner of the 2018 American League Cy Young Award, will start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale. The left-hander has been on the injured list because of a fractured right toe.

Last season, Snell went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, 0.974 WHIP and 11.0 strikeouts per nine.

Tuesday’s lineup

1. Whit Merrifield, 2b

2. Adalberto Mondesi, ss

3. Alex Gordon, lf

4. Jorge Soler, rf

5. Ryan O’Hearn, 1b

6. Lucas Duda, dh

7. Chris Owings, 3b

8. Martin Maldonado, c

9. Billy Hamilton, cf

Starting pitcher: Homer Bailey (rh, 2-1, 4.30)

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.