BALTIMORE -- Manager Ned Yost's mission to unify the Royals and turn them into a championship team includes what he calls "the little things" -- even a detail like lining up together on the edge of the infield for the national anthem before a game.
When the season began, virtually the entire roster -- except for those in the bullpen -- stood at attention during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. But as the season lengthened and the losses mounted, the Royals' line dwindled to just a few players and staff.
"When you've lost for so long, there are certain ways you do things when you become champions and we need to turn some of those things around and get to doing them on a consistent basis at this level to turn ourselves into champions," Yost said.
"And it's little things. It's running out balls, it's about if you hit a fly ball, getting around first base. Or not peeling off on a line drive. It's about being out on the line 20 minutes before the game as a team to make sure that you're preparing yourself to play. It's about everybody standing on the line during the national anthem."
Yost took notice of the absences.
"Most of them were in the cage stretching or swinging or doing something constructive," he said. "But you know what, that's not an excuse."
Now, once again, there's a long line of Royals on the field for the anthem.
One small point, but part of the overall project of building unity.
"It's focusing on what it takes to be a champion. The organization has done a great job of giving us players. They know how to do it -- they've done it at the Minor League level and they know how to win down there. Now it's my job to get them to figure out what it takes to win up here," Yost said.
"[General manager] Dayton [Moore] has done everything in his power to give us everything we need to do it. Now it's our job to do it. Yeah, we need a little more starting pitching, but it's our job to get it turned around, and change it from a losing culture or a losing atmosphere into a winning one at the Major League level."
The three-game winning spurt that the Royals took into Friday night's game followed in the wake of the recent coaching and player personnel changes and was encouraging to Yost.
"The kids have responded great," Yost said. "They want to win, they want to know how to win."
Dyson suffers mild left ankle sprain
BALTIMORE -- Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson suffered a sprained left ankle, causing him to leave Friday night's 7-1 loss to the Orioles after getting a hit in the eighth inning.
Manager Ned Yost characterized the injury as a "real slight sprain" and said he expected Dyson to be ready for Saturday night's game against the Orioles.
Dyson twisted his ankle as he completed a swing on a drive that sailed over Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who was playing shallow. As the ball rolled to the wall, Dyson stumbled in the batter's box, regained his balance and made it only to first base.
After talking to head athletic trainer Nick Kenney, Dyson stayed at first base, but yielded center field to Lorenzo Cain when the inning ended.
Getz looking forward to regular playing time
BALTIMORE -- Chris Getz is a survivor. Now, once again, he stands alone as the Royals' starting second baseman. That came about when Yuniesky Betancourt was designated for assignment last Sunday.
"Obviously, I'm looking forward to being in there more often to continue to help the team win. I think anybody you ask would rather be in there on a consistent basis, rather than just two games here, two games off, to stay in the rhythm of the game," Getz said.
Getz and Betancourt had been sharing second base most of the season after surviving competition from Johnny Giavotella in Spring Training. Last year, Giavotella took over the job late in the season from Getz.
Giavotella still is often projected as the Royals' second baseman of the future and is hitting .327 with 10 homers and 65 RBIs in 82 games for Triple-A Omaha while still working to improve his defense, which is the strong point of Getz's game.
"At this point last year, we were talking about the same thing," Getz said. "It just shows how things change. ... You just continue to do what you do and whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Things will work out -- in your favor or not in your favor -- but things will work out."
Getz is hitting .275 this season for the Royals and already has more extra-base hits (12) in 57 games than he had last year (nine) in 118 games.
"He's done a nice job for us, a real nice job," manager Ned Yost said.
Meanwhile, Yost plans to mix in newly-recalled Tony Abreu at second base, as well as third and short. No decision has been made on if or when Giavotella might be recalled, according to general manager Dayton Moore.
"He's swinging the ball very well. We've got him playing multiple positions at this time, but we feel like he's going to be a very solid defender at second base. The bat is his carrying tool but he's doing well," Moore said of Giavotella.
Giavotella has also played a couple games at third base and might be tried in left field.
Ripken debuted against Royals 31 years ago Friday
BALTIMORE -- Royals director of media relations David Holtzman dug up this historical nugget linking the Royals and the Orioles: Exactly 31 years ago, on Aug. 10, 1981, Cal Ripken Jr. made his Major League debut for the Orioles against the Royals at Baltimore's old Memorial Stadium.
Ripken, 20, was used as a pinch-runner for Ken Singleton in the 12th inning and scored the winning run when John Lowenstein's single gave the Orioles a 3-2 victory.
That game marked the resumption of play following a two-month players strike. Ripken was to play exactly 3,000 more games in his Hall of Fame career, including a record 2,632 in succession.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.