KANSAS CITY -- This is the point in the season where aspiring players can make a good impression for 2013. Which is why Royals outfielders Jarrod Dyson and David Lough do not want to be spending time in the training room. But they are.
Dyson, hampered by a strained lat muscle beneath his right shoulder, is the most serious case. He's likely to be limited to pinch-running duty for the rest of the season.
"I'm kind of frustrated about that, but I've got to stay positive in the head and hope to overcome this little bump in the road," Dyson said. "It's just frustrating, because it seems like every time I get a chance to play every day or whatever, something happens. Like in Baltimore, I was going good and messed my ankle up on one swing and it took me out for a couple days."
That injury came as Dyson was on an eight-game hitting streak in which he was 14-for-27 (.515) and had stolen five bases. He actually sat out four games and has played intermittently since. Dyson's lat strain probably occurred when he collided with the center-field wall in Boston on Aug. 27.
"We've got David Lough filling in, and I think he's going to do a great job," Dyson said. "He's kind of down, but I don't think he's going to be down for long."
Ironically, Dyson pinch-ran for Lough in Wednesday night's 7-6 loss to the Rangers and scored the Royals' last run. Lough came out after sustaining a mild right hamstring strain while beating a double-play throw to first base.
"I can pinch-hit [Thursday] if I need to," Lough said.
Lough, out of the starting lineup on Thursday night, is expected to be ready to play this weekend in Chicago, but he's a left-handed batter and the White Sox are expected to start three left-handed pitchers.
"That'll give Lough a chance to really recuperate," said Royals manager Ned Yost, who has right-handed batters in Lorenzo Cain and Jeff Francoeur available for the outfield.
Dyson is able to swing the bat a bit, but doesn't throw, and says the area around his throwing shoulder is feeling better each day.
"For the most part, I don't think it's serious so I'll be ready, if not for this year, the beginning of 2013," he said.
Hosmer's height allows him to make key play
KANSAS CITY -- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is a tall guy.
Hosmer used his height to his advantage in Thursday's 5-4 loss to Texas. With one out in the top of the ninth and the game tied at 4, Rangers catcher Geovany Soto popped a ball high into foul territory. Hosmer ran over to the fence in front of a suite on the first-base side and leaned over to make a terrific catch to retire Soto.
"That's a ball where you're taught to just get to the wall first. That was my first thing was to get to the wall, and you can work back from there," Hosmer said. "I saw the ball was trying to tail back a little bit. Basically, I just reached my glove out as far as I could, [and] hopefully have the wingspan to get it."
"It's a good thing he's 6-foot-5 and long-armed because if he was 6-foot-3, I don't think he'd have caught it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was a tremendous play."
Hosmer said he benefited from a little home-field advantage.
"You're definitely a little more familiar with the foul territory from playing here every day," he said. "Luckily, I was fortunate enough to have a fan that knew what was going on, helping me out there. It's just one of those plays where in the heat of the moment you just want to get to the wall and reach out as far as you can."
Perez sets Royals catching pickoff record
KANSAS CITY -- Baserunners beware: Salvador Perez is at it again.
Just two nights after taking the Major League lead for catchers with his third pickoff of the season, Perez upped his total to four and established a Royals single-season record for backstops by nabbing Craig Gentry at first base in the fifth inning of Thursday night's series finale with the Rangers.
Gentry had singled two at-bats earlier, and with Michael Young at the plate, he gained a healthy lead off first base. After Luke Hochevar's second pitch to Young was called a ball, Perez fired down to first baseman Eric Hosmer, who applied the tag on Gentry for the third out.
The four pickoffs are the most by a Royals catcher. Perez matched the previous record of three last season, joining John Buck (2005) and Darrell Porter (1977).
On Tuesday, Perez caught Ian Kinsler at third base for his third pickoff of the season.
Lough still adjusting to Major League schedule
KANSAS CITY -- After three seasons with Triple-A Omaha, David Lough is a bit slow getting used to the luxuries of big league life.
On Thursday, Lough had lunch with his college coach and, arriving at Kauffman Stadium in early afternoon for treatment on his strained hamstring, he got a big surprise.
"I pulled in the parking lot and I see Salvador [Perez] and [Manny] Pina all dressed up with their luggage and my heart just dropped. I was, 'Omigosh,' because I had to do treatment at 1:30," the rookie outfielder said.
Lough didn't realize that the Royals, as do all Major League clubs, would be leaving immediately after Thursday night's game on a charter flight to Chicago for their weekend series with the White Sox.
"I thought maybe we were flying out [Friday] morning like it was in Triple-A," he said, "but apparently not."
So he hurriedly called head trainer Nick Kenney, who told Lough to go get packed and he could get his medical treatment later.
"It was a NASCAR race getting back to the hotel, checking out and loading all my stuff up," Lough said.
So Lough, after his first charter flight, would be in Chicago for a good night's rest before the series opener on Friday night. That wasn't the case in the Pacific Coast League where teams take commercial flights.
"You have to get up at like 4:30 in the morning and take the first flight out. That's what they do in that league, so if you do have delays, you can still get there on time," Lough said.
You're not in Triple-A anymore, David.
Yost wants to see his Royals in the running
KANSAS CITY -- When it was pointed out to manager Ned Yost that the Royals, in the American League, have the best average hitting with runners in scoring position and two outs, he wasn't all that impressed.
The Royals, in such situations, owned a league-best .292 average (well ahead of the second-place Tigers' .268), and their 182 RBIs ranked third entering Thursday's action. The Rangers were first with 196 RBIs.
"It doesn't mean anything if you're not scoring runs," Yost said. "We're still down in the run department."
Indeed, through Wednesday's games, the Royals ranked just 12th in AL runs with 568. The Rangers were first with 704.
The Royals' batting average of .267 ranked fourth in the AL and they also had the least number of strikeouts, 856.
"We still have so much more room to growing as an offensive unit," Yost said. "All those numbers are fine but the number that means most to me is runs scored."
Yost grabbed a statistics sheet before Thursday night's game against the Rangers and cited some examples.
"When we score three runs or less, we're 15-49," Yost said. "When we score more than three runs, we're 46-26. So we're going to have to find a way to score more than three runs every game. ... If it takes four runs or more for us to win a ballgame, well, we need to score four runs or more. And granted, we did [Wednesday] night and we didn't win, but when we do, more times than not we do win."
Yost has faith in the offensive potential of his current players.
"When I envision our offense, seriously, I envision more like Texas' offense. Maybe that's lofty expectations, but that's where I'd like to get to," he said.
Storm Chasers drop second playoff game
KANSAS CITY -- The Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers dropped the second game of their first-round playoff series against Albuquerque, 5-3, on Thursday night in Nebraska.
Leading 3-0 after five innings, the Isotopes scored five runs over the sixth, seventh and eighth frames to grab the lead and the victory. Former Royal Josh Fields delivered the game-winning hit for Albuquerque, a two-run single in the top of the seventh.
Storm Chasers starter Ryan Verdugo took the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. Omaha designated hitter Max Ramirez hit a two-run home run in the second inning, and outfielder Wil Myers went 0-for-4.
The best-of-five series, which is tied at one apiece, moves to Albuquerque for Game 3, which starts at 8:05 p.m. CT on Friday night.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.