7/23/2014 7:15 P.M. ET
Hosmer exits early after returning to lineup
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- First baseman Eric Hosmer was back in -- and back out -- of the Royals' lineup during Wednesday's 2-1 win over the White Sox.
After missing two games with a bruised right hand, Hosmer started the contest but left for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.
The problem was that he didn't have enough strength to grip the bat properly.
"When it comes to pain, I've got a pretty high tolerance to that, but when I go to grip more, it's just giving out. It's not a matter of pain, it's just not letting me do it," Hosmer said.
He went to the plate three times, hitting a sacrifice fly and then grounding out twice. Then Billy Butler batted for him in the eighth.
"I'm trying to grind it out with the boys, and now we've got a big stretch of games, but it just wasn't smart to go back out there for another at-bat," Hosmer said. "It was the right decision."
Hosmer wasn't sure if he'd try to play on Thursday night against Cleveland as the Royals begin a homestand.
"We've got to think big picture, long-term, and if it means a couple of days [off], we've just got to get it back," he said.
Manager Ned Yost decided that Hosmer would play on Wednesday after consulting with him and head athletic trainer Nick Kenney.
"This morning it was much better. Took some swings in the cage, took some BP and looked OK," Yost said. "Actually, his first two at-bats were OK, but he had a check swing that bothered him a little. But this is something we're going to deal with. If you're going to wait it out, it's going to be a month, so you just deal with it."
Hosmer was drilled in the hand by a Jon Lester pitch in Sunday's 6-0 loss at Boston. He finished that game but sat out the first two games at Chicago, the first time he'd missed two consecutive games since April 12-13, 2013.
The Royals were eager to get him back, because Hosmer had a 16-game hitting streak, longest active in the Majors, in which he was 26-for-63, .417. That streak ended on Wednesday.
"If you're going to win a championship, guys have got to play hurt and they know it and they try it," Yost said.
"You've got to trust your guys. If they want to give it a try, you've got to give them the opportunity."
Butler starts on bench, but fills in late
CHICAGO -- Rarely has Billy Butler been out of the Royals' starting lineup, especially against a left-handed pitcher, but that was the case on Wednesday.
Butler began the game on the bench, although the White Sox started lefty Jose Quintana. Danny Valencia took over Butler's usual designated-hitter spot. Both are right-handed batters.
"We need some production from that spot right now," manager Ned Yost said.
That took Valencia out of a platoon role with the left-handed-hitting Mike Moustakas, who was at third base on Wednesday.
"I wanted Valencia to DH today. He does good against lefties," Yost said. "Moose is swinging the bat good and Danny is swinging the bat good."
Moustakas had two home runs in Tuesday night's 7-1 win.
In addition, Butler had not done well against Quintana, facing him more than anyone else in the Majors. Butler was 5-for-24 (.208) with no extra-base hits against him entering play Wednesday.
Moustakas, despite going left-vs.-left, had hit well against Quintana, 8-for-22 (.364), with two home runs heading into Wednesday's action. Valencia had faced Quintana just eight times, getting two hits.
"He told me to take a day," Butler said. "It's been a long year and you just need a day here and there. It's not my choice; he makes the lineup. So I'll just go out there and support the team."
That's what Butler did until the eighth inning. At that point, first baseman Eric Hosmer's bruised hand forced him out of the lineup. Butler pinch-hit for Hosmer, and reliever Ronald Belisario hit him with a pitch.
Butler also took over at first base for the last two innings of the 2-1 victory. He had played first base in Hosmer's place in the first two games of the series.
Butler came up again in the ninth inning, after the Royals had scored the go-ahead run, and grounded into an inning-ending double play.
This has been a tough season for Butler, who is hitting .266 with three homers, 20 doubles and 36 RBIs in 99 games. That's well below his usual production, and he's been dropped out of the third and fourth spots in the batting order.
Butler has hit into 17 double plays, the most in the American League.
"Look around the league, the guys that lead the league in double plays every year hit the ball low and hard," Butler said. "That's how it is. I can't change my style. ... The combination of hitting the ball hard and [I'm] really slow. That doesn't help, either."
Royals reportedly interested in Bastardo
CHICAGO -- Left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies is drawing interest from the Royals and other clubs, according to reporter Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
Bastardo, 28, has pitched 44 innings in 44 games with 53 strikeouts, 24 walks and a 4-3 record. He's in his sixth year with Philadelphia.
He's been effective against both left-handed (.140) and right-handed hitters (.175) this season.
The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.